'I'm here by choice'

'I'm here by choice'

Straight talk

'I'm here by choice'

He has always seen cinema as a medium to express his innermost thoughts — be it ‘Hyderabad Blues’ or the more recent ‘Lakshmi’. Nagesh Kukunoor, the director-screenwriter-film producer-actor who is known for his contributions to parallel cinema, was at Inox, Garuda Mall recently to promote his upcoming film ‘Dhanak’. In a chat with Tini Sara Anien, he gets candid about his latest film and more.

Tell us more about ‘Dhanak’...

‘Dhanak’ is a happy film and has been an enjoyable experience. It’s the first time in my career that I’ve slowed down and enjoyed a film with the audience. It went to the 65th Berlin International Film Festival and other festivals worldwide and I’ve enjoyed people’s comments and questions. I normally make a film, then move on to the next one. But this has been different.

How excited are you?

The movie will release on June 17. The final exam is always in India because there is a certain sense of ownership here. There are a lot of nuances that the Indian audience will connect to, which an international audience won’t get. I’m looking forward to see if the audience will actually come out and watch the movie.

How close to your initial idea is the end product?

I’ll be honest, there’s not been a single time in my career that I’ve had an idea and it ended up being something else. The reason being — I write a script and I don’t deviate from it. Sometimes certain scenes and sequences go beyond. There are some scenes in  ‘Dhanak’ too, when I pop into the theatre and see the scenes again. Sometimes magic happens.

An interesting scene from ‘Dhanak’...

There is a section where the kids meet a drunk guy at a wedding party. This is my absolute favourite in the movie. In the craziest way, these scenes encapsulate everything I love about this country. (Smiles) A drunk stranger is not always a bad guy.

How different is it to work with kids?

I’ve worked with kids for ‘Rockford’. It presents a different set of challenges, but it’s not different from directing adults. Some of the ground rules are — never treat them like kids, treat them like adults and give them the respect they deserve. Don’t baby them. The flip-side is, to be really careful around them as everything is being absorbed and will have a consequence. The good part and the bad part here was that the two young actors had faced the camera before. Indian kids are tuned to say lines horribly and I had to detrain them from that acting space. But once that was done, it was beautiful!

Any interesting experience with the kids?

They mentally check out after a certain part at night. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been allowed 5 or even 10 hours of sleep. They just die out of energy at night. (Smiles) Even if they have been told about a night shift, once we start the shoot by 7.30 pm, they drift off by 11.30 pm. After that, keeping them awake is a challenge.

From ‘Hyderabad Blues’ till now, how much do you think the industry has changed?

The moment the 35 mm film disappeared, films changed worldwide. When the process got digitalised, anyone could start making films as opposed to earlier. In the past few years, there has been a change. But the industry as a whole hasn’t changed much. The bottleneck is still distribution.

How different is it to be a director/writer/producer/ actor?

Being the producer is the worst part as that involves begging for money and trying to get the movie released. I enjoy every aspect of filmmaking. I’m here by choice and I try to do what it takes to get the job done.

Which is your all-time favourite project from your career?

It has and will always be ‘Hyderabad Blues’. Before that I was an chemical engineer and after that, I got identified as a filmmaker.

If not into filmmaking, what would you have been?

I would have been a chef. I am more into eating now; I used to cook a lot. But in the past few years, having a ridiculous lifestyle hasn’t helped at all. Since there is nothing specific like Indian cuisine, everything Indian is my favourite. Outside that, my other favourites are Thai and Cajun (out of Louisiana).

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)