A Conversation With : Filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor talks about 'Dhanak', which is written and directed by him
Updated on: 22 Jun 2016
He burst into Bollywood with Hyderabad Blues, a semi-autobiographical — and unapologetic — take on a US-returned engineer and his sticky brush with arranged marriage. Over the years, Nagesh Kukunoor has given us some memorable films — Rockford to Iqbal, Dor to Lakshmi. This weekend, the 49-year-old filmmaker is back with Dhanak, the story of two siblings on a cathartic road trip through Rajasthan in the quest to meet Shah Rukh Khan. After being feted at the world's biggest film festivals — Berlin to Poland to Montreal — Nagesh was in Calcutta this week to talk Dhanak.
Unlike your fellow filmmakers, why do we only see you once in two years when a film of yours releases?
I only show up when a film releases. Being in the limelight is not something I enjoy. If someone wants to talk about my craft, I am always available… otherwise, no. I don't enjoy promotions either. I didn't do any promotions for Rockford (1999). I disappeared off to the US and my producer wased off. The press thought I was arrogant. Since then, I have learnt to shut up and promote my films (smiles).
Your films are almost always talked about. Don't you feel your shunning the spotlight has stopped you from capitalising on your successes?
I've been very sloppy when it comes to being smart and padding myself up in such a way that a persona is created. I still have that same basic independent filmmaker quality in which I make a film and when it's time to release, panic sets in ki yeh picture kaun dekhega? (Laughs) I've never been media savvy and that's something that I now wear as a badge because everyone is not cut out to do everything. But yes, because of the way I am, it does become difficult to raise money for my films, especially because I don't work with stars. I have been in the industry for 19 years, but no one knows me! They know of me… but no one knows me.
And yes, it's been a disadvantage because if I am not on the radar of my producers, then it's tough to forge relationships because I am not around either to give or to take.
When Manish Mundhra (Dhanak's producer) wanted to speak to me about the film, he didn't know how to contact me because no one had my number. I have been living in Bombay for eight years now. But when people come and meet me, the first thing they ask is: 'So when did you land from Hyderabad?' When you operate so much on the fringe like me, you've got to take what comes with it (laughs).
Let's talk about Dhanak. What prompted you to write this film?