Nagesh Kukunoor burst into Indian films with Hyderabad Blues, a sweet romantic film that sort of set off a move- ment for indie films. Since then he has made a range
of films, some like Iqbal, 3 Deewarein and
Dor have done well at the box office and
also with critics.
His new film Dhanak also seems set on
the same path. It is the story of a brother
and sister walking across the desert in
Rajasthan in search of Shah Rukh Khan; the
boy is blind and his sister is convinced that the
Bollywood star will help her brother gain his eyesight.
Dhanak had its world premiere at the recently concluded Berlin International Film Festival where it had very
successful three screenings, attended mostly by young
kids. The film won two awards at the festival — Grand
Prize for the Best Feature, presented by an international
jury in the Generation KPlus section for children, and a
Special Mention by a children’s jury.
Kukunoor spoke to India Abroad after one of the
Had you planned to show Shah Rukh Khan
in the film?
This is the international cut. Otherwise
we will see if that happens. But for me
the myth of him is more important.
People keep hoping for the payoff!
It is interesting that you not only you
worked so closely with two kids here,
What did it take cast and then direct a
child to act blind?
I had studied blind kids. But in the audi-
They are doing less and less Bollywood kind of acting?
tion process I was very clear that the actor
auditioning had to convince me, because in these
times the number of kids who are competent to speak dia-
logues is amazing. So, for any role, I have at least 20 kids
who are good. There was a time if I could zero in on one
kid and that was good enough.
They may do Bollywood kind of acting, but they are
So where were these two kids found?
competent in front of the camera, which is a huge thing,
because you can always make a kid unlearn his or her
mannerisms. I would direct the kids in the audition
process. But I was very clear that if a kid could sell me
and match the kids I was seeing in real life, I would have
the confidence to cast them.
They are Bombay kids. We were on set and an actor who
appears in the end asked the kids where were they from in
Rajasthan. And they both responded Lokhandwala (an
areainsuburban Mumbai). They hadn’t done films. Hetal,
who plays the sister, has done some TV work and the boy
Krish has done some commercial, and a bit part in a film
that hasn’t released yet.
Where did the idea of the children lost in the desert come
The idea of the film stemmed from the image I saw of
these two kids walking in the desert. The film wrote itself.
That triggered the writing of the film.
I wasn’t trying to put cute words in the kids’ mouths. I
was working with the thought that the world is really not
such a bad place. That was overpowering thing.
Plus I wanted to work with the India that was in my
head, the India of 30-40 years ago where the fellow travelers would help you as you continue on the journey. I
wanted to bring that India back.
Aseem Chhabra catches up with filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor to find out more
about Dhanak, which caught the interest of the audience and jury alike
Riding the rainbow at Berlinale
A scene from Dhanak.
India Abroad February 27, 2015
THE MAGAZINE M11