Films | Artist Interviews | NAGESH KUKUNOOR ON DHANAK


Posted by Vivek on June 13, 2016 | No Comments

The idea behind Dhanak?

The idea was to remind myself that there were some good people and some goodness left in the world. I have been told jokingly that in the past life I was maybe a Rajastahani, so anyway, I kept getting this vision of two kids walking past a desert landscape. That kind of gave rise to this whole film. It was a reminder of the India I grew up in, in which people trusted each other. Also since it is from a children’s point of view, I wanted to keep their mindset intact.

Dhanak has captured every global film award there is. Yet, I don’t see any statements like “I am back, “ etc from you. No sense of redemption, or above it all now ?

I have been making films for a while now. Sounds like an old man looking back J, but I have never ever cared for the results of the film. This happened post my second film, Rockford. I had wrapped up Rockford and was on my way to make Bollywood Calling. I was not even here for the release of Rockford, so even back then I have been kind of not very good in all of this PR and Marketing.  I have poured every ounce of heart/soul/passion into the making of the film and post that I am done. I “check out.” So it is funny you should observe that. But in response to your question, of saying “I’m back, or whatever,” I have always made my films with the same mindset and passion. The one’s that worked take you too a very high position and when they don’t  I have not gone and re examined myself or anything or get caught up in what you think is right and what you think is wrong, because with films, you never know anything. You deep inside never know which film is going to work, which is not, with what kind of audience. You have a general sense, but nothing certain. But barring that, if everyone knew the magic formula, everyone would be making hits. So given that, I have never concerned myself about the audience or the results, cause this up and down, good or bad, fail or success….most of them are relative. If a film is an abysmal flop you know.

Why is a film about two kids, in rural Rajasthan, catching on the fancy of global audiences, as is evident in the successful festival screenings worldwide?

The core of the film is universal. The story of the underdogs following an impossible dream, there is also an absence of the so called hero and heroine, making it a more everyday person film connect. So it has done 43 festivals across the globe and given this ridiculous connection with the global audiences, it has proved that when things are universal, it will find its audience.

We have not made any global and Indian audiences version, yet it is connecting with all. When that does happen, and it happens only to a few films, you say “thank you” and you move on.

 It is hard enough for the adults to handle the heat of Rajasthan and shoot all day, what was it for when dealing with the kids?

The kids were such troppers that it will put most adult actors to shame. These kids got on the go. Set up and shoot and insane shooting hours and people who work with me know that I do work like a maniac. I work non stop, don’t take a break, but these kids were right there and more, upto the challenge. Plus being a road film had its own share of challenges. It was shot on the cusp of the monsoon and these are all things that come with the territory, but in some instances it works like magic and in Dhanak’s case it did.

You have given good roles, well written to non _ Indians. Be it in Bollywood Calling or for Dhanak?

I know Chet  Dixon, a wonderful actor, whom I have known since my acting class days in Atlanta. We have kept in touch over the years and he is my go to guy, a wonderfully funny actor, an extremely talented musician, he has rendered his own voice to the song in Dhanak.  In any road journey in any corner of the world, it is hard not to meet any backpacker and for me, I clearly loved the hippie era and that’s why the song, “Give Love a Chance.” And of course the Rajasthan sun scared the hell out of Chet, but I got him here and he was awesome.

 A Children’s film that is reaching the Adults?
I don’t think I can write a Children’s film as such. I am writing a film  from the point of view of the characters, in this case, the Children. Whenever, I feel, we in India write a Children’s film with the emphasis on Children, we tend to dumb it down way more that it deserves to be. Children nowadays are very intelligent and aware. Obviously you are going to be aware that the language is correct, etc, but not beyond all that.

 This one is causing more pre release buzz than Lakshmi?

It appears to be and Lakshmi was made and played for a very specific audience and we achieved that. Dhanak, the theme is more positive, more universal and I think that is one of the reasons. But yes, I do feel the pre release positivity.


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