Highlighting the plight of sex workers in India, Nagesh Kukunoora��shard-hitting Lakshmi comes to theatres
On The Fridays his movies release, Nagesh Kukunoor is a mess. Each release sucks the blood out of him he saysa��one of the reasons, possibly, why he is hard to pin down before this weeka��s Lakshmi. a�?I love making movies. And I hold up till the last week, but then it is a huge mess,a�? says the director, who is known for gems like Hyderabad Blues, Dor and Iqbal. In his Lakshmi, the Hyderabad-based director has donned the grease paint to play a brutal pimp, along with protagonist Monali Thakur. He tackles censor board issues, typecasting, and the possibility of a regional movie, in a quick interview:
Prostitution is a subject that has been explored before. What prompted you to choose it?
There is nothing that hasna��t been done before. Every issue I take up has my take on the issue. Every film, even the obscure ones like Bombay to Bangkok, had me believing in it. Lakshmi was a lofty project and it focussed on something that is happening right under our noses. I was invited to a rescue shelter where I thought I would get to hear sad stories. But the women were full of revenge and heroism. I met a 14-year-old girl there who was forced into prostitution, who inspired me to do this film.
Why screen the movie in colleges before its release?
It is a very sensitive topic and I knew the marketing capital will not be huge. I had to get creative and get the word out. And when you do the maths, a large percentage of movie goers are students.
How are the censor boards in India and the US different?
When the censor board gives an a�?Aa�� in the US, they do not ask directors to crop any scenes. But thata��s not the case here. Ia��ve been battling this issue for quite sometime now, but they still want us to change dialogues, crop scenes, etc. That makes no sense and, yes, I will continue to complain about it.
You seem to prefer film festivals over the box office.
If my movies do well at the box office, then my longevity as a director is secured. But I absolutely love film festivals. The idea of your movie being seen by a global audience is brilliant. It is also a chance for a director to interact with his audience.
How do you avoid being typecast?
There is a narrow line between art and commerce, and there is this space that is unexplored. I would like to fall in that category.A� The idea of telling different stories and mixing up genres is what is appealing.
How about a regional film?
I will not venture into Telugu movies without bettering my knowledge of the language. A lot of directors nowadays say, a�?We can have a Punjabi girl read Tamil lines and then dub it.a�? I dona��t agree.
A movie that impressed you?
I watch a Hollywood movie every week and get inspired. But Dallas Buyers Club is one that left me saying, a�?I wish I had made that movie.a�?
Lakshmi is scheduled to release today.
a�� Mrinalini Sundar