Trust Nagesh Kukunoor to be different from most in the movie industry. Imagine finding the perfect 14-year-old girl forA�a role and then sending her back. With the movie Lakshmi being based on child trafficking, he says a�?felt immensely guilty about snatching her childhood away by making her enact the role of a child prostitute.a�? It is this sense of social responsibility that also led toA�the making of Lakshmi, a�?It is about the triumph of human spirit, about a victimised girla��s victory in court. It is a hard-hitting drama and in no way is it not going to affect you,a�? he says.
Kukunoor found his lead actress in Monali Thakur (former Indian Idol contestant) who he bumped into at a partya��a�?I visualized her in pigtails and felt she would be perfect for the role,a�? he says. Considering the subject, was it daunting to direct it? a�?Once I am on the sets, ita��s a clinical process. Any emotional attachment to the subject will prove to be detrimental to the movie. So I try to be detached while shooting,a�? confides the director who is also appearing in a crucial role in the movie. The movie, made on a budget of less than Rs 5 crore, has already been screened at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and Mumbaia��s St Xaviera��s College.
On his terms
Responsible for making independent cinema popular in this country, Kukunoor is no trend follower. HisA�Hyderabad BluesA�is still seen as a cult film. Even when he made the socially relevantA�Dor, IqbalA�or the coming-of-ageA�Rockford,A�Nagesh was never swayed by the economics of Bollywood. As a trendsetter of the multiplex friendly low-budget films, he is pleased with the mileage gained by such films in the Rs 100 crore obsessed industry.
We talk about a biopic on Kishore Kumar he was initially reported to be doing, which was later given to Anurag Basu. Why does he think there is a sudden rush of biopics in Bollywood? a�?I don’t think I should make a biopic simply because it is a trend. The story should appeal to me. No biopic is presented in its untainted form in Bollywood. They somehow a�?Bollywoodisea�� it (laughs). I should believe in the power of the subject, then maybe,a�? he trails off.
Lakshmi is scheduled to release on January 17.
a�� Neelima Menon