He has worked with commercial actors, but never made a commercial film. The chemical engineer-turned-filmmaker's tryst with parallel cinema, that began with 'Hyderabad Blues' in 1998, continues with 'Dhanak' (2015). As Nagesh Kukunoor turns 49, we look at five films that catapulted him to critical acclaim.
'Dor' (2006)Ayesha Takia in a still from 'Dor'. Pic/Santa Banta
Set against the backdrop of Rajasthan, Nagesh Kukunoor weaves together a heart-warming story of how a 'behrupiya' helps Zeenat meet Meera, the woman who holds the 'dor' to Zeenat's hope of saving her husband's life. Armed with stellar performances from its lead actors Ayesha Takia, Gul Panag and Shreyas Talpade, Nagesh delivers a story about love, loss, friendship and redemption.
'Iqbal' (2005)Shreyas Talpade in and as 'Iqbal'. Pic/Santa Banta
Here's a story of a deaf and mute lad whose ambition is to play for India's national cricket team. The film isn't as much about cricket as it is about working towards your goal despite all odds. If 'Iqbal' doesn't inspire you to chase your dreams, nothing will. Nagesh Kukunoor won the National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues for 'Iqbal'.
'3 Deewarein' (2003)Poster of '3 Deewarein' featuring Naseeruddin Shah, Nagesh Kukunoor and Jackie Shroff. Pic/Santa Banta
The film narrates the story of three men on a death row, who are the subjects of a filmmaker's documentary. Nagesh found inspiration for '3 Deewarein' from a documentary on prisoners at the Yerwada Central Jail. He shot the film at the Musheerabad Jail in Hyderabad. The film not only garnered critical appreciation but also received standing ovation at film festivals. It won the Filmfare Award for Best Story.
'Rockford' (1999)A still from 'Rockford'/ Pic/YouTube
This is a story of a 13-year-old boy who is admitted to Rockford Boy's High School. It will take you on a nostalgic trip back to your school days, reminiscent of pleasant memories like that of your mischievous friends, the pranks, your first crush, and also the unpleasant ones like ragging and bullying. Also, remember 'Yaaron'? That classic song by KK that played at your farewell parties? Yes, that's from 'Rockford'.
'Hyderabad Blues' (1998)A still from 'Hyderabad Blues'. Pic/YouTube
Nagesh Kukunoor used the money he made from his engineering career in the US to produce his debut feature film 'Hyderabad Blues'. The movie revolves around the culture shock the protagonist receives on returning home to India after 12 years in the US. 'Hyderabad Blues' is regarded as one of the most successful independent films in India.