Nagesh Kukunoor: Best way to address disability is to not address it

Be it 'Iqbal' or his upcoming film 'Dhanak', Nagesh Kukunoor has a knack for sensitively handling the stories of differently abled characters and the director says his aim is always to focus on their strength rather than what they lack.

Nagesh Kukunoor
Nagesh Kukunoor

The 49-year-old 'Dor' helmer says he always had an issue with the way disability is projected in Indian films.

"I feel that the best way to address disability is to not address it at all. There is never a mention of character's physical condition in my films. My stories are never on disability. They are about characters who want something in their life like all of us. They are no different.

"I have never seen these people sit and weep. I have an inherent problem with the way disability is depicted n-screen," Kukunoor told PTI.

While 'Iqbal' was the story of a deaf and mute cricketing talent, his upcoming film 'Dhanak' is a heartwarming tale of a little boy, who undertakes a journey with his elder sister, in hope to get his vision back with the help of superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

Kukunoor thinks there is preconceived notion about differently abled people.

"People, who have put a specific criteria for them, find reasons to complain. On the other hand, the differently abled person makes peace with the fact that somethings are there and somethings aren't.

"We need to understand that they lead normal life, it's only in our films that they are shown like they are always crying. Its not true at all."

The director said it was a relief to work on "Dhanak" after making dark, human trafficking drama "Lakshmi".

"Writing 'Dhanak' was like a catharsis. With this film, my only purpose is to remind people that the world is not such a horrible place. I have two children in my film and kids have this wonderful ability to trust people. I wanted to write a happy film."

The actor-director says it was also a bit of nostalgia for his childhood that inspired him to make this movie.

"In my head, the India I grew up in was totally wonderful. I had a very good childhood. I want to go back in time. Now, life in India is completely based on the foundation of mistrust. From auto driver to the house help, we doubt everyone. It is such a horrible, cynical way to live life.

"In this film, I am creating a world, I would want to live in. The ideal world I am showing it existed, it is not Utopian, it was there 20 odd years ago."

The work of the National-award winning director is usually slotted in the parallel cinema category, but Kukunoor feels such tags don't matter anymore.

"The badge of parallel or commercial cinema is never in my mind while making a film. I think this classification of cinema is irrelevant in todays time. It was necessary back then when information was scarce and audience needed some expert to tell the difference.

"The lines are blurring. Mainstream films are being made without songs. No one ever dared to do this before," he said.

Produced by Manish Mundra, Nagesh Kukunoor, and Elahe Hiptool, 'Dhanak', will release on June 17.

The movie stars child actors Hetal Gadda and Krrish Chhabria as Pari and Chotu.

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