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Hyderabad Blues

NRI, well known in Mumbai film industry produce realistic movies

  • NRI, Chemical engineer, a film maker Nagesh Kukunoor returned back home soil with his ideas to make half-Hindi-half-English mystery drama. He made movie like ‘Hyderabad Blues’ or ‘Rockford’ or ‘Bollywood Calling’ or ‘3 Deewarein’ movies
  • He produced one of the low-budget Indian film to be distributed in the country.
  • Nagesh Kukunoor said,''My movies are about real people doing mundane stuff. I am always on the look out for new themes and pick up ideas by observing people.'' The Atlanta-based director said he tried not to put himself in the place of his characters as they can end up being caricatures of himself. ''At the same time, Rajesh in Rockford and Varun in Hyderabad Blues are quite close to the real me,'' he said.


The story is the hero of my films: Nagesh Kukunoor

New Delhi, Aug 28, 2005

He is known in the Mumbai film industry as a maker of ‘realistic’ films which cast a satiric look at social mores in India as well as on elements of popular culture.

Whether it be capturing the dilemmas confronting an NRI youth on his visit to India in ‘Hyderabad Blues’ or a Hollywood actor trying to come to terms with the working of the the Mumbai film industry in ‘Bollywood Calling’, Nagesh Kukunoor’s films have always treaded the ‘closer-to-reality’ path rather than indulging in ‘larger-than-life’ portrayals or dishing out escapist fare.

For the US-returned engineer who pioneered the trend of the English language crossover cinema in India, maintaining a touch of realism in his films is but a reflection of his sensibilities as a filmmaker.

‘’There are ‘larger-than-life or escapist’ commercial films, there are thrillers and then there are realistic films. As a filmmaker I have certain sensibilities due to which it would not be possible for me to make hardcore commercial films with conviction. The reason why most of my films be it ‘Hyderabad Blues’ or ‘Rockford’ or ‘Bollywood Calling’ or ‘3 Deewarein’ have had a closer-to-life’ feel about them is that I am most comfortable making such films. In any case I feel there is place under the sun for all kinds of films to co-exist,’’Nagesh Kukunoor told UNI in an interview here.

The director of several critically acclaimed films is now ready with his new offering ‘Iqbal’, an inspiring tale of a 18 year-old deaf and mute boy’ who dreams of becoming a part of India’s "Men in Blue".

Lending him support in his endeavour is none other than Subhash Ghai, who is producing the film, which released on August 26, under his new banner, Mukta Searchlight films.

For Nagesh, here in connection with the premiere of his film at Delhi's PVR Plaza on Thursday night, the fact that a filmmaker like Subhash Ghai, known for his hardcore commercial cinema, is financially backing the film is evidence enough of the increasing relevance of his kind of films in today’s scenario.

‘’I feel that in the current scenario, my kind of films, with a certain amount of realism, can perfectly co-exist with commercial fares like, say, ‘Bunty aur Babli’ or ‘Dhoom’. This is evident from the huge success for a film like ‘Black’. A decade ago nobody would have imagined that a film without five to ten songs would do well.''

  • Rockford, narrating the story of a teenager in a boarding school, the former chemical engineer dished out an interesting insight into teenage psychology, he again featuring as a school teacher. Adding spice to the film was the dusky woman of substance Nandita Das. Even the music of the film ruled many a lips for long besides the programme charts of course.

Nagesh Kukunoor to venture into Hindi films

NOVEMBER 13, 2002

KOLKATA: Acclaimed Indian diaspora film maker Nagesh Kukunoor has finally returned to home soil with his half-Hindi-half-English mystery drama Teen Deewarein and says his next film might be purely in Hindi.
The maker of Hyderabad Blues , one of the low-budget Indian film to be distributed in the country, told a press meet at the Kolkata Film Festival on Wednesday that he wanted more Indians to see his films and hence chose a half-Hindi venture.
"With a little more confidence, I would do a pure Hindi film," Kukunoor, whose Teen Deewarein premiered in India with rave reviews here last evening, said.
The chemical engineer, who gave up a lucrative career as an environmental consultant in Atlanta to venture into films, said the departure from English was a conscious decision as he wanted to work for people in his country of origin.
The director, who divides his time between India and USA, said meaningful Indian films were already making inroads into the international market.
"Indian English film makers have already created a stir in western cinema and a number of new directors are doing great jobs," he said.

Nagesh Kukunoor starts his 1st Hindi film

JUNE 06, 2002

He's the man credited for bringing small-budget English films to India. The man behind Hyderabad Blues , Rockford and Bollywood Calling is wielding his megaphone for the fourth time. But this time it's a full length Hindi film complete with hardcore Bollywood commercial actors. "The film is called 3 Deewarein and it starts Naseerruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff and Nagesh Kukunoor himself. Juhi Chawla (after her motherhood) makes a comeback with this film. "It is a mystery involving three murders that take place on a single day. The film is about three convicts- Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Schoff and Nagesh Kukunoor. Juhi Chawla plays a documentary filmmaker who comes to make a film on their lives. And through her eyes we learn what happened on that day. The film is somewhat on the lines of Sixth Sense ," says Nagesh. Sounds like Sixth Sense, Hyderabadi style!

Kukunoor gets his Blues again

Mumbai , June 13, 2000
The Hindu Business Line
Shyam G Menon
Latha Venkatraman

Nagesh Kukunoor: "I understand the business well enough to know that second-guessing the film is the wrong way to go about it. It is the biggest guessing game out there. I think you have a better chance in a horse race."

An unknown during his screen debut in July 1998, distributor Shringar Films arranged a "careful release," a two week-run at a Goregaon theatre for Nagesh Kukunoor's first feature film. Slowly, Hyderabad Blues simmered to a craze, making it to Delhi by December 1998, finishing its India run by February 1999.

"Hyderabad Blues will be the fondest memory of film making I have," Kukunoor who acted as Naidu, said on Friday. The film's cost, Rs 17 lakh, "an aberration to the point of being an anomaly in the field of marketing." He is now ready with a sequel costing roughly Rs 2 crore.

`Hyderabad Blues-2 Rearranged Marriage' will be distributed by UTV Motion Pictures and compared to the guarded market foray of its predecessor, be screened in eight Indian cities (Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Chennai) at start with likely simultaneous domestic and international release.

Six years since Hyderabad Blues' cautious opening, Kukunoor is a seasoned filmmaker, with three more films (Rockford, Bollywood Calling, Teen Deewarein) now to his credit. With that track record and an original title synonymous with successful offbeat films, Kukunoor had no difficulty getting support for the sequel.

He got the entire old cast, save Rajeshri Nair who played Aswini, wife of the main protagonist, Naidu. She was replaced by Jyoti Dogra. Further, Hyderabad Blues-2 is structured for an audience that saw the 1998 offering and those that didn't.

But sequels with the same characters and a story line carried over from the first film are rare in Bollywood. Kukunoor's film is Hyderabad Blues re-visited six years down the line. Naidu now runs a call centre, and his wife wants to start a family. But he is reluctant to commit; and has an attraction for his office manager.

In 1998, Naidu-from-US was a character quite real for many Indian families but as yet unarticulated for the silver screen. His perception of home and vice-versa was arguably a theme begging to strike a chord, which it did. Since then, several Bollywood and `cross-over' films on similar themes came, travel abroad became common place in urban India and the `techie' lost his curio value.

If Naidu's generation became regular by 2004, what is there anymore to his story?

Kukunoor disagrees with such a simplistic view, arguing that the original film had appealed for different reasons to different people. If some found newness to the NRI angle, there were those who liked it for questioning arranged marriage. "I have always kept the market out," he said of the tendency to work themes favoured by the market into movies.

"I understand the business well enough to know that second-guessing the film is the wrong way to go about it. It is the biggest guessing game out there. I think you have a better chance in a horse race." Kukunoor concedes that a prime reason preserving his creative control and ability to discount market compulsions is "the league I am playing in is small enough."

At two crore rupees, Naidu's second coming next month is low budget by current standards. Still, one difference will invite gaze on how the sequel fares. As Kukunoor himself said, "Hyderabad Blues was a life-changing event, an experience. Now, this is a film."

For Naidu, the journey may have just begun.


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NRI, Chemical engineer, a film maker Nagesh Kukunoor


Nagesh Kukunoor (Left) with co-stars in Hyderabad Blues. Kukunoor is making a sequel Hyderabad Blues-2.