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Nagesh Kukunoor on a roll...

Courtesy: IndiaFM
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
After the success of Iqbal, filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor is back with his next film Dor which is scheduled to release this week. Also, after working with Percept Picture Company for Dor, Nagesh has recently announced two new films with the banner.

How did Dor happen?
I actually came across a true event where this one woman went in search of another woman to save her husband's life. This event seemed very exciting to me so I thought why not take this event and build a story around it - bringing the women from two diverse geographical locations together; one woman taking a journey to search another. So, I thought of keeping Rajasthan and Himachal as the backdrops. And that's how Dor came alive.

The film's visuals have a very colourful and traditional Rajasthani look. It looks different from any of your earlier creations.
With any film, as long as you are clear about the background and also have done your research and figured out how it fits into your script, it is doable. The same thing happened with Dor. Ayesha's character is from Rajasthan and so the whole backdrop is of Rajasthan. So we went there and did the research. Of course, we as filmmakers take some cinematic liberties, we have to do that, but we got close to portraying what the place is like in real.

You have retained Shreyas Talpade in this film too. Also, his character in Dor seems to be very interesting ...
Shreyas plays a very fascinating character called 'Behroopiya' who is instrumental in getting one woman to another woman. He plays a very important part in the film in completing the woman's journey.

A part of story is based in Saudi Arabia. How did you manage to show that considering shooting is not permitted in Saudi?
We didn't actually shoot in Saudi! It is just the backdrop of the story. As a matter of fact, the story never leaves India. The entire film is shot in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

How was the experience of shooting in Rajasthan?
Shooting in Rajasthan was a physical challenge in terms of dealing with the heat and the sandstorms. Also, during the night shoots, there were scorpions and snakes around. Besides, we chose very remote locations to shoot. Hence, it was a big adventure. Also, getting the movie done on schedule is always exciting.

Was shooting Dor tough for you as a filmmaker?
It was very grueling. It was one of my most physically challenging and demanding movies. It was extremely exhausting. When I was done, I just wanted to sleep for a month.

Salim-Sulaiman have mostly done techno kind of music in the past. And the music of Dor, on the other hand, is very folk and traditional type. So why did you choose them for Dor?
It's not that Salim-Sulaiman are just related to techno. As a matter of fact, they have been doing different kinds of music but they chose to focus heavily on the background scores whereas they are very competent musicians as well in terms of building songs. For Dor, I wanted three songs composed and it was very exciting to work with Salim-Sulaiman because they gave us an opportunity to marry their western classical sensibilities with the Indian influence. And that's where the music of Dor came alive. The song 'yeh hosla' is very inspiring, it's a don't-ever-lose-courage; don't-ever-lose-hope kind of song. 'Imaan kaasar' is a lovely song about friendship and then 'kesariya baalam' is the Rajasthan state's official song. It's a very powerful folk song but then again Salim-Sulaiman have treated it in their own way.

With so many films releasing this week, don't you think it'll be difficult for Dor to carve out its niche?
That only the 22nd of September will tell. Right now, we are all playing the guessing game which is what we all do before the release. We are all jockey; we all position ourselves in the best possible place. But after that, whatever the marketing has done, whatever is the perception of the audiences will decide the fate of the film at the Box Office.

What would you call the USP of Dor?
As a filmmaker if I'm asked the USP, I really don't know. Because at this point I'm so closely associated with the film that I feel I'm the wrong person to answer this question. I always say this to my audience that you go, watch the film and judge it yourself. Because with each film, I do something different and entertain them; and I hope the audiences will give this a shot.

You have now announced two more films Aashayein and Bemisaal with Percept Picture Company (PPC). So, firstly tell us what will be the theme of the film Aashayein?
As the title suggests, it's a movie about hope but oddly enough, the film deals with a man who wins a large amount of money and finds out that he has a very short time to live because he is diagnosed for cancer. It's a good contrast when a movie is titled 'hope' and when a bulk of it deals with death.

Does the title Aashayein gain its inspiration with the song from Iqbal?
Ever since the time, the Iqbal song was recorded, I kept thinking that it is a perfect title for a film but I needed to find a right subject before I could use it and this was it.

Why suddenly the need to rope in a commercial star like John Abraham?
It's not the question of roping in as much as it is about finding the right person to do the role. John has been doing different kinds of cinema. He has recently done films like Water and Kabul Express. And with that I am excited about the prospect that someone who has a so called mainstream Bollywood-Star image is now attempting different kinds of films. And that's what makes this exciting.

Which others actors have been finalized for Aashayein?
No one yet! John is the only one who has been finalized for Aashayein and we are currently working on getting the rest of the cast together.

Is Shreyas going to be a part of Aashayein?
Not for the moment as John is on. But who knows...if the right role pops up, he'll definitely be in.

Who will be doing the music of Aashayein?
Salim-Sulaiman. It's a good winning combination. They are the two people with whom I really really enjoy working with. And that's why I am gonna stick to them.

Tell us about your second film Bemisaal with PPC. What will be the story of that film?
Bemisaal is again an inspiring film that talks about the downtrodden fighting against the system but not in the traditional sense of violence and action. Instead, it is done in a very creative way and it's inspired by a true story.

Have you finalized the cast for Bemisaal?
Nothing as yet! We are working on that.

What about Tandoor with Amitabh Bachchan? Are you still planning to go ahead with the film?
It's something that I hope to revive at some point. It is obviously on the back burner now, since I've been so busy with all these films. Three years ago, Mr Bachchan and I almost did it but the then producer fell ill and after that the project got shelved. Hence, since then we haven't found the right time but hopefully we will do it.

You had said that you would make a film under Mukta Arts Banner after Dor? But now you are announcing Aashayein and Bemisaal ...
When we find the right material we will go ahead with it. The one thing in this industry is that you can never say a "yes" with finality. So who knows...?

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