Hindi Cinema has always flaunted an array of filmmakers making their mark through their art. From poetic auteur such as Guru Dutt, mass entertainment maker like Manmohan Desai and coming of age directors like Imtiaz Ali, Shakun Batra and Ayan Mukherjee. In between these names, there's a man with ideas so diverse that he has created his own genre in this crowd of talent. Nagesh Kukunoor doesn't need an introduction in the industry. All movie buffs around the nation will have one or two Nagesh Kukunoor's film in their list of must-watch, because of the fresh take and brilliant storytelling.
As the director turns a year older, we take a look at his five films that established him as a niche filmmaker carving a path less trodden in the film industry.
Who can forget the breezy school life story of Rockford. The slice of life drama was touted ahead of its time because of the content Kukunoor tried to portray in the film. The film released in 1999, when the world was at the cusp of experiencing a new era, and at the time Hindi Film Industry saw the coming of a brilliant storyteller and executioner. Till date, Rockford remains a favorite of the millennials who grew up singing Yaaron Dosti by KK.
After a slice of life drama, Kukunoor experimented with a crime-film. Starring Juhi Chawla, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah and Gulshan Grover , the film narrated the story of three prisoners and a documentary filmmaker who, while filming their reformation story in the prison, finds redemption with her own troubled marriage. The film was well received by the critics for its sensitive portrayal of otherwise brutal prison system of India and for giving a human touch to it. Kukunoor won a Nation Award for best story for this film.
Kukunoor went ahead with his experimental streak and directed a sports-drama. A beautiful story of a deaf and dumb but talented bowler, Iqbal was a sports film with its heart in all the right places. The film inspired many after its release and made the otherwise commercial industry take note of a silent director making film with a soul. Iqbal proved the talent of Kukunoor and gave Shreyas Talpade a breakthrough, many could only dream of. The director also received the National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues.
Another masterpiece from Kukunoor's artsy mind, Dor is one of the most poignant films in the parallel cinema. With different layers of emotions, guilt, redemption and liberation, the film tells the tale about two women who come from different backgrounds and how fate brings them together. One is bound by traditions other by her circumstances and how together they achieve freedom, makes the narrative of the film. Considered as one of Kukunoor's best works in storytelling, Dor is etched into the minds of the viewers as a beautiful culmination of visual metaphors weaved together in a heart-warming narrative.
Kukunoor again experimented with his art when he decided to tell a gritty tale on prostitution through Lakshmi. The gruesome story dealt with the harsh realities of human trafficking and child prostitution, which continue behind closed curtains in rural areas of India. With ground dialogues and 'oh-so-real' visuals, Lakshmi got raving reviews from the critics all around the world. Kukunoor got the Best Narrative award for the film at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival.
After a dark and gritty tale on prostitution, Kukunoor made his way onto children's film with Dhanak. A warming story of two kids who are on a road trip to meet their favourite superstar, was veiled with so many emotions and unadulterated sibling love. With Dhanak, Kukunoor once again proved that he has a Midas touch with human stories and no other director can capture so many emotions into one narrative with such realism.
Nagesh Kukunoor has earned a strong name in cult Hindi Cinema with his films. His storytelling not only melts your heart but touches your soul and make you see the world with sensitive eyes. Not all filmmakers can do that and thus Kukunoor is an auteur, this generation is lucky enough to have.
Wishing the storyteller a very happy birthday.