nagesh kukunoor: I’m anything non-commercial, says filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor

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Director Nagesh Kukunoor says he doesn’t mind that his wide range of filmographies have often been labeled “arthouse” or “quirky” cinema, as he’s comfortable following his instincts.

Kukunoor made his directorial debut in 1998 with ‘Hyderabad Blues’ and has since directed critically acclaimed films such as ‘Rockford’, ‘3 Deewarein’, ‘Dor’, ‘Iqbal’ and ‘Dhanak’.

In the age of streaming services, monikers that were once attached to films going out of the mainstream domain have become “irrelevant”, he said.

“I have been called so many things. There is parallel cinema, quirky cinema. At one point, there was multiplex cinema, also independent cinema and then finally, art and cinema. try. But now those labels don’t really matter.” , especially with the (rise) of streaming platforms. I’m anything that isn’t ‘commercial or mainstream,'” Kukunoor told PTI in a virtual interview.

The 55-year-old filmmaker said previous directors used such terms to pitch their films to exhibitors to get a decent theatrical release.

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“You had to kind of give your movies a nickname because you had to go to a distributor to get it out in theaters. And people would watch my movie and say that movie didn’t have any songs, that’s cinema of art. .

“These things have never really bothered me. The kind of movies I do, I know it can’t explode and find an audience that will make Rs 200 crore. So I’m very comfortable playing in my corner,” Kukunoor added. .

When he started working on his first film “Hyderabad Blues”, the filmmaker said he had no idea about the art of cinema.

“The beauty of this whole process was the fact that I didn’t come from a film background and had been living outside of India for a long time. I was heavily influenced by American independent cinema. And that was a blessing in disguise because I kind of freely developed whatever came into my head,” he recalls.

Kukunoor said he moved to the United States in the late 1980s to pursue a master’s degree in environmental engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and then took a job with a reputable company.

He returned to India in the 1990s to pursue his lifelong dream of directing films and directed “Hyderabad Blues”, an autobiographical story that explored themes of culture shock faced by an NRI, who returns to Hyderabad and found a stranger in his own country. .

While filming the film, the filmmaker said he never heeded the advice offered to him.

“There were a lot of people just giving stupid advice, which they do all the time. While I was making the movie, I didn’t listen to any of it because I always believed that even if it was shit, at least it will be my piece of shit.

“So once it worked, it gave me confidence and I said, ‘Okay, I think I’m going to stick with that.’ There’s a certain instinct that every director has and I pay a lot of attention to that inner voice,” he added.

Kukunoor’s latest project is the Prime Video series “Modern Love Hyderabad”, which brings him back to the city of Nizams.

When asked if he thought the series was a complete moment for him, the filmmaker admitted, saying, “It’s more like going back to Hyderabad to shoot something as big as this- In terms of exploring the city, the answer is yes because the stories are set in such different strata of society that I actually got the chance to really explore Hyderabad in a way that I don’t. haven’t actively made at least in the past decade.”

The Telugu-language show is the second of three Indian adaptations of the original “Modern Love” series, based on the eponymous New York Times column.

‘Modern Love Hyderabad’ comes months after the release of the Hindi version ‘Modern Love Mumbai’ and will be followed by the Tamil edition, titled ‘Modern Love Chennai’.

Kukunoor, who also serves as showrunner, directed three shorts in the anthology — “My Improbable Pandemic Dream Partner,” “Fuzzy Purple and Full of Thorns,” and “Why Did She Leave Me There…?”

The director revealed that when producer-creator Elahe Hiptoola approached him for the series, he immediately turned him down.

“I said no because I hate romance stories. I had no idea what the show was about. But she said, ‘Don’t say no right now, why don’t you watch this show on Amazon?”

“When I saw the first season of the original ‘Modern Love’ and especially the very first episode, I fell in love with it because it wasn’t just about cliché love stories or relationships male-female. It was so much more and explored so many different relationships. So, I was sold,” he said.

‘Modern Love Hyderabad’ features an ensemble cast consisting of Aadhi Pinisetty, Nithya Menen, Ritu Varma, Suhasini Maniratnam,

, Naresh, Malvika Nair, Abijeet Duddala, Naresh Agastya, Komalee Prasad, Ulka Gupta and Rag Mayur. It will premiere on Friday Prime Video.

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