Nagesh Kukunoor

Chemical Engineer , Actor and Film Maker

Kukunoor out to shoot shooting stars

After weaving reality into reels of quality entertainment, Nagesh 'Hyderabad' Kukunoor is out to shoot the shooting stars.

Titled Bollywood Calling, the US-based Andhrite's third directional venture after reaping a fair amount of fame through the ground-breaking low-budget films Hyderabad Blues and Rockford, is claimed to be an out-an-out comedy, a family entertainer, a film for the masses and yet minus the avoidable glitz and grime that an usual Bollywood potboiler is soaked in. Simply put, the movie, aimed at an Oscar, takes a no-hold-barred glance at the world of Indian filmmaking.

Employing versatile actor Om Puri in a producer's role in the film, it starts with the entry of an out-of-luck B-grade American movie star into the Indian tinsel town who is to act opposite an aging, but legendary Indian star played out by Navin Nischol. What emits after pitting in an American opposite a 'desi' hero is nerve-tickling, hilarious ramifications and setbacks which are part and parcel of Indian cinema.

''I had a wonderful time playing a filmmaker. It was great as I had my family with me. And since the hotel in Hyderabad was in the vicinity, we didn't have to leave the sets,'' Om Puri told a film weekly recently. The film's shooting, the most of which took place in Kukunoor's home city Hyderabad and a bit of it in America, is almost complete.

Pre-release reviews of the movie are of the opinion that what sets it apart from the director's earlier ventures is its musical content. The music, the reviews say, is very refreshing, simple, meaningful and very pleasing to the ears. The sound track, is, however, not yet out in the market.

Packed with good music encircling an interesting storyline besides Kukunoor's earlier track record as a director capable of delivering the goods, Bollywood Calling is hoped to attract a good number of movie-goers to the theatres. Hyderabad Blues swept many off their feet with a typical projection of a US-returned's dilemma. The actors and actresses were mostly his relatives and friends, to cut the costs, besides Kukunoor playing the lead.

Similarly in 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.

Said the 33-year-old Kukunoor, ''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.

But this time Kukunoor cut out no role for him in the film and is actually fully behind the camera. Airing his views on the talented director, Om said ''As a director, he is like Sanjay Bhansali and Kamal Haasan, who try to make films meaningful and commercially successful at the same time.''

And that speaks volumes.