Kukunoor’s Dhanak Heads for Berlinale

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QUEEN’S ROAD: Forever creating films that reflect reality uncomfortably close to the bone, Nagesh Kukunoor now returns to the silver screen with a fable like narrative that looks to bring back a certain innocent magic to cinema viewing.

Dhanak (Rainbow), which is co-produced by Manish Mundra, Nagesh Kukunoor and Elahe Hiptoola, will have its world premiere at the upcoming film festival, Berlinale to be held from February 5 to 15. The only Indian feature selected for the festival, Dhanak will compete in the Generation Kplus category against films selected from across the world.

Like Kukunoor’s earlier film Iqbal, Dhanak also explores the relationship of a brother and sister while the central character suffers from a disability, but in a dramatically diverse setting. “An eight-year-old blind boy and his 10-year-old sister journey across the deserts of Rajasthan. The older sister has promised the little boy that he will regain his sight before he turns nine. Hence, the journey,” says director Nagesh Kukunoor.

He however reveals that working with children is not really his cup of tea. “To be honest, after Rockford, I had actually sworn off working with children. But as the golden rule goes, ‘Never say never,’ I find myself coming back to kids for this film. Jokes apart, I just go where my film goes. And seeing that I made Rockford in the winter of 1998, I’ve had some time to recover from it,” he laughs.

Eight-year-old Krish Chabria and nine-year-old Hetal Gada were found through a rigorous casting session that saw over a hundred children record their lines on tape for Kukunoor’s team. “When we made Rockford, we had several hundreds auditioning for us. Things are definitely more streamlined now. And even after we’ve locked down on casting, it’s always a roll of dice. You never know what you have till you’ve started shooting. But I struck gold with these two kids,” says Kukunoor, who himself proclaims to not want any children.

Dhanak was shot entirely in Rajasthan over a span of 33 days. “We shot at 47 different locations within the state, and at some rather adverse conditions at that. There were days when the temperature had hit 50 degree Celsius, and not once did the kids complain,” says Nagesh.

Nagesh, who had promised that he wouldn’t attend Berlinale till one of his films made it to the festival, is glad that he is finally going there with a special film like Dhanak. He says, “It is a true honour to head to a festival that you’ve respected all your life. The journey has been nothing short of magical and we’re going to carry the warmth of Rajasthan into cold Berlin and have a blast.”

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