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"Newsmakers from Hyderabad"

 

Reachout's  Newsmaker

Nagesh Kukunoor
From HB1 to HB2

 

Hyderabad:A Chemical engineer from U.S. of A, Nagesh Kukunoor has redefined Indian cinema by making a successful film like 'Hyderabad Blues' on a shoestring budget. His amateurish attempt in filmmaking has triggered hosts of other filmmakers to attempt making films of that genre. His offbeat films like 'Hyderabad Blues' and 'Rockford ' 'Bollywood Calling' 'Teen Deewarein' has been very well received all over India and now he is ready with Hyderabad Blues 2, a sequel to his super hit 'Hyderabad Blues'.

He did his masters in Georgia, Atlanta and then worked as an environmental consultant in the U.S. Giving up a lucrative career, Nagesh managed to pursue his true dream of making a movie. After completing a series of workshops in film and television, in addition to studying acting as well as directing actors at the Warehouse Actor's Theatre in Atlanta, Nagesh co-produced and directed a short film, "One culture at a time", in 1995.

Returning to India with just his savings and loans, Nagesh produced, wrote, acted and directed the immensely successful 'Hyderabd Blues'. Hyderabad Blues was made in just 17 days flat on a miniscule budget of just Rs 17 lakhs.The film was Shot as a trilingual film with dialogue in English, Hindi and Telugu.The film was pre-produced for about a year before actual production began. Not being able to afford a proper production team or even a production manager, he chose to cast the film himself auditioning each and every actor and convincing them to act in the film without any compensation. Relatives and friends came to his aid and all locations except the marriage hall for the film's climax were provided free.

There were initial hiccups though; the distributor had to give away thousands of tickets free for the first couple of days before the craze caught on. Eventually the film went on to become the largest grossing low budget Indian film in English. Some of the box-office records in India were astounding given the fact that the film was not what was traditionally defined as "commercial 'in Indian Filmdom. It ran to packed houses for 31 weeks in Mumbai, 28 weeks in Hyderabad and 28 weeks in Bangalore. It has featured in about 10 international film festivals. With it's commercial box office success in India Kukunoor has created a new genre in Indian cinema that of the low budget films that break the traditional barrier of both commercial and art cinema.

Nagesh's second film 'Rockford' was a sophomoric effort (written and directed by him) .It also follows the same style of film making -telling empathetic stories that are real and everyday like, as well as entertaining. Inspite of a life threatening accident just two weeks prior to principal photography, 'Rockford' was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Besides it's tour of several film festivals it was also commercially successful, doing over 16 weeks of business in India. The movie, Rockford, is very important to Hyderabadis because most of the little men in the movie are budding stars of the twin cities.

Hyderabad Blues 2 has been released all over India on July 2nd.The old characters are all there-Varun, his wife Ashwini and their friends Sanjeev and Seema.The film focusses on their lives, six years after marriage. Though he made 'Hyderabad Blues' with a modest budget of Rs17 Lakhs, for the sequel Nagesh has spent more than 2 Crores. The film was shot extensively in Hyderabad and was wrapped up in 30 days.

- August' 2004

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