His films are about real people. And with Subhash Ghais Mukta Searchlight Films as producer, Nagesh Kukunoor is all geared up to unleash IQBAL on August 26. The engineer from U.S., who took to film-making with HYDERABAD BLUES, narrates the story of an 18-year-old boy who aspires to join the Indian cricket team. But therere roadblocks for Iqbal [the protagonist in the film]. To start with, hes a deaf and dumb guy. Ive watched a number of sports-based movies in U.S. and most of them revolved around underdogs. By an uncanny coincidence, I would be rooting for the underdog in the film, you want him/her to succeed at the end of the day. Thats the essence of IQBAL as well, Nagesh informs me. Why cricket? Why not football, baseball or any other sport? I decided to opt for a game that Indians would identify with and theres nothing bigger than cricket in India. Besides, not many sport-based films, revolving around cricket in particular, have been attempted on this side of the Atlantic, pat comes the reply. Was LAGAAN, in any way, an inspiration? Never I dont believe in remaking films. I do appreciate good cinema, but I cannot bring myself to attempting a remake. I did get influenced once, when I watched THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and tried interpreting the story my way [as 3 DEEWAREIN]. Thats about it! he admits with utmost honesty. While IQBAL stars Naseeruddin Shah and Girish Karnad in pivotal roles, Nagesh has also made real-life cricketer Kapil Dev wear make up and enact a cameo. The protagonist of my film dreams of becoming a fast bowler some day and to my mind, the one who bowled with lightening speed has been Kapil Dev. Obviously, I didnt want to look elsewhere for the role in question, he states. Not many are aware that Ghai and Nagesh were toying with the idea of starting a film since the past three years and when Ghai heard the story of IQBAL, he knew this was it. Nonetheless, both Ghai and Nagesh belong to different schools of film-making, so was there any clash of ideologies? Lets face it! I cant make hardcore commercial films like Subhash Ghai attempts with flourish. And as far as I remember, I wasnt even pitching IQBAL to him. He liked the concept, we had a few brain storming sessions and only after the creative aspects were okayed by both of us, we decided to begin filming, the maker of IQBAL divulges. He continues in the same breath, Once the script is okayed, I dont like to make any changes whatsoever. I dont want to reach a point where I feel I started something else and ended up making something else altogether. Mr. Ghai knew, at the very outset, that he was going to get a Nagesh Kukunoor film, not a Subhash Ghai film. Ghai, in fact, didnt even attend the shooting of the film [in Hyderabad and Tenali], but viewed the final edited version only when IQBAL was complete. Nagesh adds that the USP of the film is its theme that is easily identifiable by one and all. Its a simple and sweet tale that touches your heart, he adds. With IQBAL slated for an early release, theres talk that Nagesh has decided to concentrate on TANDOOR next. For those whore unaware, the film-maker had confirmed Bachchan Sr. to enact the role of an Indian chef based in New York, but the film didnt progress beyond the announcement stage. But, of late, theres talk in the industry circles that Shah Rukh Khan has volunteered to not only produce the film, but also act in it. If true, does it mean SRK has stepped in Big Bs shoes? I would love to work with Shah Rukh, but TANDOOR revolves around a mature character and it fits Mr. Bachchan to the T. And I wouldnt like to change the script to cast someone younger. The reason why TANDOOR didnt take off can be attributed to the fact that there were differences between the producer and me. He stuck to his ideas, I stuck to mine. As for Shah Rukh wanting to produce and act in TANDOOR, let me be honest, I havent met him for some time now. Id ask Elahe [Nageshs partner] to follow up on this, shes friends with him and would know if he was keen, he emphasizes.
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