Nagesh Kukunoor

  • Actor, Director, Writer, Producer, Screenplay, Dialogue Writer

Mar 30, 1967  in Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Also Known as: Nagesh Kukunoor Naidu

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Born on 30th March 1967, Nagesh Kukunoor is an Indian film director, actor, screenplay writer, and producer. Popularly known for his works in parallel cinema, Kukunoor has directed films like Hyderabad Blues (1998), Rockford (1999), 3 Deewarein (2003), Iqbal (2005), Dor (2006), and Dhanak (2016). For his commendable work in Indian film industry, Kukunoor has been honored with a National Award and Filmfare Award.

Early Life
Nagesh Kukunoor was born in Hyderabad to Kusuma Sudarshan and KS Naidu. Even as a child, Kukunoor was very passionate about cinema and loved to watch English, Telugu, and Hindi films. After studying chemical engineering at Osmania University in Hyderabad, Kukunoor moved to Atlanta, in 1988, where he completed his Master's degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering. After that, he started working as an environmental consultant at Trinity Consultants in Dallas, Texas, and simultaneously attended workshops in film and television. He also studied acting at the Warehouse Actor's Theatre in Atlanta and co-produced and directed a short film, One Culture at a Time.

Acting career
After completing his education, Kukunoor moved back to India and directed his first film Hyderabad Blues, in 1998. This movie also marked his debut as an actor and producer. He wrote the story of the film while working in Atlanta, and simultaneously collected the funds to produce it. The movie is about how an NRI who is vacationing back home in Hyderabad, India, finds himself a foreigner in his own land. Premiered at the Peachtree International Film Festival in Atlanta and the Rhode Island Film Festival, the movie opened to rave reviews from the international audience and was a critical success domestically as well.

After his successful debut, he went on to work with well-known actors and experimented in several genres. Kukunoor's next movie Rockford was a coming-of-the-age movie, set in a boarding school, and co-starred Nandita Das. In 2003, Kukunoor directed his next venture 3 Deewarein, in which he also starred, along with Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff, and Juhi Chawla. After having been screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, the film was also showcased at the Kolkata Film Festival. For 3 Deewarein, he went on to receive the Filmfare Award for Best Story. His next movie Hyderabad Blues 2, a sequel to Hyderabad Blues, was a flop and failed to create much impact.

Next came his critically acclaimed film, Iqbal, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Shreyas Talpade in the lead. Directed by Kukunoor, this movie's simple yet soul touching script won millions of hearts. So much was the impact of the film that it went on to win the National Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues. Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah also won the National Award for Best Supporting Actor for Iqbal.

His subsequent film Dor, which released in 2006, received positive reviews in India. Adapted from the Malayalam film Perumazhakkalam, it is a tale of two women from two different worlds, and how their lives get interlinked when a tragedy strikes home. Screened at Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival, the film featured Ayesha Takia, Gul Panag, and Shreyas Talpade as the lead actors.

After an array of flop films like Bombay to Bangkok, 8x10 Tasveer, Mod, and Aashayein, Kukunoor made the critically acclaimed film Lakshmi in 2014. A biographical film about harsh realities of human trafficking and prostitution, the film won Best Film - Mercedes-Benz Audience Award, for Best Narrative at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The director's next film, Dhanak, which was screen at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival won The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the best feature length film. Produced by Manish Mundra and Elahe Hiptoola, the movie focuses on the struggles of a little girl who has promised her blind younger brother that he will get his vision back before he turns 10. In India, the movie released on 17th June 2016.