You can immediately tell Nagesh Kukunoor is a storyteller.
Walking along London’s Southbank, Kukunoor is relentlessly curious, chatting to random people and exploring the minutiae of everything: the consummate observer.
It’s a trait that’s stood him in good stead over a filmmaking career spanning nearly two decades and marked out his unique brand of cinema above the flotsam that Bollywood usually churns out.
Kukunoor’s breakout, self-financed debut feature ‘Hyderabad Blues’ was a lovingly-crafted observation of his own identity struggles as an Non Resident Indian. 2001’s ‘Bollywood Calling’ was an hilarious look at the inanities of Bollywood whilst ‘Iqbal’ was a subtle exploration on the attitude towards disability in India.
His latest offering, ‘Lakshmi’ is arguably his most perceptive and most important film since he gave up a lucrative career as an environmental engineer in the United States to enter the unpredictable and often mystifying business of cinema.
Based on real-life events, the film is a hard-hitting look at the horrors of child-trafficking in India where thousands of young girls are abducted and sold into prostitution.
The film is written, produced and directed by Kukunoor, 47, who also stars in the role of ‘Chinna’, the brutal pimp who manages a notorious Hyderabad brothel.
‘Lakshmi’ opened the 2014 London Asian Film Festival where Kukunoor was interviewed by the UKAsian’s editor-in-chief Viji Alles.