Dhanak – A film with kids but not just for kids
Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak has been garnering praise from all quarters ever since it started its film festival journey. The film that has won awards across the globe beautifully captures the emotional journey of two siblings – Pari and Chotu, set against the backdrop of the deserts of Rajasthan.
As the film readies for a theatrical release, we caught up with the talent behind this heartwarming film. Here’s what director Nagesh Kukunoor, child artists Hetal Gadda and Krish Chhabria and the singer of its title track Monali Thakur have to say about this film that will appeal to everyone.
We have had films like Nanhe Jaisalmer and I am Kalam, which also revolves around the plot of children meeting their idol. How is Dhanak different from them?
The main plot of Dhanak doesn’t deal with the children meeting the star but the love of two siblings for each other. It is mainly about an unknown journey taken by Pari to restore her brother Chotu’s eyesight before his ninth birthday.
What was your main inspiration behind the making of Dhanak?
One of the things that I keep reminding myself while making a movie is that the world is not a bad place. There is some goodness and good people are still around. I wanted to remind myself of the India that I grew up in, where people trusted each other. Coming after a dark film like Lakshmi, it was almost cathartic to making Dhanak. Dhanak is a film with kids and around kids but not only for kids.
How would you describe the condition of children’s films in India? Is there something lacking? What should the focus be on?
Art should never stop questioning. The problem with children’s films made in India is that they really dumb it down, making it appeal only to children. There’s a different kind of ideology that is followed during the making of such films. I have very strongly resisted this approach. I’ve always believed that children’s films always need an enormous amount of intelligence, approach and that’s how I have always done my films, even though I deal with kids. There’s always a room for improvement for any art form especially any category or genre of films.
Dhanak covers a wide range of music. Can you elaborate more on that?
Dhanak has a genuinely good album. And, anybody who listens to it would say that Tapas Relia (Music Director) has done a fantastic job. The version of ‘Dum-a-Dum Mast Qalandar’ is so organic, heartwarming and heart touching. My song is a beautiful melody. It’s the title track of the film, which is also called ‘Dhanak’. It has superb lyrics and has a different flow. Even the rest of the songs like ‘Jeene se bhi zyaada’ are amazing numbers. So music lovers are definitely going to love it. It gives me happiness to be a part of these kinds of albums, to be able to sing such melodies. As an audience too, I love the album.
This is the second time that you’re working with Nagesh, his film Laxmi being the first. How was the association this time round?
Honestly, Nagesh and Elahe (Hiptoola) are like my family now. So, whenever they will say, ask or call me for anything, I will always be there. They are such focused, hardworking and sincere filmmakers, that it’s such a pleasure to be associated with them.
How would you define your journey in the industry from Race to Dhanak?
It has been very diverse, very exciting, with ups and down but again very adventurous. I learnt a lot and I grew a lot in this journey and I’m proud of it.
Hetal Gadda and Krish Chhabria
How was it working with director Nagesh Kuknoor? Is he a fun person or a strict master?
Hetal: This is my first film, so my experience with Nagesh sir was simply great. Although I was very nervous, he made sure that I overcame all my nervousness. He’s a very fun loving director who seeks perfection. He’s an amazing man who loves kids and it was my immense pleasure working with Nagesh sir and also this naughty little kid, Chotu.
Krish: This is my first film too (as a lead actor). We had lots of fun with Nagesh sir. It was a superb experience. Hetal is also a very nice girl. I loved everything.
In the film you (Pari) are shown to be a huge fan of Shah Rukh Khan and you (Chotu) are shown to be a big fan of Salman Khan. Which superstars are you both really fans of?
Hetal: In the film as well as in the real life, I am a big fan of Shah Rukh sir.
Krish: And I am a huge fan of Salman Bhai.
How did Rajasthan treat you while shooting?
Hetal: This is the first time I’ve been to Rajasthan. So, the trip was quite exciting and we had a lot of fun there. It was quite hot as we shot in summers. We shot at 42 different places.
Krish: The trip was very exciting. Although it was very hot, we had fun there. But there were two types of insects which irritated us a lot. One of the insects was very nice, it was called Birbabutti.