Nagesh Kukunoor describes filmmaking as a test of certainty and conviction of a person because he feels making movies is a "long solo" journey, and one has to stay "sane" during the incubation period.
Be it the story of a deaf and mute boy in "Iqbal" or the fate of two different women crossing the same path in "Dor", Kukunoor has touched the hearts of the audience with his high-on-emotion stories.
"Whenever any filmmaker embarks on the journey of making a film, it's a very long, solo fight. You have to believe very strongly in the subject matter that you are dealing with," Kukunoor told IANS in an interview.
"By the time it reaches the audience, it takes almost a year-and-a-half. So you have to keep your head sane during that period," added the director, who entered Bollywood with the 1998 movie "Hyderabad Blues".
The 46-year-old quit chemical engineering to pursue celluloid dreams, and over the years, his passion for cinema hasn't diminished.
"When I pick my stories, I am extremely passionate about them. I hope the story would do greater good than bad... You can worry about all that people would say, but you cannot go about controlling the opinion of others," he said.
Even though Kukunoor has a credible number of films to his credit, he has still not tried his hands at a full-on masala movie. Although the genre fascinates him, the filmmaker believes he may not handle the topic as skillfully as other mainstream filmmakers.
"I want to dabble in every genre. I consider masala movie a genre as well. I still cannot make what other filmmakers have because my sensibilities are my sensibilities.
"It is very similar to how you would perceive a dish or wear clothes. It completely has to work with your personality. I would still be different from anybody who takes the same material and make a film and there is nothing wrong with it," he said.
Interestingly, Kukunoor makes "zara hatke" (standing out of the crowd) films, but he has worked with Bollywood's mainstream actors like John Abraham, Juhi Chawla and Akshay Kumar and managed to fuse two different worlds of parallel and mainstream actors.
Asked if bringing commercially successful actors in parallel cinema helps in getting more eyeballs, he said: "An actor will first have to take a chance... The second thing is that you hope that the audience accepts the actor in that role.
"Let's say that I do convince the actor and get him on board... Yes, you will get more eyeballs, but the material still has to appeal to the audience, who predominantly looks for a timepass."
Kukunoor was recently associated with CineArt 'Aqua' campaign organised by PVR Nest that had short stories made by children on importance of saving water.
"I have not faced any water shortage, but I am extremely conservative about water and that is personally all that I can do. At a filmmaker level, I can draw attention to issues like that with my work," he said.
"My film 'Ye Honsla' deals with extremely similar issue. It deals with water shortage in a village in Rajasthan and power of camera that empowers people to tell the story," he added.
His next movie "Laxmi" is based on child prostitution and is in its post production stage. Kukunoor will also be seen in the role of a pimp in it.
(Yashika Mathur can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)