An upcoming Nagesh Kukunoor film called Dhanak, about two Shah Rukh Khan fans — both poor and one blind — shows a desirable side of a star-fan relationship.
Other kind of fans
Nagesh’s film will shine a light on the kind of fans who make stardom worth the while. Dhanak (which means rainbow) is “the story of an eight-year-old blind boy Chotu promised by his nine-year-old sister Pari that he’ll get back his eyesight before his next birthday. The two children undertake a journey by foot to meet Shah Rukh, in the hope that he will help restore Chotu’s eyesight. The just-released trailer shows the two kids walk all across Rajasthan to meet Khan, who’s supposedly shooting in a far-off village. Along the way, they run into a variety of eccentric characters.
The story came to Nagesh from a random conversation. He says, “I was told about this blind eight-year-old boy by someone. I wanted to turn into a story of hope and happiness.” For that, he cast child actor Krrish Chhabria as Chotu. Krrish has done TV shows before, but Nagesh was undeterred. “We auditioned 150 boys before selecting Krish. He’s an absolute natural. We needed a boy who could act and also look naturally blind.”
Nagesh had a harrowing time directing children in Rockford. “After that film, I decided: Never again. But this story just sucked me into itself. I had to make Dhanak.”
Nagesh did a month’s workshop with Krrish. “We had him spend a day at a school for the blind, just to see and experience how blind children live. We also put a blindfold on him and made him walk around with it. Krrish is amazingly dedicated. And he has a kind, sensible dad who doesn’t behave like normal parents of star-kids.” Pari is played by child actor Hetal Gada.
Nagesh admits he had a tough time shooting in the desert. “We shot in the deserts of Rajasthan for 35 days. It was scorching hot and we had two children playing the lead who couldn’t be pushed to work like adult actors. So I had to shoot around their moods and convenience in hostile weather. But I enjoyed the challenge of doing something unexpected. It is what gives me my identity as a filmmaker.”
Incidentally, Dhanak (June 10) releases two months after SRK’s Fan (April 15), which shows an obsessive fan creating havoc in Shah Rukh Khan’s character’s life.