Early Life of Onir
Onir was born as Anirban Dhar in Thimphu, Bhutan. His father Aparesh Dhar and mother Manjushree are of Bengali origin. Onir spent much of his childhood going to the cinema. Earlier, Aparesh Dhar had resigned from his position as a school principal when his Nepalese students were removed and arrested. In Kolkata, Onir studied comparative literature and took a few film classes at Chitrabani film school. He graduated from Jadavpur University in 1989, but left before getting his post-graduate degree when he received a scholarship to study film editing at SFBTTC in Berlin.
Early Career of Onir
Onir later returned to India and worked as an editor, script writer, art director, music album producer and song /music video director. He also served as an assistant to Kalpana Lajmi on Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence (2001) where he had his first experience directing a full-length commercial feature film.
Directorial Career of Onir
Onir is best known for his film My Brother…Nikhil, based on the life of Dominic d'Souza, and one of the first mainstream Hindi films to deal with AIDS and same-sex relationships. It was while working on a documentary about Dominic D'Souza, a champion swimmer and AIDS patient in Goa, that Onir conceived the idea for his first film. His directorial debut, My Brother... Nikhil (2005), deals with the Goan government's harsh treatment of AIDS patients in the 1980s and the stigma attached to them. My Brother... Nikhil was screened at several international film festivals and Juhi Chawla received an IIFA nomination for her role as the main character's supportive sister. It won the 'Audience Choice Awards in Milan, LGBT film festival, Best Film and over 40 International Film festivals. In 2006 he released his second film Bas Ek Pal with Urmila Matondkar, Sanjay Suri and Jimmy Shergill. He received a nomination for the Best Director Critic's Award at the Global Indian Film Awards for the film. It was not a financial success, only collecting 15-20 percent at the box office. His next film ‘Sorry Bhai!’ also failed to do well as it released the week of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Next was Onir's latest film, ‘I Am’ which consists of four short films exploring such themes as single motherhood, displacement, child abuse and same-sex relationships. ‘I Am’ won the National Award in two categories; Best Film and Best Lyrics.
Awards Received by Onir
Onir received the I-VIEW 2010s Engendered Award (New York) for Outstanding Contribution. Onir was awarded the 2008-2009 Triangle Media Group Honorary Award on 7th February 2010 and won Best Film awards at both the London Asian Film Festival and the River to River. Florence Indian Film Festival and IRDS film awards for Best director for social concern. Together with Sanjay Suri, Onir has started Anticlock Films, a production company that will concentrate on promoting young directors.
Personal Life of Onir
Onir has one younger brother Abhishek Dhar, a theoretical physicist at International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, TIFR Bangalore, adjunct faculty at Raman Research Institute and winner of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology. His sister Irene Dhar Malik is a film and television editor.
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