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Onir in 2006
Born (1969-04-30) 30 April 1969 (age 47)[1]
Thimphu, Bhutan
Residence Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Occupation Film director, film producer, film editor, screenwriter
Years active 2005–present

Onir[1] is an Indian film director, editor, screenwriter and producer. He is best known for his film My Brother…Nikhil, based on the life of Dominic d'Souza,[2] and one of the first mainstream Hindi films to deal with AIDS and same-sex relationships.

Life and career[edit]

He 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.[3] Earlier, Aparesh Dhar had resigned from his position as a school principal when his Nepalese students were removed and arrested (they were later found dead).[4] In Kolkata, Onir studied comparative literature and took a few film classes at Chitrabani film school.[5] 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. He 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 feature film.[6]

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.[5][7] 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.[8] 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 & Jury Audience choice Award at Montreal, image+nation Film Festival. And screened at 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.[9] His next film Sorry Bhai! also failed to do well as it released the week of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.[10]

Onir's latest film is I Am which consists of four short films exploring such themes as single motherhood, displacement, child abuse and same-sex relationships.[11] I Am won the National Award in two categories; Best Film and Best Lyrics. Winner of I-VIEW 2010s Engendered Award (New York) for Outstanding Contribution[12] Onir was awarded the 2008/9 Triangle Media Group Honorary Award on 7 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.[13][14][15][16] Together with Sanjay Suri he has started Anticlock Films, a production company that will concentrate on promoting young directors. Ashwini Malik's Kill Chhabra and Bikas Ranjan Mishra's Chauranga.[6][17] He recently completed his 5th directional film titled Shab (The Night), which is currently in post- production. And currently is starting on his 6th directional film titled Veda.

Personal life[edit]

He 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.[4][18] His sister Irene Dhar Malik is a film and television editor.[19] Onir is an atheist. He can speak Bengali, Russian, German and Tamil. His favourite film directors are Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Luis Buñuel and Andrei Tarkovsky[20] while he cites Shyam Benegal's Junoon as the reason he became a filmmaker.[21] He is also one of the few openly gay directors in Bollywood.[22]




  • 2005 My Brother... nikhil
  • 2006 Bas Ek Pal
  • 2011 I Am
  • 2016 Shab[26]



  • 2005 My Brother... Nikhil
  • 2008 Sorry Bhai!
  • 2011 I Am
  • 2014 Chauranga
  • 2015 Shab


  1. ^ a b "(ONIR) ANIRBAN DHAR DHAR". Indian Film and Television Directors' Association. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Ferrão, R. Benedito. "My Friend... Dominic". Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Anandan, S. (19 December 2010). "He holds a mirror up to Indian society.". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Deepak, Sunil (27 March 2011). "Interview with Onir at the River to River.He and his family shifted back to India around 1991 because of the political unrest in Bhutan. Florence Indian Film Festival". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "How Onir made Karan Johar cry!". Rediff. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Pereira, Priyanka (28 April 2010). "Seriously speaking". Indian Express. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Roy, Sandeep. "Ripples of Change in Indian Film". AlterNet. Pacific News Service. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Sengupta, Somoni (6 April 2005). "Gay-Themed Film Tests Sensibilities in India". New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  9. ^ "Here's a look at what the BO booed". CNN-IBN. 16 September 2006. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Oye Lucky! performs better than Sorry Bhai! amidst crisis". Businessofcinema.com. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "Onir's next ventures into issues of gay sex, child abuse". Indian Express. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  12. ^ National Award for I AM
  13. ^ "Onir's I AM awarded Best Film in London Asian Film festival". IBN Live. PTI. 4 April 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Rahul Wows Florence". The Times of India. 15 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "IRDS Awards: Vidya Balan wins best actress for THE DIRTY PICTURE – Yahoo!". My.entertainment.yahoo.com. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  16. ^ Kotwani, Hiren (22 June 2010). "Mira Nair to help Onir release I Am in US, Europe". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  17. ^ Dasgupta, Priyanka (8 October 2011). "We'll shoot in Jharkhand: Onir, Sanjay Suri". Times of India. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "hatnagar award for six from Bangalore". Deccan Herald. DH News Service. 26 September 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "Irene Dhar Malik". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  20. ^ "Every film has a message-Onir". One India.com. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "'I Pretend To Have Seen Rang De Basanti'". Tehelka. 23 May 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  22. ^ Kumar, Sunaina (2 April 2011). "I Am, India's first truly indie film, gets ready for the Friday test". Tehelka. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  23. ^ Manali Shah (5 August 2010). "Onir raises funds through Facebook". Hindustan Times. 
  24. ^ "Independent filmmakers are wiped out in India: Onir". NDTV. Press Trust of India. 27 November 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  25. ^ PTI (25 October 2015). "'Veda' is my presentation of 'Hamlet': Onir". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2016-07-24. 
  26. ^ PTI (1 January 2016). "Raveena Tandon will surprise everyone with 'Shab': Onir". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2016-07-24. 

External links[edit]