December 30, 2009

They Kept Their Promise

Since 2001, numerous first-time filmmakers have arrived on the Hindi Film scene. The list is incredibly huge and includes names ranging from Farah Khan, who gave two back-to-back blockbusters but essentially forgettable movies, to Rahul Dholakia, who after a disastrous debut redeemed himself with the National Award winning Parzania (though not a Hindi film), to the likes of Abbas Tyrewala and Neeraj Pandey, who have just made a successful debut. We saw Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgan and Nandita Das turning directors. We saw people like Nikhil Advani, Shaad Ali and Rakeysh Mehra who impressed in one film and disappointed in others. But there are some filmmakers who arrived with a promise and fulfilled that through their subsequent works. Here is a discussion on those who kept their promise.

The first name that made it big as early as in 2001 is Farhan Akhtar. His Dil Chahta Hai can easily be considered as one of the very best films of Hindi cinema. Although with Lakshya and Don, he could not really recreate that magic, but we also know that films like DCH are not made very often. He later indulged in production and acting and singing and hosting TV shows, but we all know that he has the talent and the temperament to give us another great film as a director.

Imtiaz Ali has established himself as arguably the best teller of love stories of the times. My personal favourite remains his first, Socha Na Tha. But going by the commercial success that his later films – Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal achieved, he is currently one of the most loved writer-directors.

Shimit Amin is perhaps the most versatile director of today. He has changed genres like none other, from the dark and gritty Ab Tak Chhappan to the popular and slick sports flick Chak De India to the subtle Rocket Singh. The last film has generated a mixed reaction and I invite debate by including his name in this list. But I think, he has kept his promise.

If there is one filmmaker who has won hearts across the country and met with the most incredible financial and critical success, it is Rajkumar Hirani. He has a style of his own, and all his films – the Munnabhai series and 3 Idiots, have been extremely entertaining, enlightening and warm. Being hailed as the Hrishikesh Mukherjee of today is an extremely prestigious achievement. If he makes just 4-5 more films like these, he will ensure his name as one of the legends of Hindi Film history.

But the man who has surprised us all with his rise from the composer of Chaddhi Pahan Ke Phool Khila Hai to a master storyteller, and whom I consider the most talented man in the film industry today is Vishal Bhardwaj. He writes, directs, composes music and sings. He makes films as innocent and heart-warming as Makdee and The Blue Umbrella, and has the courage to adapt Shakespeare in the form of dark, psychological dramas called Omkara and Maqbool, the latter being a cinematic masterpiece of our generation. And then he defies his style with the commercially successful Kaminey. After the decline of Ashutosh Gowariker, Vishal is now my favourite Hindi film director.

There are two more names that I am certain would make into this list by next year. Dibakar Banerjee (Khosla Ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye) and Sriram Raghvan (Ek Hasina Thi and Johnny Gaddar) have had a great start to their film careers. They both have shown extreme maturity and unique personal style in telling their stories and I hope with their next films, Love Sex aur Dhokha and Agent Vinod, respectively, we will have two more names in the list of the five above.

One name that I have not included in the list is that of the gutsiest filmmaker of today – Anurag Kashyap. I have two reasons for that. One, his films – No Smoking, Hanuman Returns, Dev. D and Gulaal have been inconsistent, and have generated extremely varied opinions. And two, his films still give the feeling of the excitement a bright kid has on getting access to his medium and none could match the maturity he exhibited in his first release –Black Friday. He still remains a huge hope and the biggest promise, and he still has to fulfill what we, his fans more than his critics, expect from him.

P.S. Please remind me if I have missed something. I have considered filmmakers who arrived in 2001 or later and who have given at least three films in this period without disappointing in any of them.


  1. you have forgotten chandan arora, director of main madhuri dixit banna chahti hoon, main meri patni aur woh and striker. he has a style of his own and can portray reality with entertainment with equal courage and conviction. he must be included in the list.

  2. This post was written before the release of Striker. And I had a cut-off of three or more good films.

    Also, I have not watched Striker yet. But I admire Chandan Arora a lot, and look forward to his movies.