For the past 100 years or so, the glittery world of Indian cinema has left us completely besotted. Ever since the silver screen lit up back in 1913, we Indians haven’t stopped raving about it! It’s been our pride and prized possession. Generation after generation, year after year, Friday after Friday!
Bollywood did the impossible; it took entertainment from being a luxury for just a few and transformed it into a national past time. The strong hold it has on our minds and our hearts is inexplicable.
Everything about this industry has managed to create an aura of enchantment and mystique. We are obsessed with the actors, mesmerized by the actresses and bewitched by songs!
Every time a film hits the theatres people go gaga over the star cast, the sets, the songs, the story, but, what about the people behind this cinematic extravaganza? The faceless heroes who imagine, conceive and transform an idea into a full-fledged motion picture? What about the directors? The men and women who give body and soul to film, who play it a million times in their heads, scrutinizing, reworking, re-imagining each and every minute detail to make sure that the final product is nothing less than perfect!
Indian cinema has certainly evolved, it’s come a long way from just dancing around trees and getting drenched in the rain. There has been a significant shift in the tastes and preferences of the Indian audience. Today we see relatively more matured and experimental cinema. This feat has to be attributed to the directors who dared to take the road less travelled. The ones who weren’t only running after commercial success. The ones who dared to take an atypical take on Bollywood as we know it.
The following 6 directors have all carved a niche for themselves with their passion for film making with a difference! Though there are many others, we thought the following deserved special mention.
1. Anurag Kashyap
He is arguably the face of the new emerging Indian cinema. He ventured into the unknown and sought rather controversial topics. His films are edgy, realistic and effortlessly hard hitting. His first film Satya made people sit up and take notice of the new kid on the block. He went on to write history with movies like Dev D, Gulal, The Girl In The Yellow Boots, and more recently, the two-part crime thriller, Gangs Of Wasseypur. His movies are often bombarded by conservatives who think that his way of film making is a little too bold for the average Indian. However, he stuck his guns and went on to receive many accolades from the film fraternity, the audiences and critics alike.
2. Imtiaz Ali
Known for his eccentric personality, yet subtle nuanced storytelling, he created quite a wave with his rather phenomenal methods of filmmaking! Imtiaz is known for his perfectionist attitude. He started with Socha Na Tha which didn’t do so well at the box office. However, not one to give up easily he went on to make one of the most relatable Bollywood romances of all time, Jab We Met. It was appreciated by people of all age groups and is one of his most commercially successful films. It changed the way people looked at love stories. He then made Highway; which was another movie par excellence and Rockstar which was equally commendable. A film by Imtiaz is more often than not termed as a ‘hit’ even before it hits the theatres!
3. Dibakar Banerjee
One of the most sought after directors of today, he made his presence felt with offbeat films like Khosla ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky lucky Oye, Bombay Talkies and recently Detective Byomkesh Bakshi. Even though he started his career in advertising, he worked his way to the top of the ladder without any so-called Godfather. The culmination of hardwork and expertise is what has brought him forward. Known amongst his peers for being a workoholic, Banerjee has had quite an eventful journey in the industry.
4. Zoya Akhtar
Born to illustrious parents like Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani; it’s no surprise that Zoya is powerhouse of talent that she is. She is also the sister of actor Farhan Akhtar. However, these facts have nothing to with her direction and film making prowess, as Zoya has worked hard enough to create a reputation for herself, without the mention of these industry stalwarts. Her directorial debut was Luck by Chance, followed by Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which was widely acclaimed. It hit home. It made almost everyone who watched it, self introspect about the way the lead their lives. It also redefined road trips and friendships. Her most recent film, Dil Dhadakne Do, is the only Indian film to have been shot in 20 different countries!
5. Sai Paranjpe
She is the director of award-winning movies Sparsh, Katha, Chasme Buddoor, and Disha. She was easily the most influential female film makers of that time. She overcame the bias of being a woman and made her mark in a field that was dominated by men. The Government of India awarded Sai, the Padma Bhushan title in 2006 in recognition of her artistic talents. She is also the recipient of the National Award for Best Screenplay and the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. She was the one who didn’t shy away from delving into parallel cinema at a time when most people hadn’t even dreamt of it! Her sensitive and spectacular film making has etched itself into the annals of Indian film history.
6. Anusha Rizvi
She came as a surprise to most us. Her directorial debut is Peepli Live. The movie won the Best First Film award at the Durban film festival and the Gollapudi Srinivas Award. She isn’t the quintessential Bollywood director one would expect. Her film received rave reviews from both the audiences and the critics. She chose a rather sticky subject, where she unmasked the manic madness of the Indian media who run solely after TRP’s and viewership, scattering all morality to the winds. Even though the film was made on a shoe string budget, it did not seem to matter to her at all. The film went on to be screened at many National and International Film Festivals where she was felicitated amidst several industry stalwarts.
In a world where most people usually take tried and tested formulas to success, it is indeed heartening to see that these film makers are courageous enough to break the mould and follow their hearts, instead of the general user manual for success. These directors are undeterred by either failure or success, their only aim is to create art in its most sublime form, for as Polanski puts it, “Cinema should make you forget that you’re sitting in a theatre”.