Director’s Choice – Best and Worst Bollywood Directors


Unlike  Bollywood  stars, who find it relatively easy to resurge back to fame after five flops in a row, things are no cozy for directors. Ram Gopal Verma, the maverick director whose film Satya (the only film to get a 5 Star rating in Times of India) epitomized as a work of class and genius has disappointed  Bollywood  with ‘Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag.’ The movie which was supposed to be a tribute to the classic superhit Sholay ended up as an insulting parody, and that too with dollops of boredom.

The Mumbai Mirror,a newspaper from Times Group, India, has reportedly stated that it takes three flops in a row for  Bollywood  directors to bite dust. If you can make turn around and make a good commercially successful movie after the first couple of disappointments, you may still be in the reckoning. If you still don’t mend your ways, you are as good as forgotten unless you enjoy some goodwill in the industry. As we all know,  Bollywood  has a short attention span. Where is Joy Augustine, the maker of Tere Mere Sapne…He along with his hero Chandrachur Singh seem to have disappeared in oblivion.

There are a lot of examples to understand how directors direct to their doom. Ramesh Sippy who has given  Bollywood’s  biggest hit Sholay and television’s biggest success Buniyaad, had a merry round of hits with Shaan, Shakti and Saagar. However after Akayla and a couple of forgettable films, Sippy was nowhere in the picture(no pun intended). Subash Ghai, a pompous director consistently gave hits in the form of Karz, Vidhaata, Meri Jung, Ram Lakhan, Khalnayak, Pardes, Taal and then…the curtain fell on him. Subash Ghai faced double whammy with Yaadein and Kisna. Kisna in fact did not just seal the fate of Subash Ghai but almost finished Vivek Oberoi’s career until Shoot out at Lokhandwala resurrected him three years later in 2007.

Raj Kumar Santoshi gave us Ghayal, Damini, Andaz-Apna Apna(the biggest video hit) but failed with a string of flops-China Gate, Lajja, The Legend of Bhagat Singh and Family(the biggest dud in his repertoire). There was Khakee which had flashes of directorial brilliance but overall his report card is questionable. Dharmesh Dharshan tasted luck with Raja Hindustani, but then steadily went downhill with flops like Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya, Bewaffa, Aap Ki Khatir. He still continues to give flops with the latest dud -Shakalaka Boom Boom.

Let us now take the war-hero J.P. Dutta, who directed the incredible movie Border. JP Dutta who was the toast of actors during the shooting of LOC, found himself lonely after Refugee and LOC Kargil bombed. Whatever little faith the audience and actors had in him diminished, after he delivered the mindless Umrao Jaan.

Sooraj Barjatya, the king of clean romance gifted us with the invaluable Maine Pyar Kiya. He later followed it up with the biggest success in  Bollywood  Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, the milestone movie which inspired many other movies. However his formula and experiments went all wrong thereafter. His Hum Saath Saath was too traditional for people to digest. He changed gear and began to introduce glamour and dare-bare display of female skin in Main Prem ki Diwani hoon. This too bombed badly because Sooraj was no Ram Gopal Verma or for that matter Feroz Khan, who could showcase female sensuality very well. Sooraj Bajatya then went back to his old style of film-making and made a squeaky clean romance Vivah. The movie was a saving grace for Barjatyas as it did well in UP and Bihar. If this film had bombed too, people would have asked Sooraj:Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

Well, what about directors who are still in the top bracket but somewhat in the danger of being either stereotyped ? Let us look into them one by one:

1. Kunal Kohli: He directed Mujhse Dosti Karogey, showed promise but the film failed to deliver. Kunal showed his mettle in Hum Tum. The film had a sound script, peppy music, fabulous performance and amazing direction. Kunal Kohli had to reaffirm the success which he did with Fanaa.

2. Farhan Akthar: One of the finest directors of  Bollywood , Farhan scored high with Dil Chahta Hai. He then cheated the audience with an insipid Lakshya. Sense prevailed in Farhan as he bounced back again successfully with the fast-paced and zany DON, which is touted as the best remake in recent times.

3. Madhur Bhandarkar: A personal favorite, Madhur Bhandarkar has the Sidney Sheldon approach for directing movies. His movies have an analogy of a page-turner. Madhur Bhandarkar’s movies including Chandni Bar, Satta, Page 3, Corporate were all box-office success although Satta didn’t do that well. However Traffic Signal barely managed to be a commission earner. Of course, Madhur Bhandarkar is still in the race as he explores less sought out sections of the society like beggars, models and page 3 celebrities for his films. However his direction and the shock value which he puts in his movies have become predictable and it remains to be seen how far he can go…

4. Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra: After directing the forgotten Aks, Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra quietly worked on his next venture Rang De Basanti, which is the ‘sholay’ of today’s generation.

5. Abbas-Mustan-The directorial duo Abbas Mustan is the most inconsistent lot when it comes to direction. Like their movies, these directors are unpredictable. For every Baazigar, they have a super-flop 36 China Town and Naqaab. Though overall,their movies are watchable, they are so only when they work their forte-thrillers. Family dramas and comedy is never their cup of tea. China Town and Naqaab were major disappointments, though one did feel pity for Naqaab which had a lot of shock-value dumped in the last ten minutes of the movie.

6. Karan Johar-Karan Johar directed two super-hits Kuch Kuch Hota Hain and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gam. Though he has a backing of his best friend and trump card, Shahrukh Khan, his movie Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna was below expectation, partly due to the slow pace and partly due to the bold and unconventional theme which did not go well with the society. Let us see how he manages to pull his next.

The best  Bollywood  director with a consistent track record:

5. Anurag Basu: He has directed some of the best movies of late with Murder, Gangster and Metro. Anurag’s movies have good performances, a decent story line, and of course wonderful music.

4.. Raj Kumar Hirani: The director of the Munna Bhai series looks promising with every movie he makes. It is surprising how he can generate huge hits in this age of special effects and Switzerland locales with simple but heart-warming stories.

3. . Ashutosh Gowariker: After getting the hugely successful ‘Lagaan’ and the brilliant Swades, Ashutosh is getting the cream of stars in his most illustrious Akbar Jodha.

2. Sanjay Leela Bhansali-His Khamoshi flopped but till date Khamoshi continues to be a beautiful film revered by many. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the most sought-after director in  Bollywood  with an amazing, almost envious lot of films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, the superhit Devdas, and the truly cinematic Black. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies are always backed by sufficient research and detail. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya is the most awaited film of 2007.

1. Rakesh Roshan and Nagesh Kukunoor: Rakesh Roshan has a fabulous track record of quietly giving hits after hits till dogs come home. Along with his son Hrithik Roshan, he has delivered a thumping hat-trick with Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish. If you look at all

his superhit movies, Rakesh Roshan has just one theme in all of them-resurrection. In the first half, the hero is always shown as coy, vulnerable or simple. The second half shows the smarter, bolder side of him-which the actor is gifted with thanks to circumstances(Krrish), co-incidence(Kaho Na Pyaar Hai), reincarnation(Karan Arjun) or an external power(Jadoo ,Koi Mil Gaya). Rakesh Roshan decorates a typical  Bollywood  formula movie with his unique style and makes sure it is packaged well…Result-unquestionable success in the box-office. Now in his next, we have a superhero Hrithik and a super-villain Hrithik pitted against each other.

Nagesh Kukunoor, on the other hand, is a low profile director who drifts from the usual styles of making films. His films are contemporary, entertaining, yet thought provoking. His Hyderabad Blues made on a shoe string budget, the highly recommended Iqbal and the magical Dor are examples of his directoral flamboyance.

All the above directors and many more not included in the list should note one thing-to make contemporary , different movies and move with times instead of sticking in the rut and coming up with lousy ‘what the heck is that’ movies like Yaadein, Umrao Jaan, Main Prem Ki Diwaani Hoon and Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag. After a couple of flops, the director should try to change his formula or do a movie which is entertaining and contemporary..Rang De Basanti, Dhoom and Chak De would be some examples.

Source by Arunraj V.S.

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