There was a point of time when there were few production houses and even fewer directors. There was a monopoly of sorts in the Hindi film industry with the same families having a fair share in the movies. But as the audiences' tastes developed, and the landscape of the market changed, so did the content and the style of filmmaking. New filmmakers started making a mark with new and unheard stories, and as a result struck the right chord with the audiences. They have new tales to tell, they have different takes on issues, and their treatment of ideas is something we've never seen before in our movies.
These are some of the filmmakers who have time and again served us with something new, and judging by their content, are surely here to stay:
1. SHAKUN BATRA
This man is the genius behind the critically acclaimed and unanimously loved movie Kapoor and Sons. After being an assistant director on movies like Rock On and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Batra went on to make his first feature film Ek Main aur Ek tu which released in 2011. Although it did not do well on the box office and received mostly mixed reviews, it found a niche audience which mostly comprised of the urban crowd. The ending of this movie was unusual as per the Bollywood standards, and Shakun was praised for the same. His movies deal with complex relationships and complicated people. His next feature Kapoor and Sons was a defining movie for his career, and is one of the best movies to come out of Bollywood in a few years. Taking a lot of inspiration from the work of Woody Allen, Batra’s style of filmmaking revolves around conversations and events as well characters which feel real. Remember Pappu from Jaane tu ya jaane na? I don’t know about dance, but he can surely make movies saalaa.
2. VIKRAMADITYA MOTWANE
The audiences connected with his world of cinema instantly after he gave them a gem like Udaan. It was a story coming of age tale, with a layered plotline and nuanced performances. With no big stars, no flashy songs, or melodrama, this story traveled places and put Motwane on the map. He then went on to direct what I believe is one of the most underrated movies of our times, Lootera. It was critically acclaimed but unfortunately did not work on the box office. It was a mature love story with impeccable music and amazing cinematography. He gave us a Ranveer Singh we never knew existed. The film was well aware and just on point. His next was a survival movie Trapped which real took his storytelling game to another level. The audiences really got invested in the story and also got a reinvented Rajkumar Rao as a bonus. His latest Bhavesh Joshi: Superhero was the tale of a vigilante and a really interesting experiment from the director’s end. Although it failed to deliver on the box office, it has found an audience for itself after releasing on Netflix a few months back. Motwane also directed and developed Sacred Games which released on Netflix earlier this year. It was the first Netflix original series from India, and it surely has changed the landscape for the digital content in the country.
3. ZOYA AKHTAR
When you watch her movies, you can actually see how passionate she is about her craft. Bred and raised in B-town, Zoya assisted directors like Mira Nair and Dev Benegal before turning to writing-direction. Her first feature Luck by Chance was ironically based on the Hindi film industry itself. Although the critics showered it with immense love, it failed to deliver on the box office. Over time though, it has received a cult status amongst the youth. One of her more commercial films Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was very well received and loved by the audiences. With road trip at its core and breathtaking shots of Spain, ZNMD gave all of us major wanderlust vibes. Zoya showcased her versatility as a filmmaker with Bombay talkies and Lust stories in which she directed 2 short stories. She has a vision for her stories, and knows how they are to be dealt with. Zoya’s nuanced portrayal of characters brings alive problems the youth faces, especially those with relationships.
If this is the product of nepotism, we’re not complaining.
4. ASHWINI IYER TIWARI
After working in advertising for a couple of years, Iyer made her first feature Nil Battey Sannata in 2015, and thank god for that. She bought a certain form of newness in the form of her craft and gave the audience the kind of content they deserved. Nil Battey Sannata portrayed the relationship between a mother and her daughter with much ease. The film's theme is a person's right to dream and change their lives, irrespective of social status. After that, she went on to direct the blockbuster and out and out entertainer Bareilly Ki Barfi. The story was inspired by the French novel, The Ingredients of Love. Iyer managed to bring out some outstanding performances from her cast, and created a world we’ve all experienced. She really is sure of what she wants, and her movies are proof of that. She’s really one of those rare filmmakers who capture the essence of small towns in India, and understand the soul of the country.
Fun fact: Her husband is Nitesh Tiwari (of Dangal fame). We surely need more power couples like these.
5. ABHISHEK CHAUBEY
A prodigy of the legendary filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj, Chaubey has assisted on movies like Maqbool and Omkara. He’s learnt filmmaking from one of the greatest in the business, and the same can be observed from his craft. His first feature was Ishqiya which broke all the norms of the typical Bollywood movie. It also won him praises, and set a place for him in the industry. The sequel to his first film, released a couple of years later, and was unanimously loved by the critics and was packed with powerful performances. Chaubey is known for his realistic treatment of stories and his raw form of storytelling. He’s also a risk taker, and aware of his limitations. His next, was the controversial flick Udta Punjab which dealt with the drug issue amongst the youth in the state of Punjab, India. The movie was bold and at the same time really disturbing. It was over the critics as well as the audience.
Thank you for entertaining us. Thank you for giving us compelling characters. Thank you for Cinema.
By Rohan Chaturvedi