Cinema, Hindi cinema in particular, forms an important part of life and society in India. We love the glitz, glamour, and everything else about tinsel town. But while the heroes, heroines, and even the villains garner our praise and admiration, the director who is behind it all often goes unacknowledged. Here are ten of the very best directors who helped showcase Bollywood and bring out its best –
- Raj Kapoor – “The greatest showman of Indian cinema”, Raj Kapoor certainly deserves a mention right on top of this list. Between the late 1940s and early 1980s, Raj Kapoor’s directorial ventures were all the rage across the country and were also greatly responsible for bringing Hindi cinema aka Bollywood its much deserved international attention. His well-known directorial ventures include Shree 420, Awaraa, Bobby, Mera Naam Joker, and Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
- Bimal Roy – Bimal Roy came to be known for his stark and realistic portrayal of life around him. Strong characters, powerful plots, and great music were his signature. His style is said to have been inspired by the neo-realistic films from Italy. The best that Roy had to offer came in the form of Parineeta, Do Bigha Zamin, Devdas, Madhumati, Sujata, Bandini, and others. Do Bigha Zamin won him the International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
- Hrishikesh Mukherjee –With a kitty of about 42 directorial ventures, Hrishikesh Mukherjee came to be known as the beloved director of the masses. Choosing idealism over glamour, middle class morals over extravagance and retaining the bohemian touch at the same time, Hrishi-da wooed the hearts of the middle class film goers. Anand, Guddi, Sanjh Aur Savera, bawarchi, Abhimaan, and Chupke Chupke were among his best loved flicks.
- Guru Dutt – Here comes the luminary among Bollywood directors – a man with sensibilities and ideas way ahead of his time – Guru Dutt. The master of nuances and the king of light and hadow, Dutt elevated his films to the highest level of art that we can imagine. Guru Dutt’s classic directorial ventures include Sailaab, Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, and Chaudhvin Ka Chand.
- Shyam Benegal – With a (Bollywood) directorial career spanning from the early 1970s to about 2010, Shyam Benegal is one of the greatest visionaries of Hindi cinema. He started a whole new genre of films that straddled mainstream films and documentaries – films that simply compelled the audience to look closely at the world and reflect on it. Some of his best-known films include Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda, Mammo, Sardari Begum, Zudeidaa, and Ankur (which made it to the Oscars).
- Yash Chopra – The sheer range of films directed by Yash Chopra is mindboggling. Starting from the Ashok Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Mala Sinha starrer Dhool Ka Phool in 1959 to SRK, Katrina, Anushka starrer Jab Tak Hai Jaan in 2012, Chopra bags the award for versatility. The best-known among his films are Dhool Ka Phool, Waqt, Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Deewar, Lamhe, Chandni, Darr, Dil To Pagal Hai, and Veer Zaara.
- Mahesh Bhatt – Bhatt dominated the 1980s and 1990s with his in-the-face brand of hyper realistic movies such as Arth, Saaransh, Naam, Daddy, Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi, Sadak, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Duplicate, Raaz, Jism, Kalyug, Hamari Adhuri Kahani, and others. His movies went from being downright art films to the complete commercial “masala” films and back exploring various genres.
- Shubhash Ghai – Subhash Ghai is probably one of the few directors who is seen in almost each one of his films (not unlike Hitchcock). Grandiose cinema but earthy tones are his signature. His movies are also known for their popular music. Karz, Hero, Meri Jung, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes, and Taal are among his best.
- Mani Ratnam – Here’s another Bollywood director who seems ahead of the age. Both revolutionary and influential, Mani Ratnam went on to change the very outlook of Indian cinema. His films are known to hold the audience’s attention and shatter any complacent notions they may hold about Hindi cinema. He made his way into Hindi films with a dubbed version of Nayakan (Tamil) called Dayavaan in the early 1980s. But it was much later that he fully explored a new demographic of audience with his multi-lingual films such as Roja, Bombay, Raavan, Dil Se, Saathiya, Yuva, and Guru.
- Ashutosh Gowariker – Now coming to a director who loves opulence on the silver screen and believes in larger-than-life cinema – Ashutosh Gowariker. The best of Gowariker list contains names such as Pehla Nasha, Baazi, Lagaan, Swades, Jodhaa Akbar, and Mohenjo Daro. We look forward to many more largescreen classics from Gowariker.