With Indian cinema completing 100 years, we thought it would be the right time to talk about some of the top directors who have made an outstanding contribution to Indian cinema.
And whenever such list comes out, there are many who are shocked/surprised and ask why certain names have been omitted or have been included.
Though its impossible to include all the names, we have included those whose movies still continue to be shown on television / cables (Z classics, and so on).
So even though Satyajit Ray & V Shantaram are the pioneers of Indian cinema, we have not included their names, as its unlikely that many have seen their movies.
Here comes the list of the top 10 Bollywood directors:
I guess, almost everybody expects this name to be there at the top. Known as the Showman of Bollywood, Raj Kapoor belonged to the first family of Hindi cinema. He won all the major awards and launched several actresses that went on to become established names.
Besides a director, Raj Kapoor was an actor as well as a producer, his body of work is exemplary and he has also made many films. His popularity extends to countries like Turkey, Russia, and more countries. Truly a Showman!
Hrishikesh Mukherjee (fondly called Hrishi-da) continues to inspire film makers even today. Our evergreen superstars, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bacchan, have worked in several of his movies and in a different avatar from what they are popularly known for.
Films like Satyakam, Chupke Chupke, Anupama, Anand, Abhimaan, Guddi, Gol Maal, Aashirwad, Bawarchi, and Namak Haraam enthralled masses while solidly establishing the stars. His films were not only entertaining, they made you believe that goodness exists in tour society.
Bimal Roy had a flair to blend art and cinema in a realistic way, with most of his movies having strong content, backed with good music and powerful acting performances. Madhumati, Devdas (older) & Do Bigha Zamin were some of his most popular movies, though he has made many more films.
He won awards nationally and internationally and his highly acclaimed Do Bigha Zamin won the prestigious International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Considered to be a man ahead of his times, Guru Dutt is often credited with ushering in the golden era of Hindi cinema. His work includes classics like Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and Chaudhvin Ka Chand.
Besides being a director, Guru Dutt was also an actor, choreographer and producer. Guru Dutt was voted as one of the top 25 Asian actors of all time by CNN in 2010.
If the 70s belonged to the Big B, here’s was another director who made some of his best movies at that time. Manmohan Desai was a visionary whose family oriented films stirred audiences with its emotional masala, and all the twists & turns. His best works include Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb and Dharam Veer.
Most of his movies were with Amitabh Bachchan — Coolie, Mard, Suhaag and Amar Akbar Anthony. He was also popular with other actors like Jeetendra, Shashi Kapoor and Shatrughan Sinha.
Yash Chopra’s known for making romantic movies, though Deewar continues to be one of his most popular non-romantic film. Chandni, Silsila, Deewar, Darr, Veer Zaara and Jab Tak Hain Jaan (his last movie) are some of the movies that he’s made, and was rightly coined the king of romance for his penchant for making love stories.
His story is legendary as was his film making. With a humble beginning, he went on to rule the silver screen. His films delved into human relationships and although he faced a set back in his career at one point, he never gave up on his love for film making.
Most of Shyam Benegal’s movies were made during the time where Indian cinemas was categorized as “Commercial Films” & “Art Films”, most of his movies belonged to the latter.
His films were hard hitting and he has the flair to bring out the best in his actors. Noted for films like Ankur, Nishant, Manthan, Bhumika and Dev, Benegal has been intrepid, daring to fiddle with themes that flouted conventional forms of thinking. He’s also responsible for blurring the line between commercial and parallel cinema. He is certainly one of the finest film makers of the century.
At one point of time, Mani Ratnam was known as one of the best directors in our country, however lately he has slowed down a bit due to health reasons. He is one of those few film personalities from the South who’s popular and highly acclaimed in Bollywood as well, with his hard hitting films like Roja, Bombay, Dil Se and Guru.
He’s an international star who has been recognized for his contribution to Indian cinema and he’s also the recipient of several awards such as Padma Shri, besides National Film Awards and Filmfare Awards.
Though most of Shankar’s movies have been made in the south and he’s a phenomenon down south, he’s definitely among the most talented directors in India.
His recent movie “Robot” was a huge success both in Bollywood as well as down south. His movies are usually made on a big budget and feature some of the top stars of our country (including AR Rahman).
Rajkumar Hirani has emerged as one of the most promising directors of Hindi cinema. “3 Idiots” broke all records at the box office and is the highest grossing Hindi film ever. Prior to that, Hirani created hysteria with the Munna Bhai series (Munna Bhai M.B.B.S and Lage Raho Munna Bhai) which were feel good films that drew audiences in large numbers. “Pee Kay” will be his next directorial.
Bollywood Directors Talk About their Favorite Classic Movies
Every artist has an inspiration, a muse. Some creative pursuits begin with that single inspiration that goes on to make famous artists out of people. Bollywood similarly has seen a lot of good work lately. But not all directors are born with the need to make a movie. Some were stung or inspired to make movies. Let us look at the movies that inspired our breed of Bollywood directors to make such brilliant movies themselves.
Films, like cricket, is one topic on which everybody has a view (sort of a critique).
We all have our favorite old classic movies that we watch once in a while on television, or makes us nostalgic when we bump into one of those classic scenes online.
But remember, even these directors were at one time, just fans of movies, dreaming that they will make a movie some day. Like us, they all like the popular classic comedy movies (made by Bengali directors) which you could watch with your family (those classic family movies made by Hrishikesh Mukherjee & Basu Chatterjee).
Some of these directors are also big fans of classic western movies (our own Feroz Khan was inspired by many of those). Then there are those classic horror movies (Hollywood ones of-course) which these directors like, though they will admit that they don’t have the gall to watch those movies alone.
However, here these directors reveal some of their favorite classic movies, which inspired them to be better filmmakers and to better their craft.
- There’s no big director than Raju Hirani today. And one of the finest classics made in Indian cinema is the movie ‘Anand’. Even today, the movie has many fans swooning over its quality of film-making. One fan among the many is director Raju Hirani for whom the movie was a great influence. Infact, so deep is the impact of the movie on Raju Hirani that he keeps going back to the screenplay book of Anand every now and then. This screenplay book was gifted to Raju Hirani by the director of Anand, Shri. Hrishikesh Mukherjee himself.
- Director Farah Khan is the only successful female director in Bollywood (as of now), who gets to work with the likes of SRK. She was inspired by Rahul Rawail’s movie, Arjun (among Sunny Deol’s finest films). She in fact offered to assist Rahul Rawail after watching the movie to learn about film-making.
- There probably is no bigger movie than Sholay in Indian cinema and director Rohit Shetty credits it for changing his life and perspective about cinema. He is of the opinion that its edit techniques and screenplay are still the best and way ahead of its time.
- Another powerful Producer & Director Karan Johar loves to make movies that are all about celebrations and traditions, so it comes as no wonder that he finds ‘Hum Apke Hai Kaun’ to be very inspiring.
- Almost everyone will agree that director Anurag Kashyap’s movies are different; its interesting to know that the movie Anurag loves is ‘Bicycle Thieves’ by Vittorio De Sica. In his own words, the movie motivated him to believe in his kind of cinema.
- Talented director Imtiaz Ali credits Shyam Benagal movie Junoon to be his inspiration. Imtiaz believes that Junoon is a movie which truly depicted the true Muslim culture in a way that has never been shown before. The movie also has famous qwwalis from Amir Khushro which along with the beautiful language used in the movie, has moved Imtiaz and left a lasting impression on him.
- Director Zoya Akhtar watched Salaam Bombay when she was 15 and it apparently opened her mind to cinema and inspired her to move towards directing movies. According to her what appealed most was the balance between a documentary style of narration and drama in the movie which she thought was brilliant.
- The movie, ‘About the battle of Algiers’ moved critically acclaimed director Mira Nair to such an extent that she wished she had directed it herself. The struggles of characters in the movie is what inspired Mira Nair in a huge way.
- Rakesh Roshan is a legend in himself but which movie inspires him, you ask? It is none other than a movie by another legend, Raj Kapoor’s Shri 420. Rakesh Roshan often watches the movie for some inspiration. He calls it a masterpiece and thinks it is technically superior to many of the movies made today.
- Madhur Bhandarkar was struck by the movie ‘Guide’. The technical aspects of the movie, the lighting, camera, performances moved him to such an extent that it changed his perception about cinema.
- According to director Soojit Sicar, if you have not seen Ray’s films, you haven’t seen the moon. He was deeply influenced by Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali and the Apu Tirology which he apparently has seen innumerable times.
- Director Sanjay Gupta loves the movie Nayakan, starring Kamal Hassan. He watches the movie often and feels it is still fresh and new till date.
- Movie Casablanca, a love story in the backdrop of world war is a movie that inspired director Anurag Basu to turn to direction as a career.
- For director Amol Gupte, the movie Meghe Dhaka Tara was a revelation. He finds the movie beautiful and it moves him to tears every time he watches it.
- For filmmaker, Dibakar Banerjee, Martin Scorsese movie, Raging Bull was a game changer. According to Dibakar, the movie was kind of a lesson for the likes of him who have no formal education in filmmaking.
- For director Vikramaditya Motwane, the one movie that deeply influenced him was the war film, Underground. What deeply struck Motwane was that despite being a gripping war movie, it was also filled with comedy and laughter moments.
- Director Shriram Raghavan’s Badlapur may probably be the only director to have unabashedly admitted to have watched The Shawshank Redemption buying a pirated cd. According to the director, he found a spiritual connect with the movie and it gave him strength and hope to pursue his dream of directing.
- Tigmanshu Dhulia is famous for both his direction and acting. The raw and rustic appeal in his movies has been widely appreciated by the audiences. However, his inspiration comes from yet another rustic movie, i.e. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. The movie apparently gave him the sense of freedom. He also claims to have fallen in love with the outlaws with this movie and keeps revisiting it for its craft.
- Dil Chahta Hai was a break away movie and found many especially the youth relating to it. Director Ayaan Mukherji too is one amongst the many who found this film inspiring giving him hope for modern writing.
- Another Satyajit Ray fan is director Sujoy Ghosh. Satyajit Ray’s Aparojito is Sujoy Ghosh’s inspiration and he feels it surprises him every time he watches it.