Debut Directors’ Cut

Meet the new crop of filmmakers who are redefining the rules of the game
Debut Directors’ Cut
Abhishek Varman

Priyanka Chopra

Read more about Priyanka Chopra

They are young, cool and brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. What they lack in big budgets, they make up in concepts and unique treatment. And this, in turn, has won them the support of visionary production houses and filmmakers who help translate their ideas onto celluloid. We applaud the new-age directors who are fast becoming heroes in their own right in Bollywood.

Abhishek Varman
Claim to fame: 2 States
A new director and relatively new actors but a script that's an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's well-known novel 2 States.... Abhishek Varman had quite a task on his hand to turn a best-seller into a screen adaptation but he took on the challenge and passed with flying colours. Not only did he extract fabulous performances from his leads Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor, he also made an entertaining film that yielded great results at the box-office. His eye for detailing and his fresh approach to story-telling contributed greatly to the success of the film. Hailing from the family of R Varman, the famous art director, Abhishek started his career as assistant director to Ashutosh Gowariker and Karan Johar in films like Jodhaa Akbar and My Name Is Khan, which prepared him to take the next big step – direction. He managed to get the support of two huge producers – Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala for his first film. Now, how many debut directors can boast of that?


Shakun Batra
 
Claim to fame: Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu
A chocolate-faced Imran Khan, the gorgeous Kareena Kapoor-Khan, Las Vegas setting, good music and candy floss look – Shakun Batra’s debut film seemed like a typical rom com. But Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu was anything but typical. The unexpected twist in the end where Imran and Kareena’s characters do NOT end up as a couple in love gave the film a unique maturity that was lapped up by the audience and the critics. Shakun had arrived in T’town.
Shakun was recently in the news for the spoof video he directed on Alia Bhatt called, Alia Bhatt: Genius of the Year which went viral in a big way. He had also made a short film earlier in 2012, along with Karan Johar, titled Strangers in the Night. He is currently working on his next film on more mature adult relationships.

Sajid Nadiadwala 
Claim to fame: Kick
Sajid Nadiadwala is known for his opulent productions so there were huge expectations from him when he decided to turn director with Kick starring Salman Khan. The pressure was immense but Sajid delivered and how! Kick has now become Salman Khan’s biggest hit. Like most Salman films, Kick is not a critic’s delight but surprisingly it wasn’t as badly criticised as some of his other films. Interestingly, it was Salman himself who originally coaxed Sajid into directing a film. However, after its success, Sajid has become more ambitious. “I want 2014 to be the weakest year of my life. There should be a slew of much bigger hits after this one,” he recently said. Looks like Mr Nadiadwala has some big plans ahead!



Karan Malhotra, Agneepath

Claim to fame: 2 States
Karan Johar surely has an eye for talent. Remaking Agneepath, the classic film produced by his dad Yash Johar was as an emotional decision for him. But instead of turning to a veteran director for the project, he placed the onus on the shoulders of a young filmmaker, Karan Malhotra who had assisted him as well as Rajkumar Santoshi, Farah Khan and Ashutosh Gowariker in the past. What made Agneepath such a huge success was the fact that he took a new approach to an old story, fleshing out iconic characters in a new light and introducing new ones. The result: a brand new film with a new look that retained the core of the original. Industry insiders say Karan Johar thought that Karan Malhotra was the right choice as the latter had an “inherent sense of suppressed anger” that needed a medium to come out. Agneepath turned out to be the perfect platform. Now Karan is getting two other projects – Shuddhi and an adaptation of Hollywood film Brothers.


Rajesh Mapuskar 

Claim to fame: Ferrari Ki Sawaari
Before assisting Rajkumar Hirani on his films Rajesh Mapuskar worked as an assistant director in Marathi shows. Later, he became an assistant director with films like Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 Idiots. Rajesh, who worked closely with Vidhu Vinod Chopra on his script for Ferrari Ki Sawaari, took almost eight years to give shape to the film. When it released, the film struck a chord with critics and masses who were charmed by the simplicity of the characters played brilliantly by Sharman Joshi and Boman Irani. Reportedly, Rajesh is now planning to direct a musical film.


Vinil Mathew 

Claim to fame: Hasee Toh Phasee
Ad filmmaker turned director Vinil Mathew’s experience in the ad world helped him immensely while directing Hasee Toh Phasee. His out-of-the-box thinking and new-age sensibilities were evident in the way he etched out Parineeti Chopra’s whimsical character. Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap (co-producers of Hasee….) promoted Vinil immensely as both of them had enough faith in his talent. Vinil once claimed, “Filmmakers are storytellers and every filmmaker wants to make a long format film. You need legitimacy as a director, which you only get from a two-hour-long feature-length film that does not come with the baggage of demands from a client or an agency.”


Mrighdeep Singh Lamba 

Claim to fame: Fukrey
It takes a maverick director to make a maverick youth film. Mrighdeep Singh Lamba did just that. Mrighdeep’s vision of comedy came as a refreshing change to the existing comic films. The script had interesting characters including a quirky female don played brilliantly by Richa Chadda. Fukrey was so highly appreciated that even Shah Rukh Khan couldn’t stop gushing about it. The superstar said on Twitter, “Mrigh, way to go. Transported me back to Delhi days. Varun (Sharma), Pulkit (Samrat), Manjot (Singh), Ali (Fazal), Pankaj (Tripathi), Richa (Chadda) and all of Fukrey’ thanks.” Along with SRK, even Big B appreciated the film. Mrighdeep is currently looking over two or three scripts to display his magic on the silver screen once again.


Omung Kumar 

Claim to fame: Mary Kom
Omung Kumar Bhandula first came into the limelight as a television host before he took to art direction. This helped Omung get ready for his big screen debut. Sanjay Leela Bhansali placed faith in him to direct a dream project – the biopic of boxing legend Mary Kom. The movie was questioned even before its release by critics who doubted Priyanka Chopra’s ability to portray the Manipuri boxer and Omung’s ability to do justice to such a subject. However Omung proved the naysayers wrong. Though there were flaws in the film, overall his directorial skills were praised. What’s more he managed to get a fantastic performance out of Priyanka too. The good box office reception to the film proves that Omung is here for the long run.

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