The Great Filmmakers of India

India is one of the largest producers of films in the world, with hundreds mainstream and regional films produced every year. But at the end of the day we only remember a handful. Most movies fizzle out at the box office failing to capture the audience attention, while a few of them go on to become not just box office successes but legends. So what makes a movie a box office success or a legend? Is it the script? The actors? The dialogues?  Well all of that… but more than anything it’s the director, as it’s the directors vision that is finally what we see on the big screen. It is the director who has to be able to interpret the story to it true meaning and get the actors to emote the same. 


Movies have always fascinated us, they have the power to transport us in to a different world and our experience of that world rests on the shoulders of the director. Ever since filmmaking started in India, we have seen many great artists who have created movies that are still remembered and will be remembered for ages to come. 


So when we talk about the great filmmakers of India, there is no one else that we can mention first but the late Satyajit Ray. Born in 1921, his first  film Pather Panchali was released in 1955 and even though regional cinema was not so popular in  India at the time, Pather Panchali went on to win several International awards, setting Ray at a world class director.  In an illustrious career spanning over three decades, Satyajit Ray did not only make movies, he wrote screenplays, music and even produced many films and short films.  Satyajit Ray passed away in the 1992. 


Another famous Bengali great that definitely makes this list is Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Though never a glamorous director, Hrishikesh Mukherjee carved a niche for himself in not creating large and glamorous films but films with warmth and simplicity. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, or Hrishida as he was fondly called by the film fraternity made his debut in 1957 with Musafir and went on to make many popular films like Anari, Anuradha Anupama and many others… but what is considered at his masterpiece is the 1971 Rajesh Khanna starrer Anand. The movie, which centered on Rajesh Khanna’s character Anand, a terminally ill patient who comes to “Bombai” to be treated and his wish to live a full life before he died, brings tears to our eye even today. 


Talking about tear jerkers, how can leave out Guru Dutt, a man often referred to as a man ahead of his time. The 1940s and 50s were the golden era of the filmmaking in India. Though known for making movies that mostly centered around the subjects of common man, he also made movies that crime thrillers or even light romantic comedies centered around womens’ rights. Though his movies were critically acclaimed he never saw box office success, became depressed and died at a very young age in the year 1964.  


Alternatively, Yash Chopra is considered to be one of the most suucessful filmmakers that India has ever seen. Though known for making poignant and soul toughing romantic films, his made his directorial debut with Dhool Ka Phool in the year 1959, a melodramatic movie about illegitimacy, which became a hit and is even popular today. Riding on the success Yash Chopra, directed many thrillers and romantic movies. Most notable being Daag, Kabhi Kabhi , Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge   and many more. 


In the last two decades India has seen a lot of directorial talent coming forth with many greats like Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj,  Farhan Akhtar, Tigmanshu Dhulla, Rajkumar Hirani and many more. 


Each of these directors have been able to create a space for themselves by creating amazing films in various genres. 


Generations, time, language, style of making a movie or expression might separate them all, one thing remains common with all of them, they all broke the rules. They all have an amazing capability to bring their characters out of the big screen and into our lives.  Whether it is the light hearted and yet a movie with a big heart Munna Bhai series by Rajkumar Hirani or it is the poingnant, heart breaking tale of a musician in Rockstar by Imtiaz Ali. 


Every movies directed and created by the “greats” has the power to reach out and move us emotionally in way that we remember for a long time. These movies don’t just become popular they become legends which you can watch anytime. 


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