If during the year 2017, the scarcity of new acting talent was scary, the abundance of directorial talent instantly lifted the spirit and made sore expectations soar. Yes, there is hope for Bollywood.
Around 28 new directors made their debut during the year that was. Here’s looking at the finest directorial talent that broke into the Hindi cinema in 2017:
* Avinash Das (“Anaarkali of Aarah”): An astonishingly energetic adrenaline-pumping raunchy and ravishing debut by a director who knows the Indian heartland by heart, this was original and staggering in its deep empathy with the grasroot.
* Shubhashish Bhutiani (“Mukti Bhawan”): For a 24-year-old director, understanding the dynamics of death and decoding the irony of mortality with such warmth, vigour and compassion, was not only rare, it was miraculous. Bhutiani made a marvel of a movie whose message on life and death splashed against our senses like the holy waters of the Ganga.
* Konkona Sen Sharma (“A Death In The Gunj”): Konkona is a very quiet actress. To no one’s surprise, she made her directorial debut with a thriller with an eerie stillness at its heart. Besides being a remarkably poised film, “A Death In The Gunj” also gave us incontrovertible proof of Vikram Massey’s proclivity to assume character traits until he disappears into the person he plays. Can’t wait to see what Konkona makes next.
* Sunaina Bhatnagar (“Dear Maya”): A lovely fragile and far from flamboyant feel-good film about follies of youth and the search for love. Thank you, Sunaina, for a film so steeped in old-world romanticism and for giving Manisha Koirala a chance to show us again that given a chance, she is incomparable.
* Rahul Dahiya (“G Kutta Se”): This Haryanvi-Hindi drama on honour killing simply gripped my guts. Powerful and unforgettable, this film’s unabashed approach to sexual violence was something we have never seen before. Go for it. But next time, could the director please find a better title?
* Ravi Udyawar (“Mom”): How many directors get a chance to direct the mighty Sridevi in their first film? And how many come out of the trial by fire unscathed? Ad maker Ravi Udyawar managed this familiar rape-vendetta saga with tremendous restrain, eliciting remarkable performances from all from Sridevi to Abhimanyu Singh.
* Shanker Raman (“Gurgaon”): Cinematographer-turned-director Shanker Raman carved a riveting piece of Shakespearean cinema on a business empire soaked in blood and greed. If you haven’t seen this film in theatres, do catch it on a smaller format.
* Ashwini Iyer Tiwari (“Bareilly Ki Barfi”): Now here is a female director who proved that the era of the Basu Chatterjee/ Hrishikesh Mukherjee comedies was not over. Ashwini’s film sparkled with chuckles. It was engaging in a way we had forgotten comedies can be.
* Milind Dhaimade (“Tu Hai Mera Sunday”): This ad maker hawked his wife’s jewellery mortgaged his home and sold the last shirt off his back to make this tender sweet bitter but illuminating film about life in the metropolis. Sure, life sucks. But then we get films about life that make it worth the pain.
* Suresh Triveni (“Tumhari Sulu”): The story of a rather clumsy housewife who constantly dreams of outdoing herself, told in a way that was fresh stimulating and revealing. Triveni is a talent to watch.
* Advait Chandan (“Secret Superstar”): Though there was something way too obvious about this story of a middle-class girl’s realization of her dreams and though Aamir Khan gave his career’s worst performance in this film, there was something supremely sincere and pure in Advait’s storytelling.
* Devashish Makhija (“Ajji”): A dark grotesque tale of a grandmother’s revenge for her little grandchild’s rape, this one needed a strong constitution to be watched. But then our country needs that. A strong constitution.