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Comeback Kids

There are a handful of senior directors who are making a comeback after many years. Are they still relevant or can a veteran filmmaker reinvent himself?

Directors are the backbone of any film and, sometimes, a movie sells on the back of a director’s brand. In fact, Hollywood often cashes in on the saleability of award-winning directors such as James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. This trend has been a part of Indian cinema too, where filmmakers like Sooraj Barjatya, Shekhar Kapur, David Dhawan, Subhash Ghai and Ramesh Sippy are trademarks of trust for the audience.

But what happens when these directors take a sabbatical and return to cinema after a long break? Does the audience still have high regard for their films? Or does the sabbatical erode the credibility of their craft on the assumption that these filmmakers have failed to keep up with the ever-evolving tastes of the new gen?

Sooraj Barjatya is wielding the megaphone after nine years with Fox Star Studio’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. His last release was Vivaah, featuring Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao way back in 2006. The maverick director, who has delivered hits like Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hai Koun and Hum Saath Saath Hain with his favourite star Salman Khan, will be back to entertain the audience with Khan and Sonam Kapoor at the end of 2015.

Parallel cinema filmmaker Muzaffar Ali, known for films like Umrao Jaan, is shooting Jaanisar featuring newbies Pernia Qureshi and Imran Abbas Naqvi. He will be directing a feature film after decades.

Veteran director Ramesh Sippy, whose cult classic Sholay is etched in the minds of every movie-goer, last directed his Shah Rukh Khan-Raveena Tandon starrer Zamaana Deewana in 1995. He is now back with Shimla Mirch, a romcom featuring Hema Malini, Rajkummar Rao and Rakul Preet Singh, after a whopping 19 years.

Another acclaimed director, Shekhar Kapur, called the shots on the sets of Bandit Queen in 1994. Although he continued making award-winning English films like Elizabeth – The Golden Age in 2007, his much talked-about Hindi dream project Paani featuring Sushant Singh Rajput will soon roll.

Kundan Shah, the name behind films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa directed his last feature Dil Hai Tumhara in 2002. He is working on his latest feature P Se PM Tak, which is set to hit cinema screens next year.

The much-hyped and controversial film Ek Chhoti Si Love Story, which created quite a furore for depicting the love story of a young boy and a mature woman way back in 2002, was directed by Shashilal K Nair. The director is now planning to make a comeback to direction with South superstar Mohanlal in an action drama.

And the most recent comeback was that of director Shaad Ali, who is credited with hits like Saathiya and his last release, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, which hit cinemas in 2007. The director is back with his latest film Kill Dil, which will release in November and features a feisty cast comprising Ranveer Singh, Ali Zafar, Govind and Parineeti Chopra.

So this week, we ask the industry how relevant these filmmakers are to today’s times. Over to them:

Kumar Taurani, Producer

Filmmakers who have built a reputation often take a sabbatical. They are creative people and, sometimes, fame is too much to handle. Despite taking a break, they keep up with the times since they are an intellectual lot. Thus, no matter how long the gap, they know their craft and what the audience is looking for at that point of time.

Also, no matter how old you are, you have to work with young people or at least be surrounded by them to understand their likes and dislikes. I have seen many directors go wrong because they chose to stick to their old team and refused to mingle with young people. When that happens, you lose that connection with ground realities.

Jayantilal Gada, Chairman, Pen India Ltd

It is a myth to assume that if a director makes a film after a long time, the audience loses interest in their films. Look at filmmakers like Rakesh Roshan and Rajkumar Santoshi. They have been making films for a very long time and are still tuned in to what the youth wants. We are producing Kundan Shah’s film P Se PM Tak. Shah will be directing after 12 years and yet we have full faith in him. He is a director who is always ahead of his times. All his films have been pathbreaking and out-of-the-box, so we decided to back him even though he had not made a film in a long time.

Atul Agnihotri, Director

Once you become a director you always remain a director because the creative man in you never dies. It doesn’t matter to which year, generation you belong, if you can hit the emotions right then your film will work. Directors like David Dhawan and Rakesh Roshan have been making cinema and they always make relevant cinema keeping in mind what’s happening around. And their box office success says it all.

Anand L Rai, Director

If you have a great story and good script, the audience will surely like your film. Times have changed and the audience is ready to experiment so one can’t get stuck to similar kind of filmmaking and storytelling. That’s why one has to evolve with the time and that is what most successful directors do. Surely a good film will work. Look at David Dhawan he is known for making comedy films but when you watch his recent comedy films they are relevant to today’s time and are not at all outdated.

Anil Sharma, Director

You need to tell a good story, which audience can connect to that’s. Sooraj Barjatya has always made family sagas but he has kept the timing in his mind, Vivaah was very unlike his big family films because by the time he made that film joint families have turned into nuclear families. So as a director one needs to work with the young generation to understand what is happening in today’s time. Ramesh Sippy had made Sholay the ever green film, but I am sure his next film Shimla Mirch will be very different and unique.

Amole Gupte, Director

A filmmaker has to make films. They are passionate about filmmaking, when that urge comes to tell a story a maker can’t resist and that’s what happened to Ramesh Sippy after so many years there came a story which he wants to tell. And nothing changes when you think of a story. It usually comes from your surroundings so a story is never outdated. I am really looking forward to what Ramesh Sippy or someone like Sooraj Barjatya is making and I am sure so is the audience.

Jaspal Dhingra, Nanksar Enterprises

A director builds credibility only after proving his or her worth to the audience. I don’t think this can get tarnished by a long break. There are so many talented newcomers today that the youth may not be aware of some of our veteran filmmakers. So I don’t know whether they are eagerly awaiting the films made by these senior directors.

Jeetu Khandelwal, Movie Pioneers

It doesn’t matter how long a filmmaker like Sooraj Barjatya has stayed away from direction. When he announces a film, the film-going audience in the country looks forward to his films because of his reputation he’s built over the years. These directors keep in touch with the changing times and will never go out of fashion. We look forward to their films because they have delivered hits in the past. Rakesh Roshan and David Dhawan are the best examples.

Debashish Dey, Aum Moviez

Age is just a number for these directors. They keep reinventing themselves with their stories so no matter how long they stay away from the screen, when they are back with their latest releases, a sizebale number of people shows interest and their films open well too. When Sooraj Barjatya made Vivaah, it was not a film of a popular genre at that time. It released one week after Dhoom 2 and became a huge hit.

Vijay Kher, NR Multimedia

I don’t think the audience watches a film because of the film per se or the director who made it. They are attracted by the content, trailer and songs. On the other than, directors like Yash Chopra made films till the very end and still kept in touch with the youth. So I don’t think a long break erodes the credibility of a filmmaker. Content is ultimately king.

Brijesh Tandon, HK Tandon and Company

Today audiences don’t see who is the director or actor. It’s all about the trailer. If that’s appealing to them, they go and take a chance with the film. But when you hear a director’s name like Ramesh Sippy or Subhash Ghai you definitely want to go and see what they have made as there is an urge to see their filmmaking. I don’t think any director ever gets outdated. They always keep on trying new things out.

Sarang Chandak, Shri Rang Films

Rakesh Roshan is one of those directors who has kept up with time. He makes films on concepts which even new directors can’t think of. Look at the way he used technology in his last film Krrish 3! So I don’t think that if a director takes a break of a few years, he will not be able to gel with the new generation. If you have a story to tell and if it appeals to today’s audience it will definitely work. But if you’re telling the same story which you narrated in all your past films then that might not attract the audience.

Rajesh Thadani, Multimedia Combines

When Sooraj Barjatya announced his next with Salman Khan the entire nation in fact his fans all over the world became excited to see what they will bring back on the table, so once a legend always remains a legend. If you make a film which is baseless then you can’t push it any which ways. Today audiences have evolved they don’t take rubbish even if you cast superstars.

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