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Forgotten Mentors

They may be understated but a legion of directors today are who they are because these directors inspired them by their work

My greatest fear as a director is being forgotten. It is so important to change with the times and, if you don’t, phir kab aap khud dated ho jaoge aapko hi nahi pata chalega. This happens a lot in our industry. But I also realise that talent doesn’t have very much to do with whether or not a director is remembered.

Let us dwell a little on a couple of legendary Hollywood directors. Woody Allen is amazing also because he has been making movies for decades. The astonishing part is that his movies are in the contemporary space. Then there is Clint Eastwood. Quentin Tarantino too falls into this category although he doesn’t make very many movies.

Even Martin Scorsese is still relevant. His film, The Wolf Of Wall Street, seems like it has been made by a much, much younger director. In fact, I cannot name any other director who has made films for that long a time. Mujhe toh koi yaad nahi jisne age ke saath rehke film banayi hain. Everybody gets dated in the end.

Having said that, there are some directors who will live forever for their creations on celluloid. There are already so many and there will be many more. Their work has been inspirational and, whether or not they know it, they have taught us so much about the art and craft of direction.

Here are a few directors who have inspired us to make movies and fall in love with the art of cinema.

Raj Khosla

One of the best and most beautiful things about the movies of Raj Khosla was their music. I was told that he himself was a very good singer. Hence, the music in all his films was beyond amazing. The song, Maar diya jaye ya chod diya jaye from Mera Gaon Mera Desh, and the other songs in that film were just phenomenal. The music in his film Mera Saaya is one of my absolute favourites. I mean, look at songs like Tu jahaan jahaan chalega, mera saaya saath hoga.

He also directed Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki and the title song again was beautiful. Also, the concept in that film was great, it was such an Indian, rooted concept. Then there is his film Kuchhe Dhaage, with Kabir Bedi and Vinod Khanna. Kya gaane the iss film ke! He made this film on daakus back then, isn’t that just so cool? And how can we forget Woh Kaun Thi? What a film that was and what music it had! Lata Mangeshkar’s song, Lag jaa gale is such a haunting song. It was amazingly shot, with Sadhana walking through the snow and Manoj Kumar behind her. Beautiful!

Bapu

Bapu had directed Woh 7 Din, an excellent movie. He used to portray relationships very well in all his films. Another film of his that I remember is Bezubaan. And Hum Paanch was also a film made by Bapu. It was such a good film and he based it on the Mahabharata. Hum Paanch was actually Bapu’s first film in the Hindi film industry. Prem Pratigyaa was his last film here but he went on to make films till the year 2011. He passed away in 2014.

Vinay Shukla

He wrote the dialogue for Bapu’s film Hum Paanch and was a good director too. But he did not get the opportunity to prove his talent. Shukla made a film called Godmother, which won a National Award. His second film did not work well and he did not get the chance to make any more films after that.

Govind Nihalani

Although we all know him, I think he never got the due that he deserves. The storytelling technique in his work like Tamas and Droh Kaal is fabulous. I believe that Govind Nihalani was ahead of his time. The time is right only now, for him and the movies he made. His work in Tamas and Droh Kaal is extraordinary, to say the least. If his film Ardh Satya had released today, it wouldn’t have left cinema screens for a very long time. His work was beautiful in that film. I think Govindji is a director who is underutilised and underrated.

Chetan Anand

He is one director who used poetry to convey an entire film, which was Heer Raanjha. The entire film is in verse. It would seem like normal dialogue but if you listen to them with a poetic ear, it feels like poetry written by Kaifi Azmi. Then there was Haqeeqat, which is my all-time favourite. The way he shot that movie in those times is amazing. 

Sai Paranjpye

I think Sai Paranjpye is another terribly underrated director. Her work in Chashme Buddoor was phenomenal. The way she captured the mindset of young men, of the youth in the 1980s, was amazing, especially since she is a female director. If anyone but she had directed Katha, they would have cast Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah) in the grey role and the innocent-looking Farooq Shaikh as the good guy. But Paranjpye had the vision to do it the other way around. And she pulled it off. Hats off to her! What a film Katha was! And both, this film and Chashme Buddoor had a lot of great songs. Kahan se aaye badra in Chashme Buddoor is such a good song.

Basu Bhattacharya

He too has given our cinema some really great films. His film Teesri Kasam was fabulous and yet we don’t really know very much about Basu Bhattacharya. His other films like Aavishkar and Anubhav are classic movies, which were the art films of that time. One of his last films, Aastha: In The Prison Of Spring, is another example of the beautiful movies he has made. It was a very good film.

Basu Chatterjee

He was a director who was at par with Hrishikesh Mukherjee but Basu Chatterjee did not get the kind of recognition the Hrishida received. Although he was quite well-known in his time, people today only remember Hrishikesh Mukherjee. So many of his films have been classics, like Rajnigandha. Kya film thi wohRajnigandha phool tumhare. Then there was Chhoti Si Baat, which is one of my favourite films, and Khatta Meetha. What films he used to make back then!

Raj N Sippy

He was a commercial director and made Satte Pe Satta, which was great. But I still remember his first film, Inkaar. I was a kid when I watched that film and it was the first time I saw a wide shot being taken. Of course, I didn’t understand it back then but the way he shot that scene, where a man with long fingers was dialing the phone, was amazing. Aur abhi waale phone nahi, uss zamaane ke phone jismein number ghumaane padte the. But he had taken a close shot with a wide lens. It was such fabulous work.

- Vishal Bhardwaj

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