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Take Two

Directors from the Golden Era return to the saddle for a second shot at the box office pie

If the ’80s were the worst decade for the Hindi film industry, the ’90s were etched with some memorable hits. The dialogue of some of those films has entered our everyday parlance and the music of the popular films like Aashiqui rings true even today.

While we spout famous lines from super hits like Dil, Ghayal, 100 Days, Lamhe, Sanam Bewafa, Phool Aur Kaante, Beta, Aaina, Darr and Amanaat, it’s not quite as easy to remember the men who made these movies. While we have directors by the dozen today, we sometimes forget the brand value and respect some of these veteran filmmakers, who have delivered cult hit films, commanded at the time.

This week, Box Office India speaks to some of the maverick filmmakers from the Golden Era of the ’90s and finds out what are they up to. Contrary to what you think, most of them are waiting to make a comeback either with a fresh script or sequels to their once popular hits. But what’s taking so long?

Deepak Sarin
(Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai, Aaina, Albela)

I am now part of the audience but that doesn’t mean I will not direct any more. If something interesting comes up, I will definitely take up the project. I have made films like Aaina, which became a superhit. Those were the days of silver jubilees and it did great business. I was also in the US for a few years, just to take a break from work. These are the best times Hindi cinema has ever seen and are making meaningful and commercial films simultaneously. Just like society goes through changes, Hindi cinema too is evolving.

Ashok Gaikwad
(Phool Aur Angaar, Krishan Avtaar, Doodh Ka Karz, Gair)

People assume I have taken a sabbatical but I am making a film called Do Chehre starring Suniel Shetty and Shatrughan Sinha. It’s an old project but I am planning to release it soon. Two more projects of mine will go on the floors this year. Speaking of changing trends in Bollywood… I don’t think filmmaking techniques have changed. People still take close shots and long shots. Sure, technically, we have good camera equipment and we have many digital facilities. I believe only the subject of our films has changed.

We used to make films with passion whereas today filmmaking is more of a business. If you pitch a project to a producer, he immediately calculates the potential return on investment. On the other hand, all the big actors are now producing their own films, so they have a stake in their projects. But we have to understand that in Bollywood, screenplay is the heart of a film. So I don’t see many changes.

Guddu Dhanoa
(Aflatoon, Ziddi, Gundaraj, Big Brother)

This era of filmmaking is very different from the ’90s. Earlier, filmmakers felt a love and passion for their work and it often took years to make a film. Today, filmmaking has become a business and everyone thinks only of the ‘weekend’. We never used to think about profits. If we liked a script, we would make that film. Ziddi was 2 hours 40 minutes long and everyone asked me how I could make a film that was less than three hours. Now films are only two hours long, so that they can get more shows and earn more money. Talking about content, yes there are good directors who are making quality cinema but I feel the love for money has taken over the love for cinema. I am working on some scripts and will make some good films.

Raj N Sippy
(Koi KisiSe Kum Nahin, Pardesi, Thanedaar, Hamilton Palace)

I started my career in the ’80s and I must admit that the industry is a lot better than before. We used to take two to three years to make a film and sometimes juggle two films. But today, you finish a film in four months and it’s ready to release in another few months. Technically too, we have improved so much and today’s new-age directors are open to new ideas. For example, Rohit Shetty has changed the meaning of entertainment.

Ajay Kashyap
(Sahebzaade, Maa, Do Matwale, Angaar: The fire)

I am in Benaras hunting for a location for my next film. I am in love with filmmaking and will make movies till the very end. But I have accepted the changes that have taken place. Today’s audience is smart. Look closely, and you will notice many directors lifting plots from films of the ’80s and ’90s. There are only a handful of films that are new.

Aziz Mirza
(Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Yes Boss, Kismat Konnection)

I have retired from filmmaking and am enjoying my life. I continue to watch movies but I don’t think I will make films again. In the last hundred years of cinema, I believe we have grown as filmmakers and we have so many directors and actors doing new things. One of the most wonderful things that has happened to the industry is that it has opened the doors to outside talent.

Saawan Kumar Tak
(Souten, Sanam Bewafa, Chaand Kaa Tukdaa, Saawan... the love season)

I don’t think anything has changed in terms of filmmaking apart from technology. Hindi films are still made on emotions; it’s the lifeline of Hindi cinema. I have never taken a sabbatical from filmmaking; it’s my job and I am still working on a script and looking for fresh faces to cast.

We keep talking about how filmmaking has changed but established directors like Tigmanshu Dhulia are where they are only because they assisted directors for more than 10 years. However, nowadays, people assist on one film and make their debut as directors! You can’t learn the craft of direction without assisting for a long time.

Deepak Shivdasani
(Pehchaan, Baaghi, Julie, Mr. white mr. Black)

Today, there are only a handful of directors whose films sell because their name is attached to them. Today, things are very starry and corporate. The director remains the captain of the ship but, still, the credits do not highlight the director’s name.

Kundan Shah
(Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Dil Hai Tumhara)

Apart from the fact that we have advanced technically, I see no other changes in filmmaking. Our films still run high on emotions – songs, emotions and the whole hero-heroine thing. But we have become open to storytelling and there are different types of stories being told. There are three to four films releasing every week and everyone has something different to say. The one difference I see is that directors today have very little experience assisting. Back in our day, filmmakers used to assist for more than ten years before breaking out to direct their own films. Also, with corporates entering the industry, the chain of money is very clearly defined.

I have not taken a sabbatical from direction and am working on a script, which will go on the floors very soon.

Kuku Kohli
(Phool Aur Kaante, Haqeeqat, Anari No. 1, Woh Tera Naam Tha)

A lot has changed and I am happy that directors are telling real stories and taking up social issues. I see a new breed of directors today. I worked under Raj Kapoorji for more than 11 years as an assistant. This helped me grow as a director. Kapoor sir taught me editing, direction, music and how to handle actors. The kind of experience one gains while assisting is invaluable but the current crop of directors has very little experience. They assist for two to three films and then start looking for a producer for themselves. I am not saying they are no good at directing but they definitely need more experience before they can helm a film. Bollywood has also improved technically and with the entry of corporate studios, the capital structure has changed. Movie marketing and promotions are now very important. As for my own plans… I do have a few ideas but I don’t know when I will direct my next film.


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