Brand is quite important when it comes to actors and filmmakers. Like, you know that Salman Khan is associated with mass entertainers, Rajkumar Hirani with light-hearted social entertainers and Farah Khan for masala potboilers. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for making larger-than-life canvasses that lend for great visual aesthetics, though he is also recently associated with period dramas. Sanjay Leela Bhansali Birthday Special: 7 Songs From The Filmmaker’s Movies That Are Visual Extravaganzas.
Not every actor or filmmaker follows any brand image. There are directors who never stick to a particular genre, format of storytelling or visual schematics. Like for example, when Farhan Akhtar used to be a director, he started off with a coming of age friendship saga in Dil Chahta Hai to end up making an action-heist-thriller in Don 2.
And there are times when a filmmaker, known for a particular brand of cinema, changes his or her style and leaves us surprised. The ‘experiment’ may not always work, but there could be appreciation for the director to move out of the comfort zone, and away from the success formula that favoured at the box office. In this special feature, we look at 10 such Bollywood directors who veered away from their usual formula, and how those ‘experiments’ were received by the critics and the audience.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji in Black
Bhansali was and is still known for his larger-than-life films, save for his restrained, still his best work, debut in Khamoshi: The Musical. The director is also known for his musicals, so it came as a surprise to many when he made the very contained drama, starring Rani Mukerji and Amitabh Bachchan, without any songs. Black went on to receive appreciation from the critics, and also performed decently at the box office.
Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in My Name is Khan
Movie: My Name is Khan
Speaking of larger-than-life, how can we miss out on Karan Johar? So it came as a surprise to many that KJo, in his third film, ditched First World problems to address bigotry and racism faced by Muslims in a post 9/11 America. We wonder if he can do a encore in the present times, though, with a similar film set in India.
Poster of Chori Chori Chupke Chupke featuring Rani, Salman and Preity
Movie: Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
The sibling filmmaker duo is famous for their (unofficially adapted) pulp thrillers. So it came shocking for us when they made a film that had not a single kill in this family drama/love triangle featuring Salman Khan, Preity Zinta and Rani Mukerji. Interestingly, the offscreen brouhaha surrounding the film – allegations of being financed by underworld – made for a typical Abbas-Mustan thriller. What say?
Poster of Kyon Ki featuring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor
Movie: Kyon Ki
A pre-Hera Pheri Priyadarshan was known for making dramas like Gardish, Virasat and Doli Sajake Rakhna. Post Hera Pheri‘s success, followed by successive hits in Hulchul and Hungama, Priyadarshan became this King of Comedy. So when he returned to drama with Kyon Ki (another Salman misfire in this list), the audiences weren’t ready for this turn. It also didn’t helped that Kyon Ki came out on the same day as Garam Masala, a comedy also directed by Priyadarshan. From Hera Pheri to Garam Masala, 7 Best Priyadarshan Comedies in Bollywood, Ranked!
A Still from Return of Hanuman
Movie: Return of Hanuman
Who would expect that director, known for his gritty thrillers like Black Friday, Ugly and Gangs of Wasseypur, would make a film that was aimed towards kids? That too, animated! Return of Hanuman was the sequel to the 2005 film Hanuman and was a film with a message. It wasn’t a great draw at the box office, but Kashyap’s attempt to do something different didn’t go unnoticed.
A Poster of Black & White feat. Anurag Sinha and Anil Kapoor
Movie: Black & White
In his prime, Subhash Ghai was a filmmaker known for his multi-starrer masala potboilers like Ram Lakhan, Khalnayak and Pardes. Black & White was a quieter film, starring Anil Kapoor in the lead, in comparison when it came to his filmography, that many still forget is a Ghai movie. While Black & White scored decent reviews, it didn’t do much of an impression at the box office.
Saqib Saleem, Salman Khan and Daisy Shah in Race 3
Movie: Race 3
The former choreographer-turned-director is known for making elaborate dance sequences sticking together in the name of cinema. While he did make A Flying Jatt, a superhero film starring Tiger Shroff, Remo isn’t the first person you think would take over from Abbas-Mustan to direct Race 3, that too directing Salman Khan, a superstar not exactly known for smooth dance moves. Rest is history that is as bad as the lyrics of “Selfish“! Radhe, Race 3 and More – 7 Worst-Rated Movies Featuring Salman Khan As the Lead on IMDb.
Poster of Dil Kya Kare feat. Mahima Chaudhry, Ajay Devgn and Kajol
Movie: Dil Kya Kare/Rahul
Prakash Jha is a filmmaker known for making hard-hitting social dramas like Mrityudand, Gangaajal, Apaharan, Raajneeti among others. However, the years 1998 and 2001 proved to be a surprise for followers of his work, when he made Dil Kya Kare and Rahul respectively. Dil Kya Kare was a love triangle cum marital drama starring Ajay Devgn, Kajol and Mahima Chaudhry. Rahul was a family drama partly inspired by Kramer vs Kramer. Both movies tanked at the box office, and Jha returned to his favourite genre.
Poster of Aan: Men at Work feat Paresh Rawal, Shatrughan Sinha, Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty
Movie: Aan: Men at Work
Thanks to his breakout success making Chandni Bar, Madhur Bhandarkar made a name as a filmmaker known for exposing society’s ugly side through his films without the need of working with box office-drawing superstars. Films like Satta, Traffic Signal, Corporate, Page 3 et al maintained that image. And then there was that odd aberration in Aan: Men at Work, a masala cop thriller featuring an ensemble cast of popular stars like Akshay Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, Lara Dutta, Raveena Tandon, Suniel Shetty, Irrfan Khan, Paresh Rawal among others. The movie, however, was a flop. Bhandarkar later tried to make a slice of life comedy with Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, with Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi. Interestingly, the director began his innings with a potboiler in Trishakti, starring Arshad Warsi and Sharad Kapoor.
Ram Gopal Varma
Aamir Khan and Urmila in Rangeela
Once upon a time a director to reckon with, Ram Gopal Varma produced several stunners, most of them thrillers. Thanks to films like Shiva, Satya, Company, he was also known for making slick gangster dramas. In between came a surprise in Rangeela, a love letter to Bollywood that also reinvented Urmila Matondkar as a sex symbol of the ’90s. Rangeela remains one of RGV’s best works, with Hindi fans of AR Rahman thankful for bringing the composer to Bollywood. while Aamir Khan’s Munna is one of his best characters. RGV later tried again to deviate from his favourite genre with Mast, a musical romcom starring Urmila and Aftab Shivdasani, but the movie failed to impress either the critics or the audience.
(The above story first appeared on Fresh Headline on Aug 03, 2021 07:59 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website freshheadline.com).