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Sukanya Verma

Versatility is Rajkumar Santoshi's middle name.

Erstwhile assistant to filmmaker Govind Nihalani, Santoshi made a smashing debut with Ghayal, followed by the hard-hitting Damini. A comedy of errors was unleashed with Andaz Apna Apna. Next came the eternal love story of poor boy and rich girl in Barsaat.

Ghatak, China Gate and Pukar saw the action man in Santoshi come to the fore. Next, he made Lajja, a social drama about women for women. And then, Santoshi's patriotic sensibilities were expressed through The Legend Of Bhagat Singh.

January 23 marks the release of his multi-starrer cop drama Khakee, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai, Tusshar Kapoor, Jaya Pradha and Atul Kulkarni.

Post Khakee, Santoshi is committed to AB Corp's Ranveer (Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt) and his dream project Prithviraj Samyukta (Ajay Devgan, Aishwarya Rai).

rediff.com takes a look at Rajkumar Santoshi's impressive careergraph:

 
 
 


Ghayal

Before Ghayal, Sunny Deol was having a hard time in Bollywood. The film changed his and debutante director Rajkumar Santoshi's fortune.

This Sunny Deol home production (Vijeyta Films) presented the actor in a new light. Remember Deol's fury behind bars?

Ghayal won five Filmfare trophies for Best Actor, Director, Film, Story, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction and the National Award for Best Popular Film.

 
 


Damini

If Ghayal resurrected Sunny Deol as an actor and star, Damini established Meenakshi Seshadri's credentials as an actress.

As an idealistic woman who opposes her family to support the cause of a rape victim, Meenakshi was restrained yet vulnerable. Santoshi extracted the career best out of Meenakshi as well as his favourite Sunny in the role of a drunkard lawyer.

Sunny Deol won a National Award for his performance in Damini.

 
 


Andaz Apna Apna

In an interview to rediff.com, Santoshi had said, "Comedy comes naturally to me, haansta bhi hoon haansata bhi hoon (I laugh and make others laugh)."

With Andaz Apna Apna, he managed this feat as well. Not only did Santoshi manage to assemble a cast featuring Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor; he also proved his flexibility as a filmmaker by creating this memorable comedy.

Surprisingly, Santoshi has not made another funny film after AAA.

 
 


Barsaat

The prime focus of Barsaat was to launch Bobby Deol and Twinkle Khanna into films.

Sunny Deol entrusted this task to Santoshi.

Although the story of his first love story was hackneyed and predictable, the director managed to extract natural and spontaneous performances out of the two newcomers.

 
 


Ghatak

Ghatak, perhaps one of Santoshi's most underrated works, was a poignant drama about a father and a son and the injustice meted on them.

Sunny Deol was in his element, as always seen in a Santoshi film. But it was Amrish Puri that stole the show as the ailing father of Deol in the film.

Ghatak also made waves thanks to Mamta Kulkarni's sultry special appearance in the song, Koi jaaye to.

 
 


China Gate

China Gate was touted as Santoshi's ode to Akira Kurosawa. Inspired by the legendary Japanese filmmaker's The Seven Samurai, Santoshi's big budget feature boasted of an unusual cast.

On one hand it had actors like Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Danny Denzongpa, Amrish Puri and on the other there were starlets like Mamta Kulkarni, Samir Soni and newcomer Mukesh Tiwari.

The film failed to make a difference. Chamma chamma, later used in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, was the only catchy aspect of China Gate.

 
 


Pukar

After Barsaat, Santoshi decided to make a love story again. Pukar was an unconventional premise for romance to bloom.

Like Santoshi explained in an interview, "It is an emotional, intense love story with the Army as the backdrop. There is also an espionage angle to it. We talk about love in this film -- love in the sense of romance, but also love with respect to the motherland. I wanted to make a love story where love itself becomes a problem and the reason for creating rifts. That is how I came across this story."

Although the film wasn't a huge success, it boasted of intense performances from Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit. Pukar fetched Kapoor a National Award.

 
 


Lajja

If Damini revolved around one woman, Lajja showcased many facets of women from different walks of life, suffering humiliation at the hands of a decadent society and being treated as a commodity in the 21st century.

Lajja attracted a lot of attention, thanks to its star-studded cast, featuring Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala, Mahima Chaudhary, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgan and Danny Denzongpa.

 
 


The Legend of Bhagat Singh

Santoshi's version of Bhagat Singh's patriotic saga was unanimously declared the best among the series of films made on the legendary revolutionary.

Whether or not it was politically correct is debatable, but on an emotional and cinematic level, Santoshi convincingly portrayed the agony and the patriotic frenzy of the politically driven youth of the Forties.

The man responsible for Sunny Deol and Anil Kapoor's National Awards did the trick for Ajay Devgan as well. Devgan won his second National Award for Best Actor (after Zakhm) for this film.

 
 

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