Sonakshi Sinha, the Reluctant Actress
Bollywood can never be the same again. Blame Sonakshi Sinha for it. Or Anurag Kashyap. Or even Shah Rukh Khan.
The year 2013 has seen many game-changers -- stars making new rules, new kinds of movies and new records at the box office.
The first of a special year-end series, where we look at the biggest Change-Makers of Bollywood in 2013:
Because: She smashed the size zero mindblock, and hasn't yet stepped on the strip-to-make-a-hit route.
Sonakshi, until now only the lucky mascot of blockbusters, came into her own this year with the critically-acclaimed Lootera. All on her own terms.
-- By Vikramaditya Motwane
I cast Sonakshi in my film because I really liked what she did in her small role in Dabangg.
I remember the scene in which Salman comes in and catches her in her house. And I looked at her eyes as she is looking at him.
I remember that very specifically, the anger in her eyes.
I found something interesting in her and realised there was more in her, especially for someone making her debut.
And she could hold herself against someone like Salman Khan. That really meant something.
The only film of hers I had seen until I started shooting Lootera, was Dabangg. But I could tell that not only was she pretty, but she can hold her performance.
She is a bit of a reluctant actress, in the sense that she didn't set out to be an actress. She wanted to be a designer. It was not her childhood dream to be an actress.
It was almost like stardom was going to come to her.
She doesn't have anything to lose, because she didn't set herself for success. And I think that quality of not giving a damn works for her as an actress.
She puts in everything and she is very natural and willing to learn.
I figured out during Lootera that she comes with a very fresh mind in the morning to shoot. She listens to what you have to say. And then she goes ahead and does it.
If she doesn't nail it in the first take, she will do it in the second.
She has that quality and it surprised me. I was quite taken aback not just by her acting, but the way she looked at Ranveer (Singh).
So I think because she is not putting any pressure on herself to succeed every role seems to work for her.
She is a thorough professional. She was on the set everyday before I was.
Stardom hasn't gone to her head at all.
She does not have a career graph in her mind where she would think she has to be at a certain position by a given age. She likes to be busy and is doing far greater number of films than anybody else.
She doesn't have any inhibitions in terms of people she works with. Sonakshi has no issues working with Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar or even Salman Khan who are much older than her.
She loves doing commercial films. She says I want to do the films I like to watch. These are the films I grew up watching.
Vikramaditya Motwane directed Sonakshi Sinha in Lootera.
As told to Aseem Chhabra.
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Image: Sonakshi Sinha in Lootera
Anurag Kashyap and Guneet Monga, the New Wave
Anurag Kashyap and Guneet Monga
Because: Peddlers, The Lunchbox, Monsoon Shootout, Shahid -- Anurag Kashyap and Guneet Monga's filmography of 2013 is the same as the best offbeat Indian films this year.
Together, the most prolific producers of indie cinema have made a global impact, and, more importantly, bridged the gap between such films and buyers.
--By Hansal Mehta
Anurag Kashyap has always stood out and dared to make films which no one else has done. He is like a pioneer of Indian cinema.
When he started making films, he struggled a lot to release his films, but that didn't deter him. He kept on making films the way he wanted.
He had the audacity, courage and the determination to make a completely different kind of cinema and in the process he created an entire parallel system.
Also the fact remains that Anurag has created a brand of himself.
Today, a lot of people refer to alternative films as 'Anurag Kashyap kind of films'.
Time and again, Anurag has given something different and cerebral in his films. He has always been a risk taker. Till recently he always made films and made them successfully which no production house wanted to produce.
He found it very difficult to make his voice heard. He was always troubled by the industry, but that never pulled him down. It just made him stronger.
I remember the first time I met Anurag at actor Manoj Bajpayee's house. I was waiting for Manoj and Anurag walked in.
He looked at me and said, "You are Hansal, na? I have seen a lot of your short films and I would like to work with you. I would like to write a story for you."
There is an easy charm about him and a child-like passion inside him in whatever he does. He has always been a mentor to aspiring filmmakers, actors, writers, etc. He has always encouraged new talent.
Anurag for the first time is working with big stars like Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma in Bombay Velvet, but he is one of the few directors who doesn't believe in the so-called 'star system'.
I always saw Anurag as a director more than a writer. I have worked with him on several occasions and every time I have told him that whatever he writes is for him. Most of the films that he has written for others have never been fully executed.
He is almost like a Quentin Tarantino. There was a huge difference in the films Tarantino wrote for other directors and the films that he wrote and directed himself.
Anurag's madness is the same and only he can create this mad world.
Most of the directors, including me, could not understand the madness and the quirkiness he brought in his scripts.
Anurag is one director who will never find his dues within our county. He will definitely find his due internationally like Shekhar Kapur did.
Hansal Mehta is the director of Shahid, which was produced by Anurag Kashyap's production house.
As told to Sonil Dedhia.
--By Vasan Bala
Guneet Monga came to Mumbai to work with Shah Rukh Khan, but that was hard.
The greatest thing about Guneet was that she was so impressionable that she could grasp anything. She wasn't caught up with her own opinions.
She was the kind of person who would be more excited about an idea and that is why she has had so much success. She is basically looking for the next idea and wanting to jump onto it.
That trait of hers she shares with Anurag Kashyap, though it is at a different level for him. He is also an artist in the sense that if nothing works, he will go back to his pen and paper, but Guneet gets excited about being with people.
They both have this positive energy. We were these timid middle-class people kind of in awe of Anurag, but also wanting to do what he does, but we didn't really know what to do.
Suddenly this Punjaban (Monga) joins us and she has big dreams.
She would have a clear dream, such as 'Oh I need to get the Oscar,' and that is it.
She made it feel like everything was possible. Over the years I have realised that she is unstoppable.
She could be coming up with an impossible idea, but after a while what we learned is to be a part of it.
The best thing for Guneet was that she came in contact with Anurag.
One thing I have found in both Anurag and Guneet -- one with a lot of knowledge and the other without knowledge -- was a complete lack of ego.
Anurag, despite his knowledge and work, never had an ego or qualms about his position. Somehow he has still retained that purity.
He loves his DVDs and until a few years he would get people to watch his films. There is so much earnestness in him.
And neither did Guneet. She can stand in front of the biggest guy and say, 'See, I don't know anything. But there is this filmmaker. I don't know why, but somehow I like what he is saying. And I want to work with him.'
Most of us are stuck up in our complexities and don't know how to approach people. Guneet becomes this honest representation of us.
She also does not have any personal agenda and so far she has not made any money. It is because of the kind of subjects she has chosen.
Today The Lunchbox is such a success. But the whole success of The Lunchbox is just Ritesh (Batra, the director) and Guneet and their conviction and they managed to do so much with it.
Her excitement is infectious. It is pure energy that she possesses.
There is something extremely magnanimous about Anurag and Guneet. They can give away their houses, their cars. But with Anurag you don't mess with his DVDs. Guneet sold her house in Delhi to fund Monsoon Shootout.
Guneet once said, 'I have no dreams. My dreams are my directors's dreams. And I think that takes a large heart to say that. It is not just spoken words. She puts it into practice.
The other filmmakers have gone through the conventional grind of the film industry. Guneet from her early years has only been a part of collaborations.
The first film she actually produced was Peddlers. She was the main producer. So, she hadn't been corrupted by the system.
She has not been a part of the nitty-gritty of negotiations and sales, which can suck out your morale.
When it was time for her to green-light some of the projects, she wasn't burdened or scarred with the experience. Now she has learned the rest of the business so she is dealing with exhibitors and distributors.
She has become a very recognisable face in film festival circuits and it is her positive energy that people connect to.
Vasan Bala is the director of Peddlers, the money for which was raised by Guneet Monga through crowd sourcing.
As told to Aseem Chhabra.
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Image: Paul A Hebert/Getty Images
Farhan Akhtar, Man of Many Mantles
Because: Farhan's ID on Twitter is FarOutAkhtar. That quite describes the man who juggles several roles -- actor, director, singer, producer -- and does brilliantly at all of them.
Case in point this year: Actor of the superhit Bhaag Milkha Bhaag; producer of the hit Fukrey.
--By Zoya Akhtar
I'm not really familiar with him as a producer as he hasn't produced any of my films, but Farhan, the actor, is extremely talented and great to work with.
Mostly because he knows me and my work well, it is complete bliss to work with him.
Similarly, I know him well too and I know instinctively what buttons to push when he is acting in my film.
What sets Farhan -- the actor -- apart from his contemporaries is the fact that he is a director himself.
He knows his way around a script, he is familiar with the workings of a camera, and he is all-round technically sound.
He understands the whole filmmaking process, he can tell if a particular shot works or not.
Also, owing largely to his work as a director again, he gets the larger perspective, different contexts; for him, it is not just about delivering his part in a film.
Any director will be more than delighted to work with such an actor.
For someone who has been in the Hindi film industry for a little over a decade -- Farhan made his Bollywood debut as a director with Dil Chahta Haiin 2000 -- he has an extremely versatile body of work to his credit.
It is fantastic how he is always interested in doing varied and exciting roles.
Right from Rock On!! to Karthik Calling Karthik and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, all his acting projects have been very interesting.
Even his directorial debut -- Dil Chahta Hai -- was pretty iconic. It changed the entire lingo, the vibe of Hindi films, from that time on.
Farhan -- along with Ritesh Sidhwani (friend and partner in his production house Excel Entertainment) -- is always consciously trying to extend that idea into their production work as well. They are the kind of producers who put their money where their mouth is.
They are always gunning for non-mainstream stories and good actors who are lesser-known to make entertaining films in a commercial space.
It wouldn't seem right to sum up or evaluate the kind of work Farhan is doing as an actor, director and producer because one typically does that when someone's career is drawing to a halt.
Farhan is just starting out, he will achieve a great deal in the time to come.
Zoya Akhtar directed Farhan Akhtar in Luck By Chance and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
She is also his sister.
As told to Nishi Tiwari.
Who are Bollywood's other Change-Makers? Please click here to read the second part of the series.
Image: Farhan Akhtar in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag