When Directors Appeared In FRONT of the Camera
We know of famous actors turning out to be equally gifted filmmakers like Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt and Dev Anand as well as filmmakers multitasking as actors like Vijay Anand, Satish Kaushik, Ashutosh Gowariker or Farhan Akhtar.
While nowhere as prolific as the afore-mentioned names, quite a few directors have channeled their inner artist to essay supporting roles, cameos or walk-in parts in such obscure films or so fleetingly, that many will not even remember.
With dynamic filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap in Onir's I Am, Sujoy Ghosh in Rituparno Ghosh's Satyanweshi and Karan Johar (he also played Shah Rukh Khan's buddy in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) in Kashyap's Bombay Velvet taking on full-fledged roles, we look at some of Hindi cinema's well-known directors and their little-known appearances on celluloid.
Zoya Akhtar, Kamasutra: A Tale of Love
While her brother Farhan has gone full steam ahead with his acting aspirations as evident in films like Luck By Chance and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Zoya Akhtar only made an exception for Mira Nair's controversial Kamasutra: A Tale of Love.
Zoya, in her early 20s, plays one of the dancing girls in Rekha's group.
Image: Zoya Akhtar (right) in Kamasutra: A Tale of Love
Gulzar, Jallianwala Bagh
In Balraj Tah's 1977 patriotic drama, focusing around revolutionary Udham Singh, poet-filmmaker Gulzar plays a supporting character to Vinod Khanna, the leading man of his own films like Mere Apne, Achanak and Lekin.
Here, along with providing the screenplay, dialogues and lyrics, the poet-filmmaker delivers impassioned, if somewhat self-conscious, speeches against the British.
Image: Gulzar in Jallianwala Bagh
Subhash Ghai, Umang
Before acquiring the title of showman with blockbusters like Kalicharan, Karma, Hero, Ram Lakhan and making mandatory cameos in his productions, Subhash Ghai started out wanting to be a hero.
And here's one of his first leading role appearances in a Atma Ram's 1970 musical Umang, which launched a hoard of newcomers besides Ghai.
Can't spot him? Notice the guy right in front wearing a yellow shirt? Bingo!
Image: Subhash Ghai (centre) in Umang
Ramesh Sippy, Bewakoof
And that's Ramesh Sippy (yep the director of Sholay, Seeta Aur Geeta, Shaan and Shakti) looking daggers at a young Vinod Mehra (not in the picture) in a scene from I S Johar's 1960 black and white film, Bewakoof.
Sippy plays a young Pran while Mehra passes off for a teenage Kishore Kumar.
Image: Ramesh Sippy (right) in Bewakoof
Kiran Rao, Dil Chahta Hai
It's a blink and miss role but Kiran Rao sure looks va va voom as Samantha Tremayne's pal (the one who bleats Aaaaaakash) in the Goa hotel lobby scene from Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai.
Too bad she doesn't share the frame with husband Aamir Khan. Nevertheless, she's slated to do a cameo in his under-production Peekay directed by Rajkumar Hirani.
Image: Kiran Rao (left) in Dil Chahta Hai
Abbas Tyrewala, Maqbool
The eloquent writer of films like Munnabhai MBBS and Maqbool who made his directorial debut with Jaane Tu..Yaa Jaane Na appears in Vishal Bhardwaj's desi Macbeth.
Tyrewala plays the scared, sobbing gangster Sadik Chikna, tricked by cops (Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri) into admission before bumping him off in the opening scene of Maqbool.
Image: Abbas Tyrewala in Maqbool
Salim Khan, Teesri Manzil
A handsome Salim Khan came to Mumbai from Indore with starry-eyed aspirations. But with nothing major coming his way, he took up bit roles, including the one of Shammi Kapoor's friend and drum player in Teesri Manzil.
While his acting career never took off, his partnership with co-writer Javed Akhtar produced some of the most entertaining scripts of Hindi cinema (Zanjeer, Sholay, Trishul, Deewar, Mr India.)
Image: Salim Khan in Teesri Manzil
Imtiaz Ali, Black Friday
With his attractive looks, wavy long hair and dynamic personality, Imtiaz Ali is an easy pick for the hero's part. But the mild-mannered director of Jab We Met and Rockstar is content to stay behind the camera.
Unless, of course, you remember his performance as the underworld don, Tiger Memon's younger brother, Yakub in Anurag Kashyap's hard-hitting Black Friday.
Image: Imtiaz Ali in Black Friday
Rajkumar Santoshi, Halo
Rajkumar Santoshi has dabbled in every genre from action, comedy, romance, biopics to social dramas.
But do you know the Phata Poster Nikla Hero maker also played an adorable father to a seven-year-old looking for her lost puppy in Santosh Sivan's National Award-winning children's film, Halo?
Image: Rajkumar Santoshi in Halo
Nikhil Advani, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
While assisting Karan Johar on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Nikhil Advani also pitched in a small cameo as a guy who dumps his girlfriend for someone else (played by Farah Khan) on Neelam's live television show.
Though he's only there for a few seconds, Advani clearly left an impression considering the number of times he was asked to confirm 'Are you that guy?' while promoting his directorial debut, Kal Ho Naa Ho under the same banner (Dharma Productions).
Image: Nikhil Advani (right) in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Apart from working on the production team of Kundan Shah's acclaimed satire, Vidhu Vinod Chopra also essayed a fun role in the memorable Mahabharata sequence.
VVC has a ball as the Draupadi-grabbing Dushshasan squabbling with Naseeruddin Shah (in Duryodhan's attire), screaming out loud for his co-actor 'Dubey' even as the 'chirrharan' chapter turns into a complete mockery.
Image: Vidhu Vinod Chopra in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Sudhir Mishra, Traffic Signal
Chopra's JBDY colleague Sudhir Mishra also played a bit role of a reporter in the 1983 classic.
Mishra, with his commanding baritone and soulful eyes, has a meatier contribution (as the shady figure Haji Bhaijaan) in Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal, which is, sadly, diluted in drama's wishy-washy contents.
Image: Sudhir Mishra in Traffic Signal