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Meet Bollywood's Showmen!

Last updated on: April 17, 2019 16:13 IST

Looking at Bollywood's GRAND scheme of things.

Steven Spielberg once said he dreams for a living.

Quite a few film-makers back in Bollywood do too.

Cinema's magical ability to transport a viewer into a world of pulsating drama and glorious creations, until their gobsmacked senses applaud in awe, is what makes it such a beloved source of escape.

If some hit hard through raw reality, some provide comfort in simplicity but there are some who will leave no stone unturned in scale or showmanship to ensure their vision is big, bold and beautiful.

Inspired by the grandeur of Dharma Productions's Kalank, Sukanya Verma looks at the long line of film-makers known for doing just that.

 

Sohrab Modi

Be it the extensive battle scenes or verbose face-offs, Modi's rich eye for details and authenticity colours the theatrical soul of his incomparable historical epics like Sikandar, Pukar and Jhansi Ki Rani.

 

V Shantaram

As one of Hindi cinema's pioneering and prolific film-makers, V Shantaram blends classical arts and social relevance resulting in magnificently choreographed gems like Navrang, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje and Geet Gaya Patharon Ne as well as humanist endeavours like Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani and Do Aankhen Barah Haath.

 

K Asif

There will never be another Mughal-E-Azam, simply because there cannot be another K Asif.

Though its 16-year-long making was nothing short of a production nightmare, his perseverance set the benchmark for opulence. Quite something given none of his other works reached such heights.

 

Mehboob Khan

Aan, Amar, Andaz and, above all, Mother India, Mehboob Khan's ability to take social themes and render them cinematically imposing gave their emotions a groundbreaking edge.

 

Kamal Amrohi

The style and poetic spectacle of Kamal Amrohi's cinema is arduous to create, impossible to ignore and worthy of study, whether it's a classic like Mahal and Pakeezah or an expensive misfire like Razia Sultan.

 

Raj Kapoor

A showman for the ages, Raj Kapoor's big-budget musicals like Sangam, Bobby, Mera Naam Joker, Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Prem Rog packed in lush images of art, affluence and perfection.

You see its expression in the manner he picturised his songs or portrayed his leading lady.

 

The Anand Brothers

In collaboration with Navketan (Taxi Driver, Kala Bazaar, Guide, Prem Pujari, Jewel Thief) or otherwise, siblings Dev Anand's eye for talent (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Chetan Anand's sprawling ambition (Haqeeqat) and Vijay Anand's wizardry in nuances (Johny Mera Naam) made history on celluloid.

 

Shakti Samanta

High on flamboyant masala, unflinching melodrama, heady glamour and chartbusting music, Shakti Samanta's brand of ritzy entertainment translated in money-spinners like Kashmir Ki Kali, An Evening in Paris, Kati Patang, Aradhana, Amar Prem and The Great Gambler.

 

Nasir Hussain

A master of gorgeously dressed entertainment, the lavishly choreographed song and dance routine of his formulaic romances -- Teesri Manzil, Pyar Ka Mausam, Caravan, Yaadon Ki Baarat, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, regularly raised a toast to his love for razzle-dazzle like few can.

 

Yash Chopra

Daydreaming in Switzerland, romantic strolls in Holland's tulip gardens, reciting poetry in Kashmir's fresh snowfall, weekend getaways in Germany, going through life's biggest heartbreaks and challenges inside luxurious mansions of India or abroad, Yash Chopra's incredible aesthetic aspired us to dream big and dream rich in films like Kabhie Kabhie, Silsila, Chandni and so many more.

 

Manmohan Desai

Anhonee ko honee karde honee ko anhonee is a one of a kind madness in Manmohan Desai's methods.

From roping nearly all of Bollywood for one song to making sense of the absolute absurd, the Naseeb director's gallery-playing opulence made him the ticket-paying public's ultimate showman.

 

Manoj Kumar

Manoj Kumar's passion for patriotism on a jumbo scale earned him the title of Mr Bharat, one that originated with Upkar, strengthened in Purab Aur Paschim and Roti Kapda Aur Makaan and, finally, hit its peak in the ambitious, adventurous blockbuster success of Kranti.

 

Feroz Khan

Introducing the desi audience to F1 car racing in Apradh, busting a brand new Mercedes for a scene in Qurbani, shooting extensively in Afghanistan for Dharmatma, Feroz Khan's super swanky film-maker made style his signature and extravagance his appeal.

 

Ramesh Sippy

More than four decades later, the magnificent canvas of Sippy's Sholay, its stars, sets, scale remains unprecedented.

His other biggies -- Shaan and Saagar -- may not share Sholay's extraordinary success but Sippy's slick production standards stay put.

 

Rajkumar Kohli

Roping in nearly every popular star for wacky supernatural themes like shape-shifting snakes (Naagin), monster-faced curses (Jaani Dushman) and costume-y royal adventures (Raaj Tilak), the audacious themes and fun shenanigans of Rajkumar Kohli entertainers do not get enough credit.

 

J P Dutta

Before he got hooked to the war genre in the big scale action of Border, LoC Kargil and Paltan, J P Dutta was known for his sumptuous Rajasthan-based stories of rivalry and rebellion in Ghulami, Batwara, Yateem and Kshatriya. His propensity for big star casts is constant.

 

Subhash Ghai

Addressed as Showman Ghai for a better part of his career, his speciality in high-pitched drama, star-studded multistarrers, casting coups and sensational soundtrack led to crowd-pleasers like Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Taal and Pardes.

 

Mukul S Anand

Though he died young, Mukul S Anand's grandeur-filled, glossy treatment of Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikant and Govinda's Hum, the Big B's never before intensity in Agneepath, the fast and furious Afghanistan-based action in Khuda Gawah and the few stunning glimpses one saw of the sadly-shelved Dus underscore his towering talent.

 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Look at his body of work -- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Bajirao Mastani, Goliyon Ki Raas Leela Ram Leela, Padmaavat -- and you will agree that opulence is his middle name.

The trademark lushness and traditional splendour occupying his richly designed frames, whether it's a costume drama, period epic, historical, star-crossed romance, literary adaptation or love triangle, all screams big screen poetry.

 

Ashutosh Gowariker

Ashutosh Gowariker started his career on an average note with movies like Pehla Nash and Baazi but gained eminence with the Oscar-nominated Lagaan.

The vast scale and impressive product design of its story telling was followed by films that continue to push the envelope, for better or worse, through films like Swades, Jodha Akbar, Mohenjo Daro and the upcoming Panipat.

 

 

Farah Khan

Main Hoon Naa, Om Shanti Om or Happy New Year -- there's no place for modesty in Farah Khan's frothy vision.

All her films, awesome or awful, are an exercise in kitschy excesses that reveal her larger-than-life influences and deep love for the Manmohan Desai school of thought.

 

Karan Johar

Foreign locations, palatial homes, designer fashion, fantasy colleges, showy dance numbers, biggest stars of Bollywood, you simply cannot ignore the posh vibe of Karan Johar's fancy schmancy world in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham or, in all likelihood, Takht.

Sukanya Verma
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