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Bollywood's Ten Prolific Bengali Filmmakers

Last updated on: September 13, 2012 12:41 IST

Image: A scene from Barfi!. Inset: Anurag Basu

The Hindi Film Industry is a famously cosmopolitan space welcoming creativity of all lands and regions. This absorption of variety in culture and personalities is instrumental in the production of memorable cinema.

While there's ample representation from all the directions of the country, quite a few Bengali filmmakers are drawing acclaim for their uncompromised, compelling or groundbreaking style of filmmaking.

It's definitely not a recent trend. All through the years, legendary Bengali directors like Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray, Asit Sen, Shakti Samanta, Satyen Bose, Hrishikesh Mukerjee, Basu Chaterjee and Basu Bhattacharya have front lined the cause of Hindi films garnering enormous respect and accolades in the process.

The current lot isn't behind in doing quality work what with some of the best films of 2012 are helmed by Bangla-speaking visionaries. Here's profiling the B-men of B-town. 

Anurag Basu

After working on the hit television soap series, Tara, Anurag Basu realised his heart lies in making feature films. A couple of false starts later, the director hit jackpot for the Bhatt camp with the musical thriller, Murder.

Proving there's more to him than adapting Unfaithful with a scorching Mallika Sherawat,  Basu impressed with his narrative style and technique in films like Gangster and Life... In A Metro while battling serious illness (He was diagnosed with acute leukemia and underwent chemotherapy.)

Although the big-budget Kites with Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori failed to follow suit, his soon-to-release Barfi! with Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra radiates confidence and a determination to explore new genres.

Dibakar Banerjee

Image: Emraan Hashmi and Abhay Deol in Shanghai. Inset: Dibakar Banerjee

He's one of the top filmmakers of the country. And with good reason. Having made truly incredible films without a single mandatory Khan and on his own terms is practically unheard of in this camp-driven industry.

The man's resume is sparkling with intelligence, wit and innovation -- Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye, Love Sex Aur Dhoka and Shanghai.

If that's not versatile, what is?

Sujoy Ghosh

Image: Parambrata Chatterjee and Vidya Balan in Kahaani. Inset: Sujoy Ghosh

From engineering to journalism to filmmaking, the Kolkata-born filmmaker is as mercurial as his movies.

Sujoy Ghosh began his career paying tribute to the iconic composer, Rahul Dev Burman in his directorial debut, Jhankaar Beats with Vishal-Shekhar's catchy soundtrack and a star cast of Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Rahul Bose and Riya Sen.

Even as his subsequent films, Home Delivery and Aladin failed to make any impact, they reflected a sense of refusal to attempt the tried and tested.

Enter Kahaani -- his Vidya Balan-led mystery shot entirely in Kolkata, which rocked the box office and critic appraisals early this year. And what do you know? Ghosh is back with a bang.


Image: Radhika Apte and Sanjay Suri in I Am. Inset: Onir

Though born in Bhutan, Onir aka Anirban Dhar is of Bengali origin and best known for his small-budget albeit meaningful fare.

After directing and editing documentary shorts, the mild-mannered creative ventured in feature film territory with My Brother Nikhil, which opened to raving reviews.

His next few films, Sorry Bhai and Bas Ek Pal followed a more commercial tone and were rejected by the audience. But with his anthology, I Am, which won a National Award for Best Hindi Film, Onir reaffirmed his ability to tell a hard-hitting story.

Shoojit Sircar

Image: Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam in Vicky Donor. Inset: Shoojit Sircar

Notice the lighthearted take on Bengali stereotypes through Yami Gautam's Ashima Roy in Vicky Donor? Trust a Bengali to execute it with such credibility.

Director Shoojit Sircar may have made everyone sit up and take notice of his talent with the frothy comedy about a sperm donor but his previous take on the unrest in Kashmir, Yahaan starring Jimmy Shergill and Minissha Lamba was fairly appreciated.

Ayan Mukherjee

Image: Ranbir Kapoor and Konkana Sen Sharma in Wake Up Sid. Inset: Ayan Mukherjee

Son of actor Deb Mukherjee, Ayan isn't new to Bollywood.

He started out as an assistant to Ashutosh Gowariker and Karan Johar. The latter was impressed enough to sign the 20-something to make his own coming-of-age story, Wake Up Sid with Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma.

Mukherjee's young and hip outlook reminded viewers of an early Farhan Akhtar. At present, he's back to working with Kapoor for Dharma Productions' Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani co-starring
Deepika Padukone and Kalki Koechlin. Buzz is the romance pays tribute to the dazzling musicals of Nasir Hussain.

Pradeep Sarkar

Image: Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan in Parineeta. Inset: Pradeep Sarkar

One of the most respected names in the advertising world opted for a rather late debut as Bollywood director with Vidhu Vinod Chopra's production Parineeta.

While Pradeep Chandra's knowledge of the Bengali culture came in handy adapting the Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novella, he earned flak for his regressive portrayal of women in Yashraj's Laaga Chunari Mein Daag.

He's yet to announce a new film since the lukewarm reception to Neil Nitin Mukesh-Deepika Padukone starrer, Lafangey Parindey.

Rituparno Ghosh

Image: Preity Zinta and Amitabh Bachchan in The Last Lear. Inset: Rituparno Ghosh

The celebrated director and 10-time National award winner of Bengali cinema (Utsab, Shubho Mahurat, Bariwali, Choker Bali) has also worked on/with Hindi films and Bollywood actors, prominent among them being Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

His poetic treatment and elegant aesthetics have breathed life and melancholy into somber subjects like Raincoat and The Last Lear even as the yet-to-release Sunglass featuring R Madhavan waits to receive similar glory.

Aparna Sen

Image: Rahul Bose and Konkana Sen Sharma in Mr and Mrs Iyer. Inset: Aparna Sen

Critically acclaimed filmmaker/actress Aparna Sen has as many as three National awards and eight international film festival awards to her credit.

Among universally feted films like 36 Chowringhee Lane, Sen has directed her talented daughter Konkona in award winning films Mr And Mrs Iyer and 15 Park Avenue.

Ken Ghosh

Image: Amrita Rao, Shahid Kapoor and Shenaz Treasurywala in Ishq Vishk. Inset: Ken Ghosh

As music director Ken Ghosh has worked on a numerous hit videos like Alisha Chinai's Made in India, Shweta Shetty's Johnny Joker and Baba Sehgal's Dil Dhadke before going to helm an Archie comics-inspired teen romance that introduced Shahid Kapoor.

Ishq Vishk turned out to be a runaway success leading the path for future collaborations with Kapoor on the crime thriller Fida and dance caper, Chance Pe Dance.