As cyberspace gets piled up with "Best 10, 20, 75 or 100 Bollywood films of the decade" lists, the Hindi Cinema Blog has opted for a more personal approach by establishing our list of the TOP 10 FILM MAKERS of Hindi cinema in the last decade. From 2000 to 2010 some of the highest achieving film makers indeed delighted us and we wish to remember them as a new decade opens, hoping that they will continue to make us laugh, cry, jump in our seats and nurture our Hindi film addiction.
Even if this list has been established in no particular order of achievement, Vishal Bhardwaj is still featured at the top for making audiences meet a different type of Indian cinema through his involvement in internationally acclaimed films such as 'Omkara' and 'Ishqiya' (producer) or a widely applauded film by Indian audiences: 'Kaminey'. Vishal also has high reaching musical talent and is known to be an appreciated actor. He seems like an art and cinema powerhouse and we therefore thought he deserved first mention.
The man behind the deep and cheerfully humourous 'Munna Bhai MBBS' and 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' seemingly has a permanent genial muse following him around wherever he goes - some even wonder if Raj Kapoor has not been whispering him film secrets in the ear! He struck gold with a memorable '3 Idiots' in 2009 and audiences are keen to know what values will be skillfully and lightly put across in his next Munna bhai adventure.
The Hindi film industry has never been the same since this ace started challenging it continuously. After acting in several stupendous films in previous decades ('Qayamat se Qayamant tak', 'Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin', 'Sarfarosh', 'JJWS'...), Aamir Khan wooed Indian audiences towards what they were never supposed to have liked in the first place: by producing 'Lagaan', aka a film about Indian villagers playing cricket or directing 'Taare Zameen Par', a film about childhood education with no romance or item numbers! Having won this bet hands down, he proceeded to bring back Mansoor Khan (hurrah!) in order to help cook up the fresh and sweet 'Jaane Tu ya Jaane Na' and then turned into a masala hero with a Tamil style 'Ghajini'. The man who navigates the Hindi film world's pulse with bravado has continued venturing into surprising projects such as producing 'Peepli Live' and 'Dhobi Ghat'.
Though sections of the audience have started feeling a bit blasé about certain Yash Raj banner films, we believe the sole 'Veer-Zaara' tale is capable of zooming them up to this top ten list. After having seen filmgoers in various countries watch 'Veer-Zaara' and come out of the cinema with tears in their eyes, exclaiming "what a film!", we believe this film is one of the surest ways to convert an indie or world movie lover to the vast world of classic Hindi cinema. Huge thumbs up!
Another film maker who keeps pushing the envelope both in the way he directs and in relation to the subjects or narrative style he chooses is Anurag Kashyap. He stirred audiences with 'Dev D' and 'That Girl in Yellow Boots' and wrote the story behind acclaimed 2010 film 'Udaan'. Kashyap sometimes seems like the "enfant terrible" of the Hindi film industry for "showing it as it is" through his storytelling style. International audiences have come to acknowledge his attempts at incorporating groundbreaking realism to Indian cinema.
Starry eyed Karan Johar and his company, Dharma Productions, were behind some of the decade's greatest hits or most entertaining film proposals. From the Shah Rukh Khan classic, 'Kal Ho Naa Ho', penned by him and directed by Nikhil Advani, to a most recent 'Wake Up Sid' and 'Kurbaan', Karan Johar has a Midas touch for emotionally grand stories. Though we were in a bit of two minds about 'My Name is Khan' and 'We are Family' we are expecting that Johar will be serving more efficient heart tugging stories soon.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
One either loves or hates his style. Nevertheless, he is undisputably one of India's most iconic film makers. The man pulls off films that carry rich imagery and enchanting decors in any type of story. Harshly criticized by several of his peers, Bhansali is still the man who wowed Cannes audiences with Madhuri's and Aishwarya's beauty in 'Devdas', thereby introducing many foreign audiences to Indian cinema.
His latest 'Guzaarish' is also to be watched as much for an interesting plot than for admiring Goa's colonial architecture. Is it a Bhansali film? Sit down, relax and enjoy the visual ride.
Even though he may not be considered a film maker per se, the main man of UTV productions handles a company whose instinct has been changing the panorama of Hindi cinema consistently during the last decade by serving audiences several valuable off-the-beaten-path or niche films: 'Aamir', 'A Wednesday', 'Peepli Live', 'Road, Movie', 'Life in a Metro' or the more popular 'Rang de Basanti'... speaking of which...
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Mehra is in our personal top ten list mainly for 'Rang de Basanti' and for the animated fresco he offered audiences with 'Delhi 6' which, even if it did not garner box office success, is still a film with an interesting statement and beautiful visuals worth viewing if you want to see Delhi through a gifted man's eyes. Mehra is involved in environmental movements and yours truly would love a film on that subject by him if one could throw wishes to the air and watch them come true.
Roshan has enchanted audiences during this past decade, including anyone from children to seniors, with the 'Koi Mil Gaya' and 'Krrish' saga. The magic of this fantasy tale suited to young and old provided a rollicking good time and is nestled in the hearts of many.
Runners up to this list were Farhan Akhtar for a very fresh 'Dil Chahta Hai' and his stylish remake of 'Don', as well as Ram Gopal Varma for his dark 'Sarkar'. And last but not least, a personal favorite, Kamal Hassan, should be mentioned for contributing a very valuable story to the Hindi film landscape by impressively filming, scripting and acting in 'Hey Ram'.
Do not hesitate to agree or disagree with this list and to give us your very own list of top 10 film makers of the decade in our comments section below.