Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj turns 55 years old today. Born to popular lyricist Ram Bhardwaj, Vishal was always inclined towards music. He started his career with composing evergreen music for projects like Maachis, The Jungle Book, Satya - a few notable titles. In 2002, he turned to filmmaking with a low-budget horror film for children. It paved the way for the filmmaker's unfathomable dreams for Hindi cinema. Weird how it may sound, but Bhardwaj continues to be a rare film director in Bollywood with a distinctive voice and cinematic language. That is exactly what is expected of filmmakers and yet it is a rare quality. Vishal Bhardwaj Breaks Silence on Nationwide CAA Protests, Says ‘This Is Not the India I Grew Up In’.
Today, to celebrate Vishal's birthday, we are going to talk about the movies that he has directed. There are some awesome movies that he has bankrolled, trusting in the vision, but we'd be here all day if we went down that road. So, we are going to only rank the films that he has directed. In fact, ranking his films is a tough job since even his worst one is a better movie than what Bollywood churns out on a weekly basis. Here we go:
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Vishal made this political satire, which almost seems fantastical when you watch it. Anushka Sharma, Imran Khan and Pankaj Kapur star in the movie, with only the Jaane Tu Jaane Na star looking weirdly out of place. Set in a rustic, gritty village, the movie deals with issues of alcohol withdrawal, land grabbing, corruption, among other things with a tinge of humour. Things go as far as a pink cow being relevant to the plot. Literally. Again, not Vishal's best but not Bollywood's worst either.
This film sounds like a winner on paper. A story inspired by Bollywood's stunt woman Fearless Nadia set against the backdrop of World War 2 and Subhash Chandra Bose's army insurgence - Rangoon could have been a delight. A lot went wrong with the film, the most significant being the main cast - Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut - not getting along with each other. AT ALL.
Maybe, Vishal should give this one a try again a few years down the line. If David Dhawan can remake Coolie No 1 and Judwaa, Vishal can surely make Rangoon again.
7 Khoon Maaf
Based on Ruskin Bond's novel Sussana's Seven Husbands, the movie featured Priyanka Chopra romancing and then killing six men one by one. It tells the story of how she finally finds love in her 7th husband.
The eccentric and dark movie did not find many takers. Anyway, women-centric movies have to struggle harder to make a mark. Priyanka's performance was mindblowing. Vishal's direction was bold and different. Darling remains a classic.
Vishal made this movie based on Othello with Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vivek Oberoi and Bipasha Basu in lead roles. Once again, the got the colours of a rustic Indian so spot on. Bipasha's "Beedi" song remains a party hit. We started to see Saif as a serious actor after this one.
After suffering from loss with Rangoon, the director set out to make a low-budget but quality film, Pataakha. He picked Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra to play the roles of their lifetime. He gambled on the relatively new actresses and it paid off. Fans loved them. The movie was based on a short story about two constantly bickering sisters. It is an analogy of India and Pakistan. The movie got the vibe of the village and the people spot on.
Shahid Kapoor's collaboration began with this film. Probably the closest Vishal has ever come to a popcorn film. Shahid played double roles - one brother has a lisp and the other stutters. He was fabulous. The colour palette of the film was beautiful. The songs are evergreen. Entertaining AF.
As we mentioned earlier, Vishal started off his career with a horror film for children. That is so rare in Bollywood. The movie features Shabana Azmi playing a chudail was stuff made of nightmares. The movie's Scooby-Doo kinda ending made it even better, somehow. Shweta Basu Prasad (The Tashkent Files) was a kid back then and carried the weight of the movie. Makdee is a scary, delightful watch that sets a benchmark for children's cinema in India. When was the last time you watched a well-made film for children in India?
Vishal also had to turn producer for Makdee, because original producers, Children's Film Society backed out of the project. He revealed in an interview, "When the rough cut of the film was submitted before [chairperson] Sai Paranjpe, we had a number of creative disputes. She objected to my film being shot like a modern-day thriller. She wanted me to spoonfeed young minds like a typical children's film of the country."
"I refuse to treats kids like idiots," he added. "In Makdee children are treated as mature people."
Based on Macbeth, the movie put Vishal on the map. It starred Tabu and Irrfan.
Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor, Irrfan, Kay Kay Menon featured in this blend of adaptation of Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet and Basharat Peer's memoir Curfewed Night. Vishal does so by setting the story in 1995 Kashmir -- conflicted, torn, tense but still beautiful. Visually stunning, emotionally moving, fiery, violent, bold and classy - it is a masterpiece in filmmaking.
Haider explored various themes. So much has been written about the subtle Oedipus Complex between Shahid and Tabu. Madness. Political satire. Love. Tragedy. And just so much. Despite the fact, that it explores so much, the movie is as far from masala films as possible. The movie was a tough one to make. Weather conditions had to be taken into consideration. The shoot was halted twice - once because students protested the shooting chanting 'pro-freedom' slogans and the second time when a Kashmiri threw coal at actors. So, you can imagine how tough it must have been to pull this off.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 04, 2020 10:36 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).