I’m a rookie Film Maker. When you’re an artist, in any discipline, you look towards the masters in your field for inspiration because that’s the one place you can really learn from. Also, I mean, stop being a noob and study the classics already. So naturally, in this ongoing process of mine, I’ve tried to watch films by some of the most important and influential directors from around the world.
However, the one director who has had the most impact on me personally is Martin Scorsese (I’ll write a post later where I will elaborate why I’m taken by his films so immensely). Scorsese was part of a much larger group of Film Makers known as the ‘American New Wave’ or ‘New Hollywood’. They started out in the late 60’s and their effect on the largest film industry in the world was game changing. Other popular directors in this infamous group were Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Brian DePalma amongst others.
What was special about this movement was that it changed the way films were made in Hollywood. Not just in terms of content, but for the first time, the most important person on a film was the director and not the producer. In a way, these guys ‘made their own industry’ (A phrase coined by Scorsese) when they sensed that the system wasn’t going to let them grow the way they wanted to.
When you talk about any art form, it is usually understood that the ‘golden era’ has passed. For example, if I was a musician, I would kill to watch the ‘The Velvet Underground’ or ‘The Beatles’ live and the same if I was a comedian with ‘Richard Pryor’ or ‘George Carlin’. But I feel very privileged to have been born in India as a wannabe film maker at this point in time, since I can witness, what I like to call, ‘New Bollywood’, at its peak.
To me, Bollywood has changed greatly in the past few years, and I will credit this to a very specific set of directors. While I write this, I don’t mean to say other directors haven’t made great films in the past few years in Hindi Cinema, I’m just going to mention the three, who I think, have transformed this industry for good, which goes much further than just making a good film. And these three did just that, while maintaining a vague aura of a Bollywood film in all their works.
These three are, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, Vishal Bhardawaj, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee (In the following days, I will write one post on each of them, elaborating on their careers in detail). These three film makers have gone against the grain of what was considered to be conventional Bollywood and succeeded purely relying on their organic talent.
Each of them have managed to make some of the most important films of this century within Hindi cinema and some even beyond. And they did all of this from within the system, in one way or another.
Now, I know what other cinephiles must be thinking. There was already a solid movement in the 80’s consisting of a bunch of really good Indian Film Makers. However, they were always considered to be ‘Parallel’ to the main industry. I’m not saying that these guys did not make great films, I’m just saying that they did not transform the way the mainstream industry functioned. Which is a feat that the three I mentioned have achieved. In fact, each of them has had at least one protégé who went on to make great films of their own (I will elaborate on them in future posts) and at avery quick pace.
If one looks closely at the career timelines of these film makers and draws it with the progression of the Bollywood industry at large, the improvement is clear. These three have been instrumental to the current change in trend within Bollywood where the content is being given utmost importance, at least for most films. Even major studios have started to realize that their films CANNOT be solely star driven (‘Dilwale’ is an example. I’m not getting into the political angle).
While I say this, I don’t mean that the industry has lost all of its demerits. What I mean is that at least there is an ongoing movement which should be acknowledged. And I know that these days its become a sort of cliché to be a die hard fan of these Directors, but these guys are really great and I think they don’t really receive the credit they deserve and to quote Dante from ‘Clerks’, “Give Credit where Credit’s due”.
P.S – I did not go into intricate details with this one because I’m trying to keep every post under a certain word limit and I’m planning on writing individual posts on the contribution of these three Directors soon. Also because I’m writing this on my phone while travelling in a bus between two cities.