When it comes to the Hindi film industry, anyone who’s even remotely involved with it knows that times are changing. People know that films these days are not able to bank solely on the popularity of certain actors. Directors and Writers are finally being given a lot of importance and attention, in and out of the industry. And whenever people talk about the best film makers Bollywood has to offer in it’s current state, the most obvious answers usually are Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Vishal Bhardawaj, Imtiaz Ali and some more popular ones I won’t mention. I’m just going to talk about one film maker in Hindi Cinema who has been making films just as long as any of the ones I mentioned above, however, in spite of loving his films, his name doesn’t usually come up while discussing the best we have to offer. I’m talking about Shimit Amin.
I am a huge fan of this man. Simply because he has Directed only three films yet, however, each one of those three films have been marvelous examples of film making. In addition, all of them belong to different genres and styles of the craft.These Films are:
- Ab Tak Chhappan
- Chak De India
- Rocket Singh
‘Ab Tak Chhappan’ is easily one of the best cop dramas I’ve ever seen. The film is slick and stylistic while maintaining near impeccable realism. This is the film that saw Nana Patekar in one of his most honest performances. The reason this film stands out from other Hindi cop / crime dramas is that it doesn’t treat cops like superheroes. They’re shown as real individuals doing a job. And they don’t really think they’re always serving the country, merely doing what they’re told. And since a major theme of the film was the ‘encounter killing’ culture, especially in Mumbai cops managed to paint these characters in shades of grey as opposed to conventional portrayals of Bollywood cops who are either corrupt assholes or invincible heroes.
It was an important look at the community which protects us. The title of the film, which loosely translates to “56, so far”, is brilliant since it defines the underlying point of the film, i.e, the killing is going to continue, for better or for worse and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Shimit Amin started his Directorial (he also edited the film) career with Ab Tak Chhappan in 2004. He did not make his next till 2007 but when he did, it sort of turned things around in Bollywood.
What can I possibly say about ‘Chak De India’ that hasn’t already been said? It had an unconventional story, at least by popular Bollywood standards. We saw a beloved superstar known to play romantic heroes as a ruthless hockey coach who will go to any extent to see his team win. I’m not going to talk much about the film because everyone already knows and appreciates it, but there was one part of the film that I loved because I had never seen that in popular Hindi cinema ever. I’m talking about the portrayal of Shah Rukh Khan’s character. In the first half of the film, he is shown as a truly ruthless and unreasonable coach who is unwilling to show any sign of emotion to appease his team. I’m referring to one particular scene where during training, one girl in the passes out from exhaustion. If Bollywood cinema has taught me anything, it’s that if a girl falls, the hero runs and catches her in his embrace. But over here, he simply says and I’m translating it in English, “She’s just fainted, it’s not like she’s dead”. As a writer, I love it when a character is treated like a real person and not just a plot device who changes personalities as and when the audience needs to be pacified. This is a a great example of characterization and I have to credit the writer, Jaideep Sahni for this.
The third film in that list is ‘Rocket Singh: Salesman of the year’. This is one of the most under rated and under appreciated Bollywood films in recent history. The film tells the story of an average young man with an average sales job who goes on to create his own business. It is a brilliant drama / comedy that really shows us the struggle that goes behind making something great. I loved the fact that for once, following ones dreams is not romanticized in Bollywood. In fact, this film is more likely to make people reconsider going out on their own than rhetorically encourage them in films like ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, which, ironically, had the same actor – Ranbir Kapoor – playing the lead. I really hope more people end up watching this film because it is a really well made film with some great performances. So if you’re reading this, please check it out, you will not be disappointed. Like Chak De India, this film also had Jaideep Sahni as the writer.
Now I know that there are many more under appreciated Film Makers in our country than Shimit Amin. However, I really wanted to talk about him because it’s almost as if nobody ever mentions him while talking about the best, in spite of him making hugely popular films with some big stars. Also, he’s one of the few film makers who has an amazing ability of not being restricted to one style of film making while dealing with different subjects. And this will be obvious to anyone who has seen all three of these films. I don’t know when he’s going to make his next film, but I’m definitely waiting to see if his win streak continues.