In the world cinema if a movie represents a ship then the director certainly is its captain. It is for this very reason that a presence of a good director is an absolute must for the success of any movie. So with the director’s role being so critical I have decided to undertake a difficult task to enlist my all time top 10 directors in  Indian cinema. This illustrious list includes:

1. Mani Ratnam:

When an Indian movie manages to touch your heart in a most profound way then it usually means that the movie has been directed by a genius called Mani Ratnam. Such is the mastery over his craft by this genius from Chennai that not only does his movies touch your heart but it also shows us the true dilemmas that humans face with a realistic setting as the backdrop. So be it Roja, Bombay, Nayagan, Alai Payuthey etc most of his movies deals with a human story with a wide range of emotions which is what makes his movies truly engaging to watch. What is also quite noticeable in his movies is the fact that he is able to extract some fine performances from his lead actors so from brilliant performance by the master Kamal Hassan in Nayagan to a great performance by Abhisheik Bachchan he certainly has a knack of bringing the best out of them. Also of great significance is his great sense in music so be it the genius of Illaiyaraaja or the mastery of AR Rahman all his movies have great music which not only entertains you but also takes the story forward. So all in all one of the few masterful directors that India has produced and hope he continues to produce masterpieces in the near future as well.

Top 10 Movies in Hindi Cinema based on Politics

2. Shyam Benegal:

Ever since India obtained its freedom she has been plagued with many social issues and if there has ever been any director that has captured these issues aesthetically then it has to be the great Shyam Benegal. With wide range of social issues ranging from prostitution to the White revolution in India he covered them all and that too with great dignity. He was also the director to have pioneered the parallel cinema movement in Indian cinema which began during the early seventies. He also happened to be a director to not only introduce some of India’s finest actors but also extract some magnificent performances from them. So be it Nasseruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi or Smita Patil all of them managed to produce their best work with him. So with about 14 national awards to his credit and numerous other accolades Shyam Benegal is certainly one of India’s finest directors and one can only hope he continues to make more masterpieces in years to come.

3. Govind Nihalani:

Yet another director who was an integral part of the parallel cinema movement that was started by the great Shyam Benegal in the early seventies. Interestingly Govind began his career as a cinematographer in most of Shyam Benegal’s early films. He also happened to be the cinematographer of the Richard Attenborough’s Oscar winning classic Gandhi. With Aakrosh starring the great Om Puri and Smita Patil marking his debut as director and which dealt with exploitation of underprivileged in India he went on to become renowned for his realistic portrayal of the social fabric of India. He also went to direct Ardhsatya what is considered a true masterpiece of Indian cinema. He also brought out the best in Om Puri who is portrayal as a honest cop in Ardhsatya is considered as one of the finest performances to be seen in Indian cinema. What also stands out in most of movies is the fact that the essence of the story is quite beautifully captured through camera. So just like his mentor Shyam Benegal he will also be remembered as a one of the finest directors India as ever produced.

4. Sudhir Mishra:

An FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) alumni and a director par excellence and one who is certainly in my books one of India’s finest directors. Just like many directors of his time he too made movies revolving around prevalent social problems in the Indian society. So be it the grave issue of Naxalism in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi or social issues prevalent in Dharavi India’s largest slum he handled them with a lot dignity these issues deserved. What also stands out in his movies is the fact that he encourages new talents in most of his movies so be it Shiney Ahuja, Chitrangada Singh or Kay Kay Menon he has encouraged them all. Another striking feature in most of his movies is the fact that his woman characters are strong personalities and not submissive as shown in many Hindi movies. As for the future one can only hope that the brilliance of Sudhir Mishra continues to capture the imagination of cinema lovers all over India.

5. P. Padmarajan:

Although many in India would not be aware of the genius of Padmarajan due to the fact that he belongs to the Malayalam movie industry but I do believe he certainly is one of finest directors to have been born in India.  He had this great ability of writing a very detailed and lucid screenplay along with a great visual sense. Often his movies dealt with complex human stories. So be it Thoovanathumbikal which deals with a man falling in love with two woman or Moonam Pakkam which deals with a terrible tragedy of a man losing his only grandson through an unfortunate accident he dealt with such complex issues not only with dignity but with simplicity. What also stood out in his movies was his intelligent use of great background music which only added to the charm of his movies. So although he is no more with us one can only hope that his movies will continue to live in minds of all his fans all over India especially the southern part of India.

6. Prakash Jha:

This brilliant director basically began his career as a documentary director and finally when he did make the transition to feature films he was just as brilliant. He is one of the few directors in India with great knowledge of the socio-political situation prevalent in the country. The one striking feature of his movies is that most of stories are based in Bihar since he belongs to the part of India. Also what makes him special is his unique ability to talk about sensitive political issues in a realistic manner so be it the Bhagalpur blinding’s issue in Gangaajal or the business of kidnapping in Apaharan he captured these stories with aplomb. So with his latest movie Chakravyuh also pertaining to a sensitive political issue of Naxalism we can only hope he can continues to make movies on realistic and sensitive issues which can be continued to be enjoyed by cinema lovers all over the country in the future as well.

7. Anurag Kashyap:

They say there comes a time in life that change is required and this is what exactly Anurag Kashyap represents, a refreshing change in Indian cinema. He has definitely come at a time when Indian cinema definitely required a drastic change especially with regards to stories that needed to be told. What really stands out about Anurag is the fact is that he is willing to experiment with the stories that he wants to tell without really worrying about the commercial success or failure which is indeed very rare in an industry obsessed with economics. So starting from the cult classic Black Friday to his recent gangland classic Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1 and 2 he has certainly stamped his own refreshing style of film making that has certainly made an impact on especially the young audiences all over the country. So after a long struggle in finding his space in a star driven industry all one can say is that Anurag has definitely arrived and hopefully his movie making continues to engage the audiences especially the youth in the future as well.

8.  Vishal Bhardwaj:

A director that can easily be called the cinematic version of “Shakespeare in India” what with is two masterpieces Maqbool and Omkara being based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Othello. One of the most unique features of this director is his great ability to capture real human emotions quite beautifully through not only direction but also some great writing. Also the fact that he is able to extract some great performances from his cast like Saif Ali Khan in Othello or Pankaj Kapur in Maqbool are clear examples of his great directing skills. What also makes this director unique is that being a music director himself the music in his movies are mostly of the highest quality and certainly adds flavor to his movies. All in all a great director with great sense of storytelling and, one can only hope for more from this cinematic version of Shakespeare who answer’s by the name of VISHAL BHARDWAJ.

9. Dibakar Banerjee:

They say that being different especially in the industry as rigid as the Hindi movie industry is not only difficult but next to impossible but, Dibakar Banerjee has definitely proved to be exception to this rule. What really stands out in his movies is the fact that his story telling does not follow the normal Hindi movie format and is extremely unpredictable. Also the fact that he has not only the courage but also the vision to cast actors who are not stars and yet make a great movie which is definitely unique in the Hindi movie industry. His style of direction also reflects the fact that being different is fine as long as the story is understood by the audiences. So with a younger and more restless generation on the rise one can only hope that Dibakar continues with his unique style of storytelling in future as well.

10. Ram Gopal Varma:

The word “Maverick” was essentially made famous by Tom Cruise’s most famous character in the classic Top Gun but, it is Indian director Ram Gopal Varma that gives this word a totally whole new meaning. For one even though he has great ability to make an all time classic like Satya yet at the same time he makes an horrible movie called Ramgopal Varma ki Aag which was supposed to be a remake of the classic Sholay. Although in last few years he has not been at his best but it is this unpredictability that makes him an interesting director. That is the reason why you see such variation in the standard of his movie over the years. What is also interesting is his use of different camera angles in most of his movies especially of note was the use of the camera in his 2003 movie Bhoot which was exceptional to say the least. So even though the last few years has not seen the best of Ram Gopal Varma one can only hope that in the near future we shall see the best of this “MAVERICK” Indian director.

So with the illustrious list of my favorite directors in the Indian cinema done and dusted I can only hope that I have done full justice to all directors mentioned in the list above.  So here is presenting my list and hoping all my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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In the world cinema if a movie represents a ship then the director certainly is its captain. It is for this very reason that a presence of a good director is an absolute must for the success of any movie. So with the director’s role being so critical I...