Commercial cinema, starring big stars of the industry, continues to dominate the box office. However, in the last 10 years, a slew of talented actors and directors have also made their mark with offbeat projects. We list 10 such actors and directors, who can be called the ‘discoveries of the decade’.
She started her acting career in Bollywood with Anurag Kashyap’s critically acclaimed film, Dev.D (2009). Her choice of movies like That Girl In Yellow Boots (2010) and Shaitaan (2011) makes her one of the most versatile talents in the industry today.
"Kalki gets into the skin of her characters. She has her own space here," says Raj Nidumoru, who directed Kalki in Happy Ending (2014).
She made her debut with director Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008), and went on to deliver stellar performances in Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012), Fukrey (2013) and Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013). Her latest release, directed by Neeraj Ghyawan, has earned her accolades at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival too.
"Since the time of Gangs Of Wasseypur, I knew that she was here to stay. She chooses her roles carefully, and is walking in the right direction. I have presented her with an award too, and said that she is a legend in the making," says Manoj Bajpayee, who has worked with her in the film.
He made his debut with LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010), and went on to become one of the most sought-after actors. He also garnered critical appreciation for his roles in films such as Shahid (2012), Kai Po Che (2013) and CityLights (2014).
"Rajkummar is a noble soul, and he is very passionate about his craft. He takes time to choose his characters, and portrays them passionately. He is not imprisoned by his image. He is only a prisoner of his passion," says Hansal Mehta, who directed him in Shahid and CityLights.
His brand of love stories, including Socha Na Tha (2005), Jab We Met (2007) and Rockstar (2011), has resulted in his huge fan following across all ages. His film with Alia Bhatt, Highway (2014), also earned him critical acclaim.
"Imtiaz understands today’s generation. He feels their pulse, and that’s thereason why his films connect with the audience. He has a great future," says Krishika Lulla, who was the co-producer of his 2009 film, Love Aaj Kal.
Neeraj's latest film Baby was a hit at the box office.
He made his directorial debut with A Wednesday (2008), and went on to deliver hits like Special 26 (2013) and Baby. His realistic approach in films makes him one of the prominent faces of new-wave cinema.
"He does not make changes to his scripts on the sets. He is extremely prepared while making a film, and that’s one of the reasons why his movies always attract attention," says Anupam Kher, who has worked with him in all his films so far.
He made his debut with Khosla Ka Ghosla! (2006), and made several unconventional films including Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008), Love Sex Aur Dhoka, Shanghai (2012) and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!.
"He is not afraid to take risks, and is constantly coming up with different genres. He could have made a sequel to Khosla Ka Ghosla, buthe backed himself to create something as fresh year after year," says exhibitor-distributor, Akshaye Rathi.
He made his directorial debut with Yahaan in 2005. After a seven-year-break, he came up with his next, Vicky Donor (2012). The film proved that content is king, as it achieved success despite starring newcomers, Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam. He also made two other content-driven films — Madras Cafe (2013) and Piku.
"People think that only stars can make a film big. But Vicky Donor changed that perception. His films present new ideas, and the audience enjoys his work," says Krishika Lulla, producer of Vicky Donor.
She rose to fame with Gangs Of Wasseypur (GOW; 2012), and could possibly be called one of the faces (female) of new-wave cinema.
"Her theatre experience has chiseled her craft. I really want her to do as many films as possible as she is somebody who will always have something fresh to offer," says Manoj Bajpayee, who worked with her in GOW.
The filmmaker's Chillar Party (2011) bagged three National Awards. Post the success of the film, he directed Queen (2014), which was a commercial success, and garnered critical acclaim.
"He started off as a co-director with Nitesh Tiwari's Chillar Party. This children's film caught everyone’s attention when remakes of south Indian films and action movies were doing well. With Queen, he revamped the way women were portrayed in Hindi cinema," says film exhibitor, Akshaye Rathi.
He got Amitabh Bachchan to romance Tabu in his debut film, Cheeni Kum (2007), and then had Bachchan play the character of a 12-year-old suffering from a rare genetic disorder, progeria, in Paa (2009). His latest release, Shamitabh, also dealt with an offbeat subject.
"He comes from the advertising world, where one tends to keep coming up with fresh concepts. Balki’s films reflect newness, and that’s why people like them. I am sure he will continue to make good films," says trade expert Vinod Mirani.