They come with their own, distinctive cinematic sensibilities. And they refuse to fit into the song-and-dance, maar-dhaar formula of quintessential Bollywood. Their films rarely have star casts. Even if they do, it’s rarely about the stars, but the movie itself. And interestingly enough, many of this fresh crop of directors trace their roots to small-town India.
Raised in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
* Claim to fame: Haasil (2003), Paan Singh Tomar (2010), Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (2011)
* Tracing roots: “When we come to the industry, our point of view is broader compared to a city-bred person. The reason being, we are more rooted to the reality that affects a large number of Indians. So we are raw and real in our approach,” says Tigmanshu.
* Making it: “Initially, the only thing that goes against us is how to go about putting together things, meeting people and finding our way. But it can only be an irritant at the start. Later, everything is sorted out,” he says.
* USP: “Attitude hum logon ka khatarnak hota hi hai (We have a very strong attitude).”
Born in Gorakhpur; grew up in several cities, including Varanasi, Saharanpur, and Obra. Did his early schooling in Dehradun and, age eight onwards, in Gwalior
* Claim to fame: Black Friday (2004), Dev.D (2009), Gulaal (2009), Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
* Tracing roots: “I’ve lived in small towns across India and I borrow much from there. I relate to it. For me, cinema that has mattered always has been real, even a big Hollywood movie,” Anurag has said in the past.
* Making it: “Hindi cinema throws away logic all the time; so comparatively, my films look real. Hindi films are very fake. My films might look real, but compared to other films, I’m still very filmi,” he has said.
* USP: “Realism is the main ingredient of cinema.”
Traces origins to Jamshedpur; early education in Patna and Ranchi
* Claim to fame: Jab We Met (2007), Love Aaj Kal (2009), Rockstar (2011)
* Tracing roots: “I feel like a vagabond as I move around in cities. When I was in Jamshedpur, I kept thinking this is my city. I studied in Delhi and I’m working in Mumbai. But are these my cities? I kept asking those questions,” Imtiaz has been quoted saying.
* Making it: “City life can be very impersonal. I like to make personal connections. In professional terms, since I hail from Jamshedpur, I did not have access to world cinema. When I came to Delhi and then Mumbai, I got exposed to it,” he says.
Raj Kumar Gupta
Born in Hazaribagh, did his schooling from Bokaro.
* Claim to fame: Aamir (2008), No One Killed Jessica (2011), Ghanchakkar (unreleased)
* Tracing roots: “When a small-town guy comes to a big city, he is always able to see things a bit differently because everything is new to him. So he ends up developing two different points of view that a city person will never have,” Raj Kumar says.
* Making it: “There’s no major disadvantage as such, but the only thing that could trouble us is the feeling that we don’t belong here. Otherwise, we have the passion to go all out without any kind of pressure,” he says.
* USP: “We are more open and curious about new things.”
Raised in Shrivardhan village, Raigad district, Maharashtra
* Claim to fame: The Munnabhai franchise (2003, 2006) and
3 Idiots (2009) as assistant director, Ferrari Ki Sawaari (2012) as director
* Tracing roots: “You get to know a completely different way of life in small towns. And the best thing is that we have access to both worlds, which puts us in a better position when it comes to capturing finer emotional nuances,” Rajesh says.
* Making it: “I remember not being very good with the English language (which is very important in many ways). Also, acceptance levels might not be very high and people might look at you as an outsider. Then it becomes a fight for your existence,” he says.
* USP: “A rich experience of both worlds aids the moviemaking experience.”
Raised in Patna before moving to Delhi
* Claim to fame: Sehar (2005), Hum Tum Aur Ghost (2010) and Maximum (2012)
* Tracing roots: “The Ganga-Jamuna culture I experienced is very different from what big city people go through. It enables you to bring in finer nuances to the way you approach a scene or etch out characters,” says Kabeer.
* Making it: “I don’t see it as a disadvantage. Yes, your approach is more grey and not black and white,” he says.
* USP: “The kind of broad and real experience we come with is incomparable.”
Born in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh; did a bit of schooling in Ranchi
* Claim to fame: Ishqiya (2010), Dedh Ishqiya (unreleased)
* Tracing roots: “It helps when you are making films about
that particular milieu. It surely helped when I made Ishqiya. Nonetheless, I’m a professional filmmaker and my job is to tell stories. In the longer run, that advantage will cease to exist because you can’t keep making films on the same background,” says Abhishek.
* Making it: “Forget small towners, anyone from outside the industry will find things difficult in big towns. Yes, it’s an uphill task, but there’s no other way,” he says.
* USP: “We are putting the real India on the movie map rather than following a very filmy idea.”