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Debut directors, make some noise: 2018 will see top actors teaming up with new directors, yet again

Debutants made a splash in the pat year. Now, they are working with the top names.

bollywood Updated: Jan 15, 2018 12:05 IST
Actor Saif Ali Khan in a still from Kaalakaandi.

Gone are the days when actors would prefer to team up with their favourite directors, usually established names, over and over again. With evolving audience tastes and content overriding everything else, actors are keen to work with first-time directors. The year 2017 saw some of the best films churned out by debutant directors — Avinash Das (Anaarkali of Aarah), Konkona Sen Sharma (A Death in the Gunj), Ravi Udyawar (Mom), Suresh Triveni (Tumhari Sulu), and Advait Chandan (Secret Superstar). The year 2018 is very well taking the trend forward, with the top names teaming up with new directors.

The January 12 release, Kaalakaandi, starring Saif Ali Khan, has been directed by debutant Akshat Verma, better known as the writer of Delhi Belly (2011), and this film has been getting high praise from the word go. The coming months will see Anushka Sharma being directed by Prosit Roy in Pari; Rajkummar Rao and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan working with Atul Majrekar in Fanne Khan; and Nawazuddin Siddiqui teaming up with Pushpendra Misra in Ghoomketu, among others.

So, what really prompts actors to move away from the beaten track and experiment with fresh talent? Is it a need to reinvent themselves or the excitement of doing something new?

ACTORS SPEAK THEIR MIND

Most actors vouch for the ‘freshness’ and ‘experimentation’ that new directors come with. Stating that it’s “exciting” to work with a first-time director, Saif says, “They bring a lot of magic to the field. You get dated as a director and, after a point, we see some directors making the same kind of films or taking the shots in the same way.”

Richa Chadha, who is working with two debutant directors this year — Arjun Mukherjee in 3 Storeys, and Tabrez Norani in Love Sonia — points out how there have been many filmmakers whose first films are their best work. But she is not sure if creativity is the only factor in top stars saying yes to new directors. “I see few actors doing it for a genuine love of their craft. So I don’t know the motivation behind it, but am glad the industry as a whole is taking some risks,” she states.

Vodka Diaries stars actors Mandira Bedi and Kay Kay Menon with debut director Kushal Srivastava (center).

Mandira Bedi, who has been directed by debutant Kushal Srivastava in Vodka Diaries, tells us that actors often get to do more with a new director. She says, “New directors come with a certain type of hunger that it’s their time to prove [their talent]. Though they know exactly what they want, they give a free hand to actors to make the best out of a scene.”

Some actors believe that it might be a risk working with new names, but it’s definitely worth it. For actor Shweta Tripathi, who has worked with debutants in the past — Neeraj Ghaywan in Masaan, and Shlok Sharma in Haraamkhor — and whose next film, Cargo, is also being directed by debutant Arati Kadav, the energy of new directors is very “inspiring and motivating”. She says, “I think all actors should take risks, no matter where they are in their careers. They will not only surprise the audiences but also themselves.”

DIRECTORS MAKE A POINT

The fact that 2017 proved to be a year of content-driven films made on smaller budgets may be the reason, filmmakers feel, that big stars are not choosing only hardcore commercial projects anymore. This shift is making it easier for new directors to shine.

Talking about his black comedy, Kaalakaandi, Akshat explains, “People are willing to bet more on stories and it’s no longer about working with a big director or a new one. Actors are tired of working on the same old, done-to-death stories and want fresh plots.”

Kolkata ❤️🙏

A post shared by Samir Soni (@samirsoni123) on

Actor Samir Soni, whose directorial debut, My Birthday Song, releases soon, feels that the old thought process and sensibilities are going away. “It’s like passing the baton. India is a younger nation and even the stars are realising the importance of being in touch with what’s out there. They are looking for that freshness,” he says.

Kushal Srivastava feels that the industry is no longer averse to the idea of welcoming fresh talent. “If you go to actors well prepared and with proper homework, everybody welcomes you,” he says. “They’re all looking to experiment and if they’re successful in it, they don’t mind working with first-timers.”

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First Published: Jan 15, 2018 12:05 IST