June 24, 2010

Living on the Edge- Karan Johar

Very interesting read!

It gets my goat when people grumble about there being a dearth of talent in the film industry today. Maybe they live in caves, because the industry is overflowing with talented people who are doling out cutting edge work, people whose bold choices are being noticed and accepted today. Here’s my top ten list of cutting edge personalities to come out of the industry.

1. Dibakar Banerjee: Dibakar Banerjee’s genius stems from the fact that he doesn’t try to impress you, yet his films are so impressive. His strength as a director is directly related to his talent as a screenplay writer. His stories are interesting because his humour is organic and observational. With LSD, Dibakar does what few filmmakers dare to do; expose stories through a form of voyeurism that is creepy but true, adulterated, scintillating, and thoughtful. He knows how to provoke you and humour you with seemingly effortlessness.

2. Abhay Deol: There is a whole section of the urban audience who think Abhay Deol is a demi god, someone who refuses to conform to industry norms and regulations. He is experimental, quirky, intense, witty, and more importantly, doesn’t really care what you think of him. His performances speak for him, and it’s safe to say he isn’t capable of giving a bad one. A young producer in the making, Abhay had already learnt how to balance his films so that he’s doing a little of everything, without ever seeming burdened. His performance in Dev D may have reached cult status, but it’s Manorama Six Feet Under and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! that show his range.

3. Vishal Bhardwaj : Vishal’s adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays resulted in Maqbool and Omkara, cinematic masterpieces both. While some in the industry felt he lacked originality, what people fail to notice is how wonderfully and organically he adapts masterpieces to fit our times, culture, and politics. Vishal has a great visual vocabulary, not to mention a remarkable ear for music. His compositions, both musically and cinematically are earthy and deep. Not one to try to wow you with accessories, Vishal focuses more on having fun with structure, narrative, and inspires actors to deliver career changing performances.

4. Imtiaz Ali: Imtiaz’s films delicately balance new age perspective in storytelling with all the requirements of commercial cinema. Imtiaz’s strengths lie in his ability to nab dialogue where it sounds conversational, and his observation of the smaller, simpler moments that make up romance. His films have gotten bigger in scale, but his characters have remained rooted and sincere. In Imtiaz lies the soul of a romantic with a lot to share.

5. Deepa Bhatia: In an industry, which prefers to work with just an operator while they call all the cuts, Deepa provides an invaluable perspective as an editor. Intelligent, keenly observant, brutally honest and instinctive, Deepa finds the essence of a film through hours and hours of footage, and oftentimes gives the story a structure and soul that even the director might not have seen. Her work on Taare Zameen Par, Rock On!, and of course, My Name is Khan illustrate her exemplary sensibilities as an editor but more importantly, as someone who can create magic on the edit table.

6. Anurag Kashyap: Anurag has gone from being an underdog to being a filmmaker with a strong and powerful bark that makes people take notice. He has a dark streak that he channels beautifully through his films. Dev D is an example of how seamlessly he is able to take a story that has already been explored and give it a modern day interpretation. As a producer too, Anurag takes bold leaps. Never predictable, and always brutally honest, this filmmaker has found a solid foothold in an industry that often scowls at change.

7. Amit Trivedi: Two of Amit’s most widely known contributions to Indian film music are Emotional Attyachar from Dev D, and the soulful Iktara from Wake Up Sid! Two starkly different melodies, from different worlds of music, coming out of the same man, speaks volumes of this musical prodigy. Amit’s sensibilities are classic but his presentation is modern, making his sound an ideal bridge between younger and older audiences.

8. Zoya Akhtar: The challenges Zoya faced to get her first film made is no secret, but with perseverance and faith in her abilities as a filmmaker, Zoya gave the industry Luck By Chance, a first film that didn’t feel like one. Confident, exuberant and supremely talented, Zoya extracted wonderful performances from her equally talented actors, and proved with no uncertainty that she is a filmmaker to keep watching.

9. Prateik Babbar: He made his debut in a film where all his co-stars were playing bubbly and energetic college kids, while he played an introverted young artist, doling out sage advice without even realising it. With a joint perched behind his ear, his quiet performance made everyone sit up and take notice. It’s hard not to think of his mother, the beautiful and remarkably talented Smita Patil when you watch him, but Prateik holds his own on screen, to the point where it’s hard to look at anything but him in a scene. His career has only just begun, but he’s definitely on the right trajectory.

10. Aamir Khan: You can’t have a conversation about cutting edge filmmakers without including Aamir Khan. It’s refreshing to see that he has parlayed his skills and talents towards being a successful and avant garde producer. With films like Peepli Live, Dhobi Ghat, and Delly Belly all promising something new, something untold before, he remains a true visionary, a glowing example of the kind of education that can be achieved by making the industry your institution.