Why have some iconic directors lost their spark?

We look into the career graphs of some directors who aced the craft in the past but seem to be losing their touch now

Practice makes perfect. And these directors have practised their art, retaining a distinctive trademark in their chosen genres for years now. But apart from a few like David Dhawan, who continues adapting his trademark style to suit changing tastes, others haven’t had much success with staying the same. Read on to know why a change is long overdue…

David Dhawan

He is fond of saying he has survived for so long because he is constantly learning and imbibing the needs, tastes and requirements of coming generations. Stagnancy is death for a creative artiste.

Madhur Bhandarkar

Made a disastrous start with a formulistic farce called Trishakti. He found his métier with Chandni Bar and went on to re-write the language of commercial Hindi cinema for an adult audience with Page 3 and Fashion. But then Bhandarkar got stuck in a single groove. He made Corporate, which showed us that the formula of drawing inspiration from real life can only last for so long. Heroine was nothing but Fashion relocated from the modelling to the movie world. His attempt at sex comedy in Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji felt flat and fell flat. Madhur’s next is Calendar Girls which apparently would have “12 hot newcomers” telling their story of exploitation and redemption. Errrr…Fashion 3?

Ram Gopal Varma

He changed the face of horror and gangsterism in Indian cinema with Raat and Satya. And then his horror films became horrific in an unexpected way and the underworld films began to threaten all aesthetic consideration. Flop after flop after flop made no difference to Ramu. He continued to plunder the fertile fields of filmmaking that he had so confidently ploughed. Finally, good sense prevailed. Ramu has taken a break. He has gone back to his home town Hyderabad to rediscover his roots. We will wait for his recovery and return.

Prakash Jha

Once was the wizard of raj-tantra. What went wrong? After giving political cinema in India commercial sanction in Gangaajal, Apaharan and Raajneeti, Prakash has to his discredit three films that were expected to be game changers. Alas, Aarakshan, Chakravyuha and Satyagraha were bitterly disappointing. Prakash is now writing a gritty cop drama, hopefully without his signature stamp of mobs rushing for revenge and fleets of government cars speeding down at rush hour. The Ambassador car is dead. So are the governmental conclaves on the roads. Reinvention needed!

Sajid Khan

Sajid’s forte was farcical laughter aimed at everyday quirks. His comedy is broad, really broad. But now it’s become stubbornly rigid and repetitive. He began his career with three major hits (Heyy Babyy, Housefull and Housefull 2) but now after Himmatwala and Humshakals, this exuberant over-confident teller of comic stories needs to know that audiences are no longer tickled by the funny-broom that he uses to sweep all logic under the table. He needs to upgrade the humour. He needs to make audiences laugh again. He has it in him. If he has done it thrice, he can do it again.

Subhash Ghai

The Showman is now facing rejection from mass audiences. Ghai once made Hero, Saudagar and Ram Lakhan. His script sense was somewhat shaky. But what carried his tales to boxoffice glory were the towering actors and the wonderful dialogues. Now, after Kisna and Kaanchi he needs to work with a young dynamic team — the way Yash Chopra did ­­— to remain 24 till he dies.

Sudhir Mishra

He has made 11 films. All deal with politics and crime of the Indian middleclass. The dark brooding cynical style of storytelling has not changed over the years. Of these only three of Sudhir’s films have made money. His last film Inkaar about sexual harassment at work places was found to be shaky by many critics. Sudhir needs to do some soul-searching.The raw realism if his cinema needs serious upgrading.

Vishal Bhardwaj

Once Vishal made Omkara and Maqbool.. The style was stunningly original and fearless. Even Kaminey has it’s critics. However his recent films show a smug over-confidence bordering on self-indulgence. This trendsetting director’s last two films Saat Khoon Maaf and Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola were damp squibs. Maybe Vishal needs to look within himself to see where the guttural storytelling needs to be updated.