Someone commented on one of my Facebook posts on Bollywood, saying that it was dynastic. I wanted tell him and others, it is just the opposite. For me the director is the true creator of any film. And it is here that Bollywood has changed significantly in recent times. The talent pool has widened beyond your imagination.
People like Sooraj Barjatya, Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Rakesh Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar are there. But there are a whole bunch of people with non-film background directing Bollywood film today. Among them are people ranging from a NASA scientists from IIT, a Deloitte consultant and a London-based Chartered Accountant to a video cassette shop owner to a seller of chewing gum at traffic signals.
Let me first take up the directors of five of the biggest worldwide grossers ever in Hindi cinema: PK ( 792cr), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (626cr) and Dhoom 3 ( 542cr), Chennai Express ( 422cr) and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (399cr) . Then I will talk of directors of all significant films in the last 20 years or so.
( People with close Bollywood connection have been marked with asterisk.)
THE TOP FIVE
Rajkumar Hirani ( PK, 3 Idiots, Munnabhai) : Nagpur. Sindhi family. Father ran a typing institute. FTII Grad.
Kabir Khan ( Bajrangi Bhaijan, Ek Tha Tiger, New York): Father one of the founders of JNU. Kirori Mal College and Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
Vijay Krishna Acharya ( Dhoom 3, Tashan): Schooling in Kanpur. Eng Lit Grad from Kirori Mal College, Delhi
*Rohit Shetty ( Chennai Express, Dilwale, Golmaal, Singham, Bol Bachchan) : Mumbai. Father, Shetty, Bollywood fight master.
*Sooraj Barjatya ( Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Huma aapke hain Koun..?, Maine Pyar Kiya, Vivah): Mumbai. Marwari family. Grandpa Tarachand Barjatya, founder of Barjatya Films
OTHERS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
Abbas Mustan ( Khiladi, Baazigar, Ajnabi, Humraaz, Race): Abbas and Mustan Burmawalla from Surat, Gujarat. Family in furniture business.
Abbas Tyrewala ( Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Jhootha Hi Sahi) : Mumbai. Ogilvy PR
*Abhinav Deo ( Game, Delhi Belly): Mumbai. Son of actors Ramesh Deo and Seema Deo
Abhinav Kashyap ( Dabang, Besharam) : Born in Obra, UP. Father DGM in Obra Thermal Power Station. Scindia School, Gwalior, English Hons from Hansraj College, Delhi
Abhishek Varman ( 2 States):
Abhishek Chaubey ( Ishqiya, Dedh Ishqiya, Udta Punjab): Faizabad Up, Schooling in Ranchi. Eng. Lit from Hindu College, Delhi
*Aditya Chopra ( Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, Mohabbatein, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi):Mumbai. Son of producer Yash Chopra
Ali Abbas Zafar ( Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Gunday, Sultan): Dehradun, Kirorimal College, Delhi
Amol Gupte ( Stanley Ka Dabba, Hwa Hawai): Mumbai. Narsing Monjee College of Commerce and Economics. Professional painter.
Anand Gandhi ( Ship of Theseus): Mumbai. Scoll drop out. Writing TV Serials since 19
Anand L Rai ( Tanu Weds Manu, Raanjhna) : Sindhi. Born and brought up in Delhi. Engineering from Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Anees Bazmi ( Deewangee, No Entry, Welcome, Singh Is King) : Started as dialogue writer
Anil Sharma ( Gadar Ek Prem Katha, Shrdhanjali, Hukumat, Elan-e-Jung) : Born in Mathura. Priest’s family.
Anthony D’Souza ( Blue, Boss):
Anu Menon ( London Paris New York, Waiting):
Anup Singh (Qissa, The Song of Scorpions):
Anurag Basu (Murder, Gangster, Life in a Mtro, Barfi): Bhilai. BSc Physics from Mumbai
Anurag Kashyap ( Gangs of Wasseypur, Dev D, Black Friday):Born in Gorakhpur, Father DGM in Obra Thermal Power Station. Schooling in Dehradun and Scindia School, Gwalior. Hansraj College, Delhi
Anusha Rizvi, Mahmood Farooqui ( Peepli (Live): Anusha: Graduate in history from St Stephens. Journalism. Married to Mahmood Farooqui. Mahmood: Schooling from The Doon School.History at St. Stephen’s College. Rhodes Scholarship to read History at St. Peter’s College, Oxford. Along with his uncle, noted Urdu poet and literary critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, have played significant role in the revival of a form of storytelling known as Dastangoi.
AR Murugadoss ( Ghajni, Holiday) : Born in Kallakurichi, Tamil Nadu. School and college in Tiruchirapalli
Ashutosh Gowarikar ( Lagaan, Swades, Jdha Akbar): Kolhapur
Ashwini Iyer Tiwari ( Nil Batte Sannatta) :
*Ayan Mukherjee ( Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Wake Up Sid): Born in Kolkta, Father: Actor Deb Mukherjee
Bedabrata Pain( Chittagong): Kolkata. IIT Kharagpur, Columbia University. Worked at Jet Propulsion Lab of CalTech.
Bijoy Nambiar ( Shiatan, David, Wazir): Born in Kochi. Grew in Mumbai.
Chandan Arora (Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon, Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh, Striker)
David Dhawan ( Aankhein, Coolie No 1, Deewana Mastana, Biwi No 1, Mujhse Shadi Karoge, Partner): Born in Agartala. Brought up in Kanpur. Father in UCO Bank. FTII after Calss XII
*Dharmesh Darshan ( Raja Hindustani, Mela, Dhadkan) : Dharmesh was born Dharmesh Sabharwal, the son of film producer Darshan Sabharwal. Mother Sheila: Elder sister of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt
Dibakar Banerjee ( Khosla Ka Ghisla, Love Sex aur Dhoka, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, Oye Lucky Oye): Karol Bagh Delhi, NID Ahmedabad ( drop out)
*Farah Khan (Happy New Year, Om Shanti Om, Main Hoon Na) : Mumbai. Father – small time actor Kamran Khan. Mother is the sister of Honey Irani, child actor and screenwriter
Farhad-Sajid ( It’s Entertainment, Houseful 3): Started out as screenplay writers
*Farhan Akhtar ( Dil Chahta Hai, Don, Lakshya): Mumbai. Father: Scriptwriter and poet Javed Akhtar. Mother : Child actor and scriptwriter Honey Irani.
Gauri Shinde ( English Vinglish) Born and brought up in Pune. Symbiosis.
Gulzar ( Aandhi, Parichay, Koshish, Kinara, Mausam, Khushboo, Angoor, Maachis, Hu TuTu): Kalra Arora Sikh family, In Dina, Jhelum district ( now in Pakidtan). Worked in an auto garage in Mumbai
Habib Faisal ( Do Dooni Char, Ishaqzade, Dawat-e-Ishq) : Born in Mumbai. Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
Hansal Mehta ( Shahid, Citylights, Aligarh): Mumbai
Harshvardhan Kulkarni ( Hunterr) : Son of award winning Kannada poet littérateur Dr.Jeevi Kulkarni. Graduated with a degree in Petro-chemical engineering.
Homi Adjania ( Being Cyrus, Cocktail, Finding Fanny): Father: Soldier and the president of the Indian Boxing Federation. Winner for the Bombay Gymkhana rugby team in Mumbai. A certified CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques) dive instructor, and used to teach in the Lakshadweep islands.
Imtiaz Ali ( Tamasha, Rockstar, Hihway, Jab We Met): Jmashedpur and Patna. Hindu College, Delhi. Xavier Inst of Communication, Mumbai
*Indra Kumar ( Dil, Beta, raja, ishq, Mann, Ready, Grand Masti): Brother of Aruna Irani
*JP Dutta ( Ghulam, Hathyar, Yateem, Border) : Son of director-screenwriter OP Dutta
*Karan Johar ( Kuchh Kucch Hota Hai, Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham, My Name Is Khan, Student of the Year) : Mumbai. Son of producer Yash Johar
Karan Malhotra ( Agneepath, Brothers): Mumbai
Ketan Mehta ( Bhavni Bhavai, Mirch Masala, Mangal pandey, Maanjhi- The Mountain Man): Nephew of Gandhian and freedom fighter, Usha Mehta. His younger brother, Dr. Yatin Mehta, is Chairman of Medanta, Gurgaon, youngest brother is Dr. Nirad Mehta, Consultant Radiologist at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai
Kiran Rao ( Dhobi Ghat): Wife of actor Aamir Khan
Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru ( Raj & DK)( Shor in the City, Go Goa Gone, Happy Ending): Indian technocrats based in the US.
Kunal Deshmukh ( Jannat, Tum Mile, Raja Natwarlal) : Bandra, Mumbai . Advertising course at H.R. College. Short diploma course on filmmaking in US.
Kunal Kohli ( Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Hum tum, Fanaa, Break Ke Baad)
Kundan Shah ( Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na, Kya Kehna): FTII
Madhur Bhandarkar ( Chandni Bar, Page 3, Fashion, Traffic Signal): School drop-out. Odd jobs. Worked at a video store as an errand boy and dropped off cassettes to people from many walks of life including dance bar girls and film stars. He also sold chewing gum at traffic signals.
* Mahesh Bhatt: (Arth, Saaransh, Naam, Sadak, Janam, Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin,
Mahesh Manjrekar ( Vaastav, Astitva, Kurukshetra): Mumbai
Maneesh Shrama ( Band Bajaa Barrat, Shuddh Desi Romance, Fan) : Delhi, DPS Public School, RK Puram, Hans raj College, Delhi. Film School in California – CalArts.
*Mani Ratnam ( Roja, Bombay, Guru, Yuva, Raavan) : Chennai, Father Gopala Ratnam a film distributor, uncle film producer. MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj. Started career as a consultant.
* Mansoor Khan ( Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Jo Jeeta wohi Sikandar, Akele Hum Akele Tum) Son of producer Nasir Husain. Engineer from IITB. Currently ,lives in Coonoor, doing organic farming.
Milan Luthria ( Kachche Dhage, Taxi No 9211, Once Upon A Time in Mumbai, The Dirty Picture): Son of Arjun Luthria , brother of actor Sudhir.
Mohit Suri ( Zeher, Kalyug, Raaz 2, Aashiqui2, Ek Villain) : Mumbai. Mother Airhostess, sister of Mahesh Bhatt. Father in Dunlop, Chennai.
Nagesh Kukunoor ( Hyderabad Blues, Rockford, Teen Deewarein, Dor, Iqbal, Dhanak): Hyderbad. Chemical engineer. BTech from Osmania, MTech from Georgia.
Navdeep Singh ( Manorma Six Feet Under, NH 10): Delhi. Army Officer father. Studied film-making at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena
Neeraj Ghaywan ( Masaan) : Hyderabd. Engineering from CBIT, Hyderabad, MBA from Symbiosis.
Neeraj Pandey ( A Wednesday, Special 26,Baby) : Born and brought up in Kolkata. His father, originally from Bihar worked for Bosch . Neeraj Pandey moved to New Delhi, where he graduated in English.
Nikhil Advani ( Kal Ho Na Ho, Patiala Houdse, D Company) : Born in Mumbai. Father: Pharmaceutical business , Mother: Advertising professional. MSc – Chemistry from St Xaviers.
Nitesh Tiwari ( Chillar party, Bhootnath Returns, Dangal) : Born: Itarsi
Nishikant Kamat ( Dmbivali Fast. Mumbai Meri Jaan, Drishyam, Madaari): Born in Malvan, Maharashtra.
Nupur Asthana ( Mujhse Fraandship Karoge, Bewakoofiyan): Grew up in Kolkata and Hyderabad. Eng. Lit. from LSR, Delhi. Actively involved in amateur theatre . PG in Social Communications Media from Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai.
Omung Kumar ( Mary Kom, Sarnbjeet) : Mumbai. Started career as Production Designer.
Parmeet Sethi ( Badmaash Company): Mumbai Sydenham College. Married to Archana Puran Singh, film and television actress
* Prabhu Deva ( Wanted, Rowdy Rathore, R..rajkumar, Singh Is Bling) : Son of Mugur Sundar, a choreographer of South Indian films.
Pradeep Sarkar ( Parineeta, Laga Chunri Mein Daag, Lafangay Parinda, Mardani) : Kolkata. Writer. Ad Film Maker.
Prakash Jha (Hip Hip Hurray, Mrityudand, Gangajal, Rajneeti ) : Raised at his family’s farm in Bettiah, West Champaran, Bihar. Ram Jas College, Delhi. Drop ous from FTII and JJ School of Arts
Priyadarshan ( Gardish, Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchul, Malamal Weekly, Bhul Bhulaiya, Dhol) : Born in Thiruvananthapuram. Father: Librarian. MA-Philosophy from University College, Thiruvananthapuram
Punit Malhotra ( I Hate Luv Stories, Gori Tera Pyar Mein): Born in Bandra
R Balki ( Ki & Ka, Paa, Cheeni Kum): Chennai. Dropped out of MCA course to join Mudra. Presently Chairman and CEO of Lowe Lintas.
Raja Krishna Menon ( Bas Yun Hi, Barah Anna, Airlift): Born in Thrissur, Kerala and brought up in Bangalore. Son of veteran Malayalam actor T. P. Madhavan. Studied at The Valley School (KFI) and finished a Bachelors in Science (BSc) degree with a Chemistry major From Christ College, Bangalore. Started his career with ad films.
Rajat Kapoor ( Raghu Romeo, Mixed Doubles, Mithya, Ankho Dekhi): Delhi. FTII
Rajat Mukherjee ( Pyar Tune Kya Kiya, Road
Rajkumar Gupta ( Aamir, No One Killed Jessica, Ghanchakkar) :DPS, Bokaro, St Xaviers, Hazaribag, Rmajas College, Delhi.
*Rajkumar Santoshi ( Ghayal, Damini, Andaz Apna Apna, Ghtak, Lajja, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Khakee, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani) : Son of producer-director P.L. Santoshi
Rajshree Ojha ( Aisha, X: Past Present): Born: Kolkata. Grew up in Bangalore. Ggraduation in computer science from NY. Masters in film-making from American Film Institute in 2002
*Rakesh Roshan ( Khudgarz, Karan Arjun, Kaho Na Pyar Hai, Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish): Son of music director Roshan and son-in-law of producer J Omprakash
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra ( Rang De Bsanti, Bhag Milkha Bhag, Delhi 6): Delhi. Fthaer worked in Claridfes , Delhi
Ram Gopal Varma ( Rangeela, Satya, Company, Kaun, Sarkar, Bhoot): Hyderabad. Civil Engineer.
Reema Kagti ( Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Talaash): Born in Guwahati. BA in Eng. Lit. from Sophia College, Mumbai. PG diploma in Social Comm. Media at the Sophia Polytechnic.
Remo D’Souza ( F.A.L.T.U., ABCD, ABCD 2, The Flying Jatt) : Hails from Olavakkode, Palakkad, Kerala. Father: Gopi Nair in the Military. Schooling in Jamnagar, Gujarat
Ritesh Batra ( The Luncbox): Mumbai. Father: Merchant Navy. Worked as a consultant at Deloitte after graduating from Drake University, Iowa in Economics. Dropped out of film school of NYU.
*Rohan Sippy ( Bluffmaster, Dum Maro Dum, Nuatanki saala): Son of Director Ramesh Sippy.
*Rohit Dhawan ( desi Boyz, Dhishoom): Son of director David Dhawan
*Sabbir Khan ( Baaghi, Heropanti): Son of a film lyricist.
Sagar Bllary ( Bheja Fry, Hum Tum Shabana): Mumbai, Eng Lit from Ruia College, SRFTI
*Sajid Khan ( Heyy Baby, Houseful 1 & 2): Mumbai. Father – small time actor Kamran Khan. Mother is the sister of Honey Irani, child actor and screenwriter
*Sajid Nadiadwala ( Kick): Film family. Owner of Nadiadwala Grandsons.
Sanjay Gadvi ( Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi hai, Dhoom, Dhoom 2, Kidnap): Mumbai
Sanjay Gupta ( Aatish, Kaante, Musafir, Zinda, Shoot Out At Lokhndawala): Mumbai
*Sanjay Leela Bhansali ( Bajirao Mastami, Ram Leela, Black, Devdas, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam): Mumbai. Father a small-time music director
Santosh Sivan ( Asoka, Halo): Thiruananthapur, Family of artists. FTII
Shaad Ali ( Saathiya, Bunty aur Babli, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Kill Dill): Sonf of Mizaffar ali and Suhasini Ali. Grandson of Laxmi Sehgal.
Shimit Amin ( Chak De India, Rocket Singh, Ab Tak Chappan): Born Kampala, Uganda. Broiught up in Florida. Degree in Math from Univ of Florida
Shakun Batra ( Ek Main, Ek Tu, Kapoor and Sons): Mumbai. Business family. Film school in US.
Sharat Katariya ( Dum Lag Ke Hiasha) :
Shashank Ghosh ( Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II, Quick Gun Murugun, Khoobsoorat): TV Background ( MTV)
Shashank Khaitan ( Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya) : Born in Kolkata and raised in Nashik, Maharashtra in a Marwari business family. Whistling Woods International Institute.
*Shekhar Kapoor ( Masoom, Mr India, Bandit Queen): Born in Lahore. Father: Doctor. Uncle: Dev Ananad. Economics from St. Stephens. At 22 became CA with ICAEW in England.
Shimit Amin ( Chak De India, Rocket Singh, Ab Tak Chappan): Born Kampala, Uganda. Broiught up in Florida. Degree in Math from Univ of Florida
Shonali Bose (Amu, Margarita With a Straw): Delhi. Miranda House, DU. Columbia University ( Pol Sc)
Shoojit Sircar ( Piku, Vicky Donor, Yahan): Born Barrackpore. Schooling: KV, Barrackpore
Shyam Benegal ( Ankur, Nishant, Bhumika, Kalyug, Mandi, Junoon, Zubeida, Bose- The Forgotten Hero, Welcome to Sajjanpur) : Born: Secunderbad. M.A. Economics from Osmania University, where he formed the Hyderabad Film Society. Started career as copywriter with Lintas
Siddique ( Bodyguard): Born in Kochi. The duo of Siddique and Lal was spotted by Malayallan film director Fazil when he saw them performing in the Cochin Kalabhavan troupe
*Siddharth Anand (Hum Tum, Salaam Namaste,Ta Ra Rum Pum, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Anjaana Anjaani, Bang Bang! ) Son of film producer Bittu Anand
Sriram Raghavan ( Badlapur, Johny Gaddar, Ek Hasina Thi): Born in Chennai, brought up in Pune. Botanist father. FTII Grad.
Subhash Kapoor ( Phas Gaye Re Obama, Jolly LLB, Guddu Rangeela): MA-Hindi, Delhi. Political journalist.
Sudhir Mishra ( Dharavi, Is Raat Ka Subah Nahin, Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, Chameli, Yeh saali Zindagi): Born and brought up in Lucknow. Grandson of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Dwarka Pr. Graduated from DU, where he met Badal Sircar and formed a theatre group called Workshop
Sujoy Ghosh ( Jhankar Beats, Kahaani): Kolkata, Engineering and MBA from Manchester University,. Media Head – South Asia of Reuters
Traun Mansukhani ( Dostana): Lawrence School, Sanwar
Tingmanshu Dhulia ( Haasil, Paan Singh Tomar, Sahib Biwi aur Gangster, Bullet Raja) : Roots in the hills of Uttarakhand. Born and raised in Allahabad. Father: judge at the Allahabad High Court and a secretary of SFI. Mother: Prof of Sanskrit. Masters in Theatre from NSD.
Tony D’Souza ( Azhar) :
*Vikram Bhatt ( Ghulam, Kasoor, Raaz, Aitbar): Grandson of film producer Vijay Bhatt, son of cinematographer Praveen Bhatt
Vidhu Vinod Chopra ( Parinda, 1942: A Love Story, Mission Kashmir): Grew up in Srinagar. FTII
Subhash Ghai ( Kalicharan, Karz, Vidhaata, Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Khalnayak, Taal, Pardes): Nagpur. Father: Dentist. BCom from Rohtak. FTII
Vikas Bahl ( Queen, Shandaar) : Lajpat Nagar, Delhi. Ramjas college. MBA from Narsee Monji.
Vikramaditya Motwane ( Udaan, Lootera): Sindhi. Mumbai
Vinil Mathew ( Hasee Toh Phasee): Born in a Malayali family in Delhi. St. Columba’s School. FTII
Vishal Bhardwaj ( Haider, Maqbool, Omkara, Kaminay): Born near Bijnor, Up. Under-19 cricket at Meerut. Graduate from Hindu College, Delhi
Yash Chopra (Waqt, Ittefaq, Deewar, Trishul, Kala Patthar, Kabhie Kabhie, Lamhe, Silsila, Darr, Veerzara, Dil Toh Pagal Hai): Born and brought up in Lahore. Father: PWD Accountant. Studied at Doaba College, Jalandhar. Moved to Ludhiana after partition.
*Zoya Akhtar ( Dil Dhadkne Do, Zindagi Na Milega Dobara): Mumbai. Father: Scriptwriter and poet Javed Akhtar. Mother : Child actor and scriptwriter Honey Irani.
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