Path Breakers

These are the Indian film industry’s outliers: actors, directors and technicians who have, armed with tenacity and quality, broken established rules and created striking new avenues of self-expression. Some have achieved the impossible; others have tapped into the art of the possible and emerged with refreshingly unique results


He dreams big. Going where his imagination takes him, he pulls out the stops in the execution of his grand cinematic vision. The ‘hit’ director tag sits pretty on him. With his last outing, Baahubali – The Beginning, he too the fantasy action epic genre to a completely different plane aided by eye-popping CG imagery. Audiences can barely wait for part two of the Baahubali experience!

Kangana Ranaut

She has steadily risen up the Bollywood ranks without the crutches of the industry’s big male box-office powerhouses. With heroine-centric films like ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ and ‘Queen’ under her belt, Kangana is perceived as an actress capable of carrying an entire film on her slender shoulders. Up ahead for the fans of the actress is the Vishal Bhardwaj period romance ‘Rangoon’.

Manish Mundra

A film producer by accident, he has an unfailing eye for cinematic gems. A tweet by actor-director Rajat Kapoor expressing his frustration at not finding funds for ‘Ankhon Dekhi’ caught his attention and he offered to produce the critically acclaimed film. Since then this one-time soft drinks seller in Deoghar, Jharkhand, has backed extraordinary films like ‘Umrika’, ‘Dhanak’, ‘Masaan’ and ‘Waiting’.

Qaushiq Mukherjee

An irrepressible agent provocateur, Kolkata-based Q is known the world over for his controversial cult film, ‘Gandu’. He has since adapted a Rabindranath Tagore dance drama, ‘Tasher Desh’, into a typically revisionist film; ‘Nabarun’, a documentary on the late Bengali litterateur Nabarun Bhattacharya; and the horror film ‘Ludo’.


Since 2007, he has just three films to his credit. But his all three (‘Polladhavan’, ‘Aadukalam’ and the recent ‘Visaranai’) directorial ventures have left a huge impact in Tamil cinema, besides catapulting him into the league of India’s most respected filmmakers. His approach to filmmaking is marked by a rare level of meticulousness.

Resul Pookutty

This envelope-pushing sound designer and editor has won an Oscar and BAFTA award for his work on Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. In a career spanning almost two decades, he has collaborated with directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Rajkumar Hirani and Imtiaz Ali and has also worked on the sound design of blockbusters like ‘Ghajini’, ‘Enthiran’ and ‘Ra.One’.

Anurag Kashyap

The inspiration behind many young directors to push the boundaries of Mumbai’s independent cinema, he is continues to challenge the hegemony of Bollywood, eschewing entertainment— fantasy, pleasure, happy endings—and offering instead harsh and edgy stories about life in contemporary society. His films make him stand apart.

Amit Dutta

He is probably India’s best-known filmmaker globally. But ironically, he is barely known in India. But that isn’t surprising. He is a fiercely independent filmmaker who lives in the hills and makes rigorous films about zones of experience and consciousness. His films have few parallels in Indian cinema. 

Umesh Kulkarni

This FTII alumnus is one of the finest Marathi filmmakers of his generation. He directed several acclaimed short films before making his first feature film, ‘Valu’ (The Wild Bull). His films, steeped in the ethos of Maharashtra and informed with a deeply personal vision, are lucid comments on social and cultural issues of the times.

Varun Grover

This gifted stand-up comedian, lyricist and screenwriter is a talent that stands apart from the crowd with the sheer uniqueness of his output. Besides writing lyrics for ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, ‘Ankhon Dekhi’ and ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, he scripted Neeraj Ghaywan’s ‘Masaan’, which garnered accolades in Cannes last year. Grover has written lyrics for the upcoming SRK Film, ‘Fan’.

Sanal Kumar Sasidharan

A lawyer by training and a passionate film society activist, he made his directorial debut in 2014 with the crowd-funded ‘Oraalpokkam’ based on man’s indiscriminate assaults on the environment. He followed it with ‘An Off-Day Game’, a disturbing look at caste dynamics in Kerala against the backdrop of an election. His third film, a social satire provocatively titled ‘Sexy Durga’, is already in the making.

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15 Feb 2018 Issue

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