'Rangoon' director, Vishal Bhardwaj|Pradeep Sarkar

2014 has seen films that have been out of the box, films that have excelled more than expected and some which have bombed even though they were the most promising. However, one thing that can be said about the year is that directors and projects have become that little bit more daring. BizAsia has hand-picked five that particularly stood out and some which deserve a mention even though they didn’t make our list.

Omung Kumar – ‘Mary Kom’

Omung Kumar
Omung Kumar

With Priyanka Chopra’s star power at the centre of this biopic, ‘Mary Kom’ was always going to have intrigue from the audiences. Being a true story of boxer Mary Kom’s struggle and with immensely successful ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ (2013) to take inspiration from, director Omung Kumar seems to put a lot about a long journey into a film. However, despite it receiving mixed reviews at the box office, Kumar’s effort was worthy and this simply cannot be ignored.

Rajkumar Hirani – ‘PK’

Rajkumar Hirani
Rajkumar Hirani

It would definitely be controversial to omit Rajumar Hirani from this yearly roundup list. With ‘PK’ he has shown once again how much of a great filmmaker and storyteller he really is. Without overly promoting the film or giving many hints as to what the plot was about, Hirani – in what is actually Aamir Khan’s style – managed to get the audiences flowing to the cinemas., as expected. His honesty and integrity as a director was once again on show.

Imtiaz Ali – ‘Highway’

Imtiaz Ali
Imtiaz Ali

‘Highway’, starring Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda, was a film that director Imtiaz Ali wanted to make for a number of years. When it was eventually made and released in February 2014, it showcased the director’s versatility and his talent at raw-filmmaking. Much of the film was unscripted and this seemed to only add to the organic style that the touching and tragic story is told. Ali has been known for his love stories and with ‘Highway’ he changed this perception.

Vishal Bhardwaj – ‘Haider’

Vishal Bhardwaj
Vishal Bhardwaj

‘Haider’ has already started sweeping the awards of the year and director Vishal Bhardwaj should take much credit for that. As his third Shakespearean offering to Bollywood, ‘Haider’ was a Hindi adaptation of ‘Hamlet’. Bhardwaj successfully casted some of the industry’s most celebrated actors in the most interesting roles for the film and his efforts paid off. Pitted against ‘Bang Bang’ upon release, ‘Haider’ managed to strike the right chord with the audiences and for this and much more, Bhardwaj is one of the year’s best.

Pradeep Sarkar – ‘Mardaani’

Pradeep Sarkar
Pradeep Sarkar

Known for his somewhat elaborate but very grounded filmmaking appeal, Pradeep Sarkar’s offering of ‘Mardaani’ in 2014, with Rani Mukerji in the protagonist’s role, was almost a world away from his signature style. The story was both hard-hitting and somewhat socially sensitive and Sarkar very much put it across in exactly that manner but also with emphasis of the ordinary. This is a rare quality to possess and his realism is perhaps what helped the morale and the issues of the film to be portrayed in the correct way.

As spoken of above, there are directors who have had stand-out projects this year but who didn’t quite make our list. The first is Homi Adajania who directed Deepika Padukone and Arjun Kapoor starrer ‘Finding Fanny’. This film was, from the onset, not particularly made for the Indian audiences specifically. In fact, the look and feel of the film was very much international, all the way up until the way the humour was portrayed. With actors with as Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia and Pankaj Kapur also making appearances, Adajania did well in giving them colourful personas and intermingling relations.

Abhishek Varman is also a director to note of this year for his film ‘2 States’. Although the film’s story originated from Chetan Bhagat’s novel of the same name, it was also the life story of the author. As such, the way he portrayed the characters played by Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt was pretty commendable and struck a chord with the audiences. The ensemble cast was also used effectively, making it an all round performance oriented movie which represented the book well.

Last but not the least comes David Dhawan, a veteran and hugely experienced director. He directed his son Varun Dhawan for the first time in ‘Main Tera Hero’. The film did well at the box office but it was the pure magic of the Govinda’s comic era which was revived which was the best thing about it. Varun very much lived upto that kid of comedy and the film was just a very worthy reminder of the talent that is David Dhawan. He is rightfully unmatchable in the comedy genre and with ‘Main Tera Hero’, this father-son combination was hugely successful.

That brings yet another very innovative year to an end. No doubt the coming years will also some interesting topics to light through films and also directors that are to watch out for.