16 Years of Rohit Shetty: How an anonymous stuntman became a blockbuster director
Rohit Shetty's journey from Suhaag to Simmba is nothing less than a roller-coaster ride!
Whenever we talk about some of the most influential and formidable filmmakers of Hindi Cinema of the modern times, we tend to tilt towards names like Shoojit Sircar, Sriram Raghavan, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap. We still tend to gaze at mainstream and over-the-top and larger-than-life cinema with disdain and debate. What we don't realize is that hardcore commercial potboilers will always be rooted in Hindi Cinema's ethos.
And one of those filmmakers that has understood the psyche of the audiences is Rohit Shetty, the man who has consistently given one blockbuster after another. Today is a special day for the director, today is the day when it all began for him, his journey as a filmmaker, his journey behind the lenses and narrating stories that he wanted to tell with flying cars and massive stars. His directorial debut, Zameen, dealt with a dense subject like terrorism and didn't find many takers. But one failure wasn't enough to leave him dejected and depressed.
But his journey till Zameen was anything but a cakewalk. He started his career as an assistant action director to the late Veeru Devgn in 1991's Phool Aur Kaante that was the debut vehicle of Ajay Devgn. Ever since he dreamt of making a career in the Hindi film industry, the penchant and fascination for never-seen-before action were always ingrained in his head and heart. He knew he was made for the movies.
Rohit Shetty's transformation into a brand began with his second film, Golmaal, a comedy about four friends and their (mis)adventures. It's one of those rare entertainers that chuckled you from the first scene to the last, never resorting to gratuitous romance or weepy melodrama. Today, it's one of the most successful and popular franchises of Bollywood.
But the man isn't only for humour and hilarity. His arguably most revered film is Singham, also starring Ajay Devgn, his favourite actor. His portrayal of a fearless police officer went on to become a celluloid cop for the ages. There aren't too many directors who make masala entertainers well, Shetty knows how to mount his narrative on done-to-death subjects and flavour them with contagious characters and impressionable dialogues. Singham's quips are imbedded in every cine goer's minds and it's nearly impossible to forget those delicious one-liners that Sajid-Farhad wrote for Devgn. Shetty and Devgn are possibly the only director-actor duo that understands their respective strengths and weaknesses, both on and off the silver screen.
In 2013, Shetty took a risk by making a romantic film with Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone titled Chennai Express. It was his first film sans Devgn and the expectations were monumental. SRK's few films like Ra. One and Jab Tak Hai Jaan didn't really live up to the hype. But as fate would have it, the film demolished all previous box-office records and became one of the highest-grossing movies of the year, ultimately surpassing the lifetime collections of 3 idiots (Rs 202 crores). The record was broken after a long wait of four years.
And not to forget, he's also the only filmmaker who has the ambitions to create an Avengers-style like a universe in India with his cop dramas Singham, Simmba, and Sooryavanshi. In the last reel of Simmba, Akshay Kumar made an appearance, heroically announcing he would be the next cop in the world of the filmmaker. And in that film, Singham (Devgn) and Simmba (Singh) will make their presence felt. It's a maddening idea that could crackle on the celluloid if done correctly.
Critics often scoff at his idea of mainstream film-making and magnanimous action set-pieces, the audiences have a blast. Back in 1994, he was Akshay Kumar's body double in his film Suhaag, today; he's giving him one of the most anticipated films of his career. You decide who should have the last laugh now!
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