Abhishek Chaubey: He burst onto the scene with Ishqiya, a black comedy film about a conniving widow played convincingly by Vidya Balan and two con men, the brilliant Naseeruddin Shah complemented ably by Arshad Warsi. It was critically acclaimed both for the subject and the performances. Film critic Rajeev Masand said the film was unapologetically adult in its relationships, its language and its humour. "The film sparkles for its inspired writing and uncompromised direction," he wrote. That set the tone for Abhishek's second film too. The sequel of Ishqiya, Dedh Ishquiya marked the comeback of Madhuri Dixit to big screen after seven years. It was hailed by critics as a 'deliciously dark film'. Not surprising, as Abhishek has his roots firmly ensconced in Vishal Bhardwaj's dark noir films, having started out as his associate director and co-writer. Abhishek has roped in Shahid Kapoor for his next untitled film that is rumoured to be a sci-fic.
Abhishek Kapoor: He has a big hand in turning Farhan Akhtar, the director into an actor. It was with his Rock On!!, that Farhan moved from behind the camera, on screen. The film also resurrected Arjun Rampal's career and fetched him a National Award. A runaway success Rock On!! proved to be a turning point for Abhishek who had forayed into Bollywood as an actor in Uff...Yeh Mohabbat that didn't do anything for his career. He then turned director with Aryan that met with a lukewarm response. After Rock On!!, however, there's been no looking back for the director who won critical acclaim and commercial success with Kai Po Che, the debut film of TV actors Sushant Singh Rajput and Amit Sadh. He is currently working on Fitoor based on Great Expectations and stars Katrina Kaif and Aditya Rao Kapoor. It also marks Rekha's comeback in the role of Miss Havisham. Abhishek has also announced a film based on the mythological epic Mahabharata. From a musical to an epic story, Abhishek's come a long way.
Abhishek Verman: Karan Johar's find, Abhishek made his directorial debut with 2 States. The film starring Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor got mixed reviews but had an excellent opening despite two relative newcomers in the film. Declared a superhit it went on to garner Rs 100 crores. Based on Chetan Bhagat's novel by the same name, Abhishek for a debutant managed to bring the North-South cultural divide exceptionally well. Mahesh Bhatt descibes him as an outstanding writer/ director.
Karan Malhotra: He worked as an assistant director for ten years in films like Jodha Akbar and My Name Is Khan before making his directorial debut with the remake of Agneepath. The idea was not very well-received by the purists. With certain changes to the original story, like the addition of Rishi Kapoor's evil character – incidentally it was Rishi's first turn as a baddie – Karan went ahead and roped in Hrithik Roshan to reprise Amitabh Bachchan's iconic character Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. Sanjay Dutt, because of his beefy look was cast as the villain Kancha-Cheena. Sanjay's bald, menacing look was a hit since the promos started and the film went on to have the biggest opening breaking the record of Bodyguard. Hrithik who was initially reluctant to play the role was praised for his gritty performance. Karan who had only taken the basic revenge plot from the original and given it his own take, was unanimously hailed by the critics. Though dissimilar to the original it was considered a fitting tribute to the masterwork! Karan is now working on his next film Shuddhi, and like every new director harbours the desire to make a film with Bachchan. "It would be a dream come true. Without doubt it would be the high point of my career," he is quoted to have said.
Maneesh Sharma: He made his directorial debut with the delightful Band Baaja Baaraat and hasn't looked back since. A resounding success, Band Baaja Baaraat starring Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh won Maneesh several awards. His next, Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl based on John Tucker Must Die, though, received mixed reviews and was not a box-office success either. However, his third film Shuddh Desi Romance exploring the taboo concept of live-in relationships had the critics and the trade giving it a thumbs up. Currently, the writer-director is working on his next film Fan starring Shah Rukh Khan. He will also be the first independent producer to make a film Dum Laga Ke Haisa under the YRF banner which hitherto had either Aditya or his late father Yash Chopra as producer. The film will star Ayushmann Khurrana. For Maneesh, who started as an assistant on several YRF films, life has come full circle!
Neeraj Pandey: He was an unknown writer-director who roped in acting stalwarts Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher for his debut movie, A Wednesday based on Mumbai train blasts. Opening to positive reviews, the film was a sleeper hit and won Neeraj the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Film of a Director. For his second film Special 26 based on a real-life jewellery heist he roped in Akshay Kumar to play the conman. Tight and gripping, it won critical acclaim but did not find much favour at the BO. His third outing Total Siyaapa, a cross-border love story with a twist failed to please the critics and the trade. It, however, had better luck overseas. Neeraj who keeps a low profile is producing Saat Ucchakey and has written a novel Ghalib Danger. Here's hoping the new-age director comes back with another gripping thriller!