For Sujoy Ghosh, a lot was riding on Kahaani. After his previous outings — Home Delivery and Aladin — flopped, he had come to realise his limitations. Had Kahaani not worked, Ghosh had made up his mind to quit Bollywood. “I was fortunate that the audience had given me enough chances. But you cannot take your audience for granted. Sooner or later, one has to take the decision and move on,” says Ghosh. However, destiny had different plans for him. Kahaani clicked with the audience and the filmmaker smiled all the way to the bank. This also meant that Ghosh had reaffirmed his place in the industry, just the way he did with his first film Jhankaar Beats.
Directorial comebacks were cheered this year with directors, who were long forgotten or whose careers looked down and out, making their mark. A case in point is Anurag Basu. After Kites tanked, not many gave Basu a chance again. He came back with Barfi! and it became the only unconventional film to earn Rs 100 crore at the box office. Similarly, after Yahaan, Shoojit Sircar had vanished into oblivion. His second feature, Shoebite, hadn’t found a distributor, when John Abraham came to his rescue and decided to produce Vicky Donor. The movie became one of this year’s biggest sleeper hits. Ditto was the case of Umesh Shukla. His OMG: Oh My God! marked his glorious return after his first film Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge sank without a trace.
Tigmanshu Dhulia was in the reckoning after 2011’s average hit, Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster. But his next release, Shagird, saw a poor fate at the box office. However, Paan Singh Tomar, a biopic of the athlete-turned-dacoit, put him on the list of the most sought-after directors of Bollywood. “Such is Bollywood,” exclaims Dhulia, who has seen the ups and downs more often than anyone else. “You are as good as your last film. So when a film does well, all of a sudden, your standing in the industry changes and there are more and more people wanting to work with you. So it feels good when one makes a comeback,” says Dhulia.
In Bollywood, one cannot have an uninterrupted run. “When your first film doesn’t do well, it is more of a pressure,” says Shukla. “When I chose to make OMG: Oh My God, I was certain the content would be liked, but I was a little apprehensive about the box-office success,” he adds. It was the waiting period that was a major concern for Sircar. After Yahaan was critically acclaimed, he got his second film Shoebite soon after. “However, in Bollywood, one can never predict. Vicky Donor has certainly been a huge turning point in my career. It has obviously increased my confidence,” adds Sircar.
Sometimes, failures can turn out to be blessings in disguise. Basu recalls how most people had written him off, and few expected him to come back with a good film. “The good thing about making Barfi! was that there was hardly any pressure. However, when it did hit a bull’s eye, it made me content,” he says.