x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

From Zoya Akhtar to Ranveer Singh: a new set of movers and shakers

Meet Bollywood's current top five movers, a new generation of actors and directors taking the Hindi-language film industry by storm.

Zoya Akhtar. Sam Panthaky / AFP
Zoya Akhtar. Sam Panthaky / AFP

Bollywood is one industry that continuously welcomes an array of talent, though only a few survive. Indian cinema legends, including the actor Amitabh Bachchan and the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, have already set the bar high, but there's a new generation taking the Hindi-language film industry by storm.

We take a look at Bollywood's current top five movers, according to the radio presenters Raj Dhanda and Pablo Sat-Bhambra, the hosts of the weekend breakfast show Love Bollywood with Raj and Pablo, on the BBC Asian Network.

Karan Johar

Johar is one of the most profound directors of his generation, successfully reviving the notion of 'family' in Indian cinema. His box office hits include Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dostana.

"He kicked in at a time when Bollywood looked like it was losing its way slightly, and brought back the romantic hero with Shah Rukh Khan," says Bhambra. "He understands the sensitivity of the audience and adds his own sentiments and emotions when it comes to the script."

Bhambra describes his recent release, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, starring Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan, as a "coming-of-age movie".

Johar also helmed Agneepath, a remake of the 1990 action thriller of the same name.

"If you look at the original Agneepath, it's really hard to live up to that, yet Karan totally transcends the Bollywood trend, as he has managed to capture the emotions of the original, but completely modernise it," says Bhambra.

The director is continuing to push boundaries with his upcoming comedy, Student of the Year.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra

The director made his mark in 1994 with 1942: A Love Story, starring Anil Kapoor and Manisha Koirala. He is set to continue entertaining cinema-goers with his upcoming release, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, recommended by Dhanda.

"The film is about a little kid, and all he wants is to own a Ferrari, so he starts to play cricket," says Dhanda.

"Not many people know that one of Vidhu's short films was entered for the Oscars," Dhanda shares. "He grew up in Kashmir and English wasn't his first language, but he learnt it by watching films like The Godfather."

Ekta Kapoor

The producer Kapoor, daughter of the 1970s Bollywood actor Jeetendera Kapoor, is known for her risk-taking.

"She's turned Bollywood on its head, with her films Once Upon A Time in Mumbai, Shootout at Lokhandwala and The Dirty Picture," says Dhanda.

"She changes genres, is quite gritty, but also stays true to the script."

Kapoor is one of the most powerful women within the Indian media industry, owning her own television company, Balaji Telefilms.

"She's going to be one of the first media moguls in Bollywood since Fearless Nadia and Devika Rani," Dhanda says.

Ranveer Singh

Singh made his debut in 2010 with Yash Chopra's Band Baaja Baaraat. What makes him special is his humble background.

"In this day and age, everyone seems to be a star's son or daughter," says Dhanda. "Kumar came from nowhere, just like Shah Rukh Khan."

The 26-year-old actor received a number of awards last year, including the Filmfare Award for Best Newcomer and Star Screen Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

His next film, Lootera, is set to be released in October, with Singh starring alongside Sonakhshi Sinha.

Zoya Akhtar

Akhtar has impressed the industry with her directing and scriptwriting talents.

"Her 2009 film Luck By Chance was her insight on growing up on the fringes of the film industry," says Dhanda. "Transforming that into a movie was amazing."

Akhtar's second film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara starring Hrithik Roshan, won for her the Filmfare Award for Best Director.

The film follows three childhood friends who set off to Spain for a road trip - a unique concept compared to conventional Bollywood plots.

Dhanda says: "Zoya is very script-orientated. With her it's always about the script and the characters."