Ben Affleck: If you listened to his Oscar speech carefully, he used two important phrases — “knocked down” and “you gotta get up”. Affleck was talking about his nightmare years as an actor when he was doing films like Gigli! Then he turned it around in 2007 directing the kidnap movie Gone Baby Gone. He followed it up with the heist blockbuster The Town. And now he’s delivered the brilliant Argo. The man has sure got up!
Quentin Tarantino: He used to write scripts yes, but his main interest in Hollywood was to become a movie star. Besides bit roles in his own films — Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms.... — he would feature in movies like Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn. In a recent interview, QT said that only after doing the Kill Bill movies, he was convinced that his true and only calling was that of a writer-director. Agree! But keep the cameos coming, QT.
Robert Redford: The Sundance Kid was such a handsome man and he was a good actor but when RR reversed roles, a great director was born. Ordinary People was the one which brought him awards and acclaim and Redford followed it up with fine films like A River Runs Through It and Quiz Show.
Abhishek Kapoor: Have you heard of Uff! Yeh Mohabbat, Aashique Mastane and Shikaar? Well, the three films had Gattu Kapoor in the lead. His directorial debut Aryan had intensity but no one wanted to watch a Sohail Khan-starrer. And then came the assured Rock On!! in 2008 and now with Kai Po Che!, AK the director has hit it out of the park. That’s what you call a switch hit!
Guru Dutt: He started out as a choreographer but even before you could spell out his real name (Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone), he was made an actor. But Baazi in 1951 changed the game and for the next decade he would direct a film a year. And what films! Kaagaz Ke Phool, Pyaasa, Mr. & Mrs. 55, Aar Paar... Dutt was Guru.
Subhash Ghai: If you can spot him in Aradhana, you deserve a prize! His role was that missable. But all Ghaisaab ever wanted to become was an actor. Yes, that explains those swinging special appearances in his films. What he brought to Hindi cinema as a director though was the big picture: in canvas and music. From Kalicharan to Karz to Hero to Karma to Ram Lakhan to Saudagar to Taal.
Sofia Coppola: Remember that petite stunner from The Godfather Part III? Oh how much we would love to see her on screen again! But Francis Ford Coppola’s beautiful daughter has graduated into this intensely sensitive filmmaker and her body of work is just getting better and better. The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, Somewhere...
Clint Eastwood: He was the dude in those Spaghetti Westerns playing The Man With No Name, but as a director Clinty has been extraordinary. Right from his Play Misty For Me days he’s been an exciting filmmaker and he really upped the game from 1992’s Unforgiven. The Bridges of Madison County, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, Invictus... in a league of his own!
Raj Kapoor: He did channel the innocence and magic of the tramp as an actor but as a filmmaker he really pushed the envelope in this country (from smashing social stereotypes to showing off boobs in wet white saris). From Aag, Barsaat, Awaara, Shree 420 and Sangam to Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Prem Rog, Ram Teri Ganga Maili...
Ashutosh Gowariker: He was the hero’s friend or the baddie’s buddy in films like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Chamatkar and Indrajeet before turning director. His first two — Pehla Nasha and Baazi — weren’t that hot and then came the hat-trick of hurrahs in Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar. He’s been a bit out of form but it’s only a matter of time.
Rakesh Roshan: He was always the hero who didn’t make it. A bit like Vinod Mehra, he was very close, yet very far. But the switch changed everything. Starting with Khudgarz, Rakesh Roshan hit gold with Khoon Bhari Maang and Kishen Kanhaiya before son Hrithik took it to level next, first with Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai and then with Koi... Mil Gaya and Krrish.
Aparna Sen: Yes, there’s a huge fan base of Rinadi the actor but Rinadi the filmmaker has raised the bar so high that you have to admit that director must come first in her resume. Right from the brilliant 36 Chowringhee Lane to Parama to Paromitar Ek Din to Mr. & Mrs. Iyer to The Japanese Wife, life’s been on a roll for Rinadi behind the camera.