2010 has been a very promising journey for a lot of directors who made their debut this year. Few stood out with their brilliant films while some debut directors were restricted to the lower rungs of their ladders with ghastly apparitions in the name of films. In a series of articles beginning with this one, we’ll talk about those debut directors who left a mark on the silver screen with their debut films starting with the biggest hit of this year – Dabangg by first time baton wielding director, Abhinav Singh Kashyap.
In spite of his maiden film starring Salman Khan and new comer Sonakshi Sinha being a massive hit, Abhinav has continued to keep a low profile. Many would recall his name from the world of television where he directed serials in the mid 90s. He also has co-written a few films before and even assisted director Mani Ratnam on Yuva till finally Dabangg came into existence. That was one story he had been wanting to tell and man did he do it with style.
Dabangg is a story about a fearless cop Chulbul Pandey (played by Salman Khan) in one of the small towns of Uttar Pradesh who shares an estranged relationship with his step-father and step-brother Makhanchan Pandey (Arbaaz Khan). Sonakshi Sinha plays Chulbul’s love interest while Cheddi Singh (Sonu Sood) is the main protagonist who uses the rift between the two warring brothers to his advantage.
Dabangg hit the limelight for all the right reasons. If it had Salman Khan playing to the gallery, the debut of Sonakshi as his love interest, it also had the sizzling Mallaika Arora Khan gyrating to the hit song ‘Munni badnam huii…’ which added to the producers and the distributors laughing all the way to the bank. On day one of its release (10th September 2010), the film created box office record for the highest opening gross and then the highest weekend gross surpassing the earlier records held by 3 Idiots. It now stands second in terms of highest grossing Bollywood films as well as the top grossing movie of 2010.
To add to the overall appeal of the film, it was the novel treatment to the whole film by the director that acted as a catalyst to the film being super hit. The film went on to receive quite a few positive reviews from the critics where the film as a whole got good ratings and the audience too lapped it up hungrily.
People will know Abhinav Kashyap because of his famous elder brother Anurag Kashyap who has delivered quite a few well acclaimed but dark films including the iconic Dev D. Abhinav doesn’t shy away from accepting the fact that he does takes tips and advices from his brother regularly. The two share a very warm comradeship.
It was in the early 90s that Abhinav set foot in Mumbai and later on went on to write his first film Jung for Sanjay Gupta in 1995 after working as an assistant writer for television serials. He followed this by working as an Assistant Director to Mani Ratnam for Yuva. This was followed by dialogue writing for Manorama Six Feet Under and 13B.He also enacted a role in Yuva but his ultimate aim had been to direct a film which he fulfilled gloriously by giving us the biggest hit of 2010.
In one of his candid interviews, Abhinav cleared the doubts that Salman had ghost directed most of the scenes of the films. It was always his film and Salman had just given him and the action director S. Vijayan the indication that he wanted the action sequences of Dabangg to be bigger and better then his last big hit, Wanted. True to his words, S. Vijayan gave the film five major action sequences that took 60 days to shoot. In a normal situation, one could shoot an entire film or two in that 60-day time frame.
However the journey of Dabangg wasn’t exactly a walk over rose petals. After pitching the story to a number of people, some suggested changes in the script while a few others promised to get back to Abhinav which they never did. Some producers were reluctant to entertain him keeping in mind his brother, Anurag Kashyap’s attitude. While there were some who wanted Anurag to direct the film. Finally, he approached Arbaaz Khan to play one of the characters in Dabangg. Arbaaz learnt from him that no producer was on board at that time and he stepped in. Rather then make a film with small casts, Arbaaz wanted it made on a big scale and this way Salman Khan came on board. This followed with seven drafts of the script to suit Salman’s personality till it finally got locked. Once the script was in place, shooting commenced and finished in seven months and in one schedule, a record for Salman since it was just the second film after Maine Pyar Kiya to be completed in one schedule.
While the shoot took place over these seven months, Abhinav made sure Salman’s freshly released and a mega hit Wanted in no way influenced him while making Dabangg. Even S. Vijayan had to fight this ghost as he had done the action direction of Wanted as well. This was the case with some other technicians too. Somehow, everyone stood their ground and handled the film as a completely new entity. The end result was all there for everyone to see.
Abhinav surely has come a long way. From the district of Mirzapur in West Bengal, his birthplace to living in Uttar Pradesh and gradually studying in a board school in Gwalior followed by graduating from New Delhi, it had been a long ride across the country. After moving to Mumbai, he started to live with Anurag and continued to do his management studies. By fate, he started writing for television when one of his neighbors took him on board as a writer in 1995. Abhinav was forced to give up his management studies.
Later, he joined his brother and together they wrote the dialogues for a few television serials. This was followed by English movie translations. Anurag moved on to bigger things that saw his career graph soar high soon after Satya directed by Ram Gopal Varma. Anurag was instrumental in Abhinav getting the Jung project which rather then do justice to Abhinav’s writing talent was instrumental in sending it spiraling downwards.
After Jung, Abhinav took to directing television serials like Darr. Thereafter, luck favored him temporarily when a production house took him on as a director for a script he himself had written. However, the project never took off as the company faced huge losses. Dejected, Abhinav took on the assistant’s role for Mani Ratnam’s Yuva.
After Yuva, Abhinav went back to doing what he did best – directing serials. Siddhant, his serial after Yuva got him due recognition and a spate of awards and rave review. Manorama Six Feet Under and 13B later, he wrote complete film scripts and knocked on the doors till Arbaaz Khan reopened the doors on his face. History beckoned Abhinav.
Few people know Abhinav Kashyap that well. He’s a man who talks too much, too less about himself and maximum about films. But what he loved to say about himself just before the release of the film kind of summed up the cheekiness of the man – “It’s a great burden of my head that I am not being known as Anurag Kashyap’s brother after the Dabangg trailer released. It will be the other way around.” Whether Abhinav Kashyap will continue to be a part of the now hugely anticipated sequel to Dabangg is a futuristic question that only time will answer but for now, Abhinav has made his mark and he’s here to stay for good. Welcome to Bollywood Abhinav ‘Robinhood’ Kashyap!