Year Ender 2023: Atlee, Abhishek Sinha to Karan Boolani; Check Out the Debut Directors Who Stole the Show

As the saying goes, ‘A director is someone who presides over a series of accidents,’ and in 2023, Indian cinema bore witness to these beautiful accidents in the form of emerging directors making their debuts. From engaging narratives to inventive storytelling, these newcomers infused the film industry with fresh perspectives.

Their impactful beginnings not only marked this year but also laid the foundation for promising careers in filmmaking. As we bid farewell to the year, let’s celebrate and reflect on the talents who stepped into the directorial limelight for the first time, leaving an enduring mark on the cinematic landscape.

*Atlee – Jawan*
Renowned for directing Tamil blockbusters such as ‘Bigil’ (2019) and ‘Theri’ (2016), Atlee ventured into Hindi cinema with his directorial debut, ‘Jawan.’ Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Vijay Sethupathi, and Nayanthara in key roles, the film not only lived up to the director’s track record but also emerged as a colossal success at the box office, breaking records and securing its place among the most significant releases in Indian cinema.

*Abhishek Sinha – Tumse Na Ho Payega*
After excelling in marketing and advertising, Abhishek Sinha made his film debut with ‘Tumse Na Ho Payega’ on Disney+Hotstar. With an impressive 18-year storytelling journey for top brands, Abhishek didn’t just make a movie – he unleashed a fresh vibe onto the screen. His unique vision infused life into the narrative, turning it into a universally gripping tale. With an eagle-eyed focus on details, Abhishek’s plunge into filmmaking showcased meticulous preparation and a deep understanding of the subject. His directorial finesse and expertise not only propelled ‘Tumse Na Ho Payega’ to the streaming platform’s top spot but also made it a relatable cinematic experience for diverse audiences. Prior to this, his directorial prowess shone in ad films and music videos like ‘Tera Zikr,’ ‘Hawa Banke,’ and ‘Main Kisi Aur Ka,’ featuring Darshan Raval.

*Akshat Ajay Sharma – Haddi*
Akshat Ajay Sharma defied expectations by casting Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a eunuch in his directorial debut. The film, titled “Haddi,” not only showcased Akshat’s ability to handle unconventional ideas but also received positive feedback from the audience. Akshat’s journey in the film industry saw him rise from being an Assistant Director on ‘Mukkabaaz” to assuming roles as a Creative Assistant and Associate Editor on projects like “Manmarziyan” (2018) and ‘Lust Stories.’ Known for his long-term collaboration with Anurag Kashyap, Akshat also served as the Second Unit Director on ‘Sacred Games Season 2’.

*Shantanu Bagchi – Mission Majnu*
Shantanu Bagchi made his directorial debut with ‘Mission Majnu’, featuring Sidharth Malhotra and Rashmika Mandanna in the lead roles. The film had Malhotra portraying the character of an R&AW agent, and it was inspired by an incident from the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. Before ‘Mission Majnu,’ Bagchi directed a short film titled Nycil Cool Shower. Having successfully brought together Malhotra and Mandanna for his spy thriller, Bagchi’s film received positive feedback for his captivating narrative.

*Sarvesh Mewara – Tejas*
Kangana Ranaut’s much-anticipated film ‘Tejas’ marked Sarvesh Mewara’s directorial debut, focusing on the story of a brave fighter pilot. In a unique twist, Mewara challenged traditional gender roles in filmmaking, depicting men in supporting roles as either love interests or individuals rescued by Tejas, the protagonist. Before Tejas, Mewara was set to direct Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Gulab Jamun’ with Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Additionally, Mewara directed a short film titled The Girl and the Auto Rickshaw.

*Sameer Vidwans – Satya Prem Ki Katha*
Though recognized primarily as an accomplished Marathi film director, Sameer ventured into Hindi cinema with his debut film, ‘Satya Prem Ki Katha,’ starring Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani. The movie not only achieved commercial success but also received widespread critical acclaim, swiftly becoming a favourite among audiences. Its resonance with viewers can be attributed to the film’s subject matter and the compelling way it was presented, establishing an instant connection with the audience.

*Karan Boolani – Thank You For Coming*
Karan Boolani, entered the realm of Hindi film direction with “Thank You for Coming.” The ensemble cast, comprising Anil Kapoor, Bhumi Pednekar, Shehnaaz Gill, Shibani Bedi, Natasha Rastogi, Kusha Kapila, Karan Kundrra, and Dolly Singh, delved into a subject rarely explored in Bollywood. Beyond its surface as a lighthearted and humorous take on female pleasure, the film delved into core themes such as patriarchy, challenging societal norms, and relationships, offering a unique perspective not commonly seen in mainstream Hindi movies.

*Yashowardhan Mishra – Kathal*
Yashowardhan Mishra embarked on his directorial journey by delving into socio-cultural themes within the heartland of central India in the Netflix film ‘Kathal,’ featuring Sanya Malhotra in the lead role. The film, serving as a social commentary, received acclaim for its performances and adept handling of satirical drama.

*Aasmaan Bhardwaj – Kuttey*
Aasmaan Bhardwaj, the son of legendary filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, entered the world of directing and made his debut with the film “Kuttey.” The film featured an ensemble cast including Tabu, Arjun Kapoor, and Radhika Madan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kumud Mishra, and Shardul Bhardwaj. While the Aasmaan impressed everyone with his directorial skills, the film received a lukewarm response.

*Victor Mukherjee – Lakadbaggha*
Victor Mukherjee made his directorial debut with the film ‘Lakadbaggha,’ which clashed with Bhardwaj’s ‘Kuttey.’ Starring Anshuman Jha and Riddhi Dogra in lead roles, the movie revolved around Arjun Bakshi, an animal rescuer from Kolkata, who exposed cattle smuggling in his quest to find his missing dog. Before this venture, Mukherjee had directed web series such as ‘Love Lust and Confusion.’

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