For a long time in Bollywood, anything that wasn't a boy-meets-girl drama was labelled as 'art' or 'parallel' cinema. The stories in mainstream Hindi cinema followed an unwritten code. But that's not the case anymore.
In the past decade, there has been a noticeable shift in this trend. Even though the commercial masala films were being made with all gusto, there was a visible change in the films that were being offered to the audience. With films like A Wednesday! and Khosla Ka Ghosla gaining mass popularity, it was evident that there was enough audience for all genres of cinema. The new generation of filmmakers came into the industry and started a revolution. They offered content that the audience had been starving for. They blurred the lines between the so-called art and commercial cinema.
An important member of this group of film makers is Neeraj Pandey.
Pandey's style of film making stands out in the pool of Hindi cinema because of the way he treats his subjects.
His subjects stem out of real life. And his treatment of those subjects doesn't feel fictionalised. In the name of creative freedom, films usually tend to enter a space that makes the audience step away from the story but Neeraj's command over his film keeps you engaged.
Neeraj Pandey entered the film industry with A Wednesday! (2008).
The film resonated with the audience because it was about the struggles of a regular working class man. It translated the rage that the common man was facing. The film appealed to the masses which proved that the cinema-going audience isn't always looking for dance numbers but applauds good cinema.
With a film like Special 26 (2013), Neeraj proved that even with a star like Akshay Kumar, the integrity of the film needn't be compromised.
He made a smart crime thriller set in the '80s. The film was polished, slick and brilliantly paced. While we have seen various period films in Hindi cinema, there are very few that feel authentic. Neeraj took a real life incident and presented it in a believable manner.
Baby's success proved that Neeraj was not bound by a particular genre.
The spy thriller genre has been quite a favourite of Bollywood so when Neeraj Pandey's Baby released in 2015, the audience went in expecting a similar kind of drama. But the film proved to be quite a surprise. The ensemble cast fit into their roles perfectly. There wasn't any exaggerated drama that such films usually delve into and that appealed to the audience.
His next, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, is eagerly awaited.
The biopic of the most successful captain of the Indian cricket team has been in the news ever since the production of the film started. The trailer of the film gave us a sneak peek into the untold story and has raised our expectations massively.
There are two kinds of film makers: the ones who narrate their story as per the audience's expectations and those who deliver the story in their style, surprise the audience and become trendsetters. Neeraj proudly belongs to the second category.