Cruising on success

Cruising on success

Hindi cinema has been blessed with directors of legendary status. Some were men of drama like Manmohan Desai and Subhash Ghai, who could make a pooja ceremony in a temple look like the opening ceremony of the Olympics.


Hindi cinema has been blessed with directors of legendary status. Some were men of drama like Manmohan Desai and Subhash Ghai, who could make a pooja ceremony in a temple look like the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Some were masters of saga style storytelling like Yash Chopra. And a few took it upon themselves to give society messages like V Shantaram. Some filmmakers came later on to tell us how society needs rebellion like Rajkumar Santoshi.

A few directors were kings of epic romance like Karan Johar and Sanjay Leela Bansali. Some had their grip on the middle-class like Hrishikesh Mukherji and Basu Chatterji. Some could rule any genre when in form like Ram Gopal Verma. David Dhawan for the purists might be a little difficult to push in here.

Different from all these men mentioned above David Dhawan just wanted to have fun along with his audience. Like Yash Chopra, David Dhawan took his time to discover that his true calling was in comedy. Unlike Yash Chopra’s shifting to romance being a big loss to the genre of drama and violence – David Dhawan’s tectonic shift to comedy has been Indian cinema’s biggest gains.

For the trivia hungry, let me tell you that David Dhawan has been the man who single-handedly made a lot many ‘down in the dump’ actors rediscover their career. In fact, his first big box office hit in the year 1990 was ‘Swarg’ – when he partnered with Govinda for the second time. ‘Swarg’ had a then down and out Rajesh Khanna in a pivotal role. No one expected anything from this one and ‘Swarg’ went on to become the second biggest money spinner of 1990. David was still dismissed as one of those fluke successes.

Then came 1992 and Govinda, who was then passing through his career’s biggest lean phases delivered another big unexpected hit called ‘Shola Aur Shabnam’. The purists remained defined to the talent and in fact, leading dailies blamed ‘Shola Aur Shabnam’s success on the falling taste of the Indian audience.

The same year David Dhawan delivered ‘Bol Radha Bol’ and slowly the masses started recognising the “Directed by David Dhawan” name on the posters. The traditionalists were now convinced Dhawan was the new B-Grade money spinner. The outsider who was disturbing their prediction patterns of what will work on the box office.

Then came 1993 and Dhawan delivered ‘Aankhen’ the biggest hit of that year, while the purists were fuming at the “vulgar” content, audiences were bringing the house down with roaring laughs and producers laughed all the way to the bank. Suddenly, Dhawan was the king of comedy genre and Govinda was the biggest thing in spontaneous comedy since the legend – Kishore Kumar.

While the purists and the A-Listers continued to laugh at the loud cinema of Dhawan, slowly every actor and actress wanted to be in a Dhawan movie. It meant at least one “pakka” hit in the days of the cable TV menace, where big names were crashing at the box office. Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Juhi Chawla and even the Big B came into the Dhawan fold to ensure box office sales.

As much as the industry needed him as hypocrisy goes Dhawan was never accorded his due as one of our better content makers who gave money’s worth consistently to his audience. Sure most of his movies were inspired from elsewhere but same could be said about some of our biggest classics like ‘Deewar’ and ‘Sholay’ too. It did not matter that for the audience; David Dhawan remained an A-Lister entertainment provider, for the highbrow, David Dhawan remained still unrecognised.

Things, however, changed once David Dhawan continued delivering hits without his lucky mascot, Govinda. ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karogi’ and ‘Main Tera Hero’ proved that Dhawan knew his art and each time any of his movies failed he came back sharper.

The biggest point in favour of David Dhawan with the success of the latest Judwaa 2 is this – barring Yash Chopra no other director has been able to stretch his success across three decades. Look where Subhash Ghai’s cinema is today – with all due respect to the great work he has done in the past.

It is high time we counted David Dhawan one amongst Indian cinema’s greatest, else we are no different than those who promote the class divide.

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