Part of the fun of being at Film Companion is that sometimes you get to play casting directors of imaginary Indian versions of your favourite foreign TV shows, or make a list of movie characters from the last decade you’d like to go on dates with. This time we did something different. Pair up directors and actors we’d like to see work together. Some of them are intended to be taken seriously.
Nagraj Manjule and Ranbir Kapoor
With only two features, Fandry and Sairat, Nagraj has established himself as one of the most exciting directors in the country. Ranbir is Hindi cinema’s premier practitioner of non-acting acting. There is a languid ease even in his most ferocious roles (Rockstar, Bombay Velvet). Nagraj is a fiercely political, Dalit filmmaker who comes from a village in Maharashtra. Ranbir is Bollywood royalty. Imagine the combination of the filmmaker’s searing, scarring storytelling with a legacy actor who has talent and charisma to burn. I suspect it would be magic.
Konkona Sen Sharma and Deepika Padukone
Konkona has only directed one film — A Death in the Gunj. But it’s enough to gauge her control on the craft and her keen eye for human frailty, emotion and sadness. Deepika is of course a superstar but watch what she does in the less flashy films like Piku or Chhapak and you get a sense of the depths she can plumb. Imagine the two together, creating a film that moves beyond easy messaging and politics, to create a living, breathing portrait of a lady. It might even have that alchemy that allows a film to fill local theatres and play at festivals abroad — imagine the two of them on that red carpet at Cannes. What a photo-op!
Priyanka, Deepika, Alia, Kareena with Siddharth Anand/Rohit Shetty
We need a War for women. An unapologetically gorgeous, high-octane action movie in which each one gets to look as delicious as Hrithik Roshan did in that film; they get entries in high speed and long takes; they should hang from helicopters and leap from buildings and do it all in high-heels; none of them need love angles but a few good men as eye candy are acceptable. This should be entertaining, seductive and suitably shallow. In other words, perfect. Anupama Chopra
Vasan Bala and Hrithik Roshan
Vasan Bala and Hrithik Roshan coming together for an indie action flick is the coolest director-actor pairing waiting to happen. Hrithik, who has made a bit of a comeback last year and has promised to be more “reckless”, needs to go small-scale. And Bala could do with a big star at his disposal, after the underperformance of the inventive and heartfelt Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. Hrithik has begun to display a newfound self-awareness that I can see fit right into Bala’s uncynical worldview. This is a serious proposal doubling as career advice, not to be dismissed as a fanboy fantasy. Sankhayan Ghosh
Manikandan and Rajinikanth
This was supposed to happen, with the upcoming Kadaisi Vivasayi. In a Film Companion interview, the Kaaka Muttai director spoke about how much he wanted Superstar for the part — but alas, it was not to be. So let’s rewind this situation again and pretend it can happen. Or rather, pretend it should happen. Because with only a few films left in his career, Rajini needs to remind the world of what an actor he can be. Two, Manikandan deserves to go wider, and this is something this star can help win. It’s a great win-win situation.
Dileesh Pothan and Dhanush
Actually, Dhanush with any of this new-gen of filmmakers. It could also be Madhu Narayanan, who made Kumbalangi Nights. It could also be Aashiq Abu, who made Mayanadhi. The idea is that, for all his phenomenal talent, Dhanush is still constrained in a box in Tamil cinema. Perhaps with the help of a new-gen writer like Syam Pushkaran, the actor’s vulnerable side could get more of an outing. Besides, it’s time someone gave Fahadh Faasil some serious competition in the eye-acting department.
Zoya Akhtar and Salman Khan
Yes, yes, it sounds strange, but there’s a twinkle-in-the-eye playfulness in both these talents. It would be great to see Zoya apply her sensibilities to a masala or even a “mass” movie. (Hey, if we are dreaming, why not! We even have a title ready: Luck Bhai Chance!) And it would be great to see Bhai in the hands of someone who takes scripting and character definition seriously. Remember what big hits Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan were. That Salman needs to be on screen again. Baradwaj Rangan
Vikramaditya Motwane and Shah Rukh Khan
After years of reactive choices, Shah Rukh Khan is currently straddling an awkward bridge between superstar and actor. In order to enter the next phase of what should now be a character-driven career, there’s a lot of star-performing he needs to “unlearn” before tapping into those reserves of talent. Vikramaditya Motwane is one of the foremost and diverse craftspeople in the industry – an all-round storyteller whose failures, too, are far more fascinating than mainstream successes. Both need a challenge to test their versatility, and I’m convinced that they might complete each other’s puzzles. Rahul Desai
Dibakar Banerjee and Shah Rukh Khan
As SRK gets older you can see that he’s struggling with film choices that are both age appropriate and service his stardom. This may be the perfect time to put him in the hands of a filmmaker like Dibakar who will definitely strip him off his outsized stardom, won’t give into his arm stretching, and challenge the actor in him with a part we’ve never seen him in before. Perhaps we’ll get a darker, angrier and restrained SRK. Mohini Chaudhuri
Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Roshan Mathew
Mathew has a naturalism in his gait that is milked by his directors. Bhansali’s exaggerated reality might at first seem at odds with Mathew’s more muted approach, but I think he can do to Mathew what he did to Jim Sarbh in Padmaavat, that is bring out something eccentric out of something reticent. Prathyush Parasuraman