New Delhi: Vikas Bahl’s Shandaar may not have lived up to its grand title, but the director continues to be remembered for his path-breaking Queen released last year. Like a lot of filmmakers, Bahl took some time to come into his own. His directorial debut, Chillar Party (2011), though a National Award-winner, was a children’s film with limited reach.

Here are 10 other directors who didn’t taste success in the first few attempts, but are at the top of the game today.

Anurag Kashyap: Kashyap’s first film Paanch (2003), a crime-thriller, faced financial and censor issues and never managed to get a theatrical or home video release. His second movie Black Friday (2007) was delayed by several years owing to a stay order by the Bombay high court, while his third No Smoking (2007) opened to highly negative reviews and dismal collections of around 3 crore. It was only Dev D, a contemporary adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Devdas and released in 2009, that earned Kashyap about 13 crore and much praise for his brand of filmmaking. The Gangs of Wasseypur series (2012) and Ugly (2014) followed and despite a fiasco like Bombay Velvet this year, his next film is keenly awaited.

Anurag Basu: Having started his career on television, Basu’s first project was the Tusshar Kapoor-starrer Kucch To Hai (2003) for Ekta Kapoor which he left mid-way. He went on to direct a bunch of forgettable flicks for Mahesh Bhatt’s Vishesh Films (Saaya, Murder and Tumsa Nahi Dekha). The breakthrough happened with Kangana Ranaut’s debut in Gangster (2006). Basu followed it with memorable films like Life in a... Metro (2007) and Barfi! (2012), which crossed 100 crore at the box office. His next, Jagga Jasoos starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif is slated for a 2016 release.

Ashutosh Gowariker: Gowariker made his directorial debut with a film called Pehla Nasha (1993), starring Deepak Tijori, Raveena Tandon and Pooja Bhatt that received poor reviews and made 97 lakh at the box office. Then came Aamir Khan and Mamta Kulkarni-starrer Baazi (1995). Six years later, Gowariker made Lagaan that not just broke box office records with earnings of 25 crore but also became the third Indian film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Gowariker followed it with critically acclaimed films like Swades (2004) and Jodha Akbar (2008) and is currently filming Mohenjo Daro with Hrithik Roshan.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra: Ad filmmaker Mehra has made several popular television commercials. But his first feature film Aks (2001) starring Amitabh Bachchan was panned for its esoteric feel and earned a little over 5 crore at the box office. Mehra bounced back with Rang De Basanti in 2006 that earned him more than 31 crore and every best director award that year besides getting selected as India’s entry to the Oscars.

Aanand L. Rai: Rai started his career with a forgettable psychological thriller Strangers (2007), starring Jimmy Shergill, and went on to Thodi Life Thoda Magic (2008) with Parmeet Sethi in the lead role. Success came with Tanu Weds Manu in 2011, stayed with Raanjhana in 2013 and multiplied with Tanu Weds Manu Returns in 2015. The last three films have together earned nearly 250 crore.

Meghna Gulzar: She may have broken the mould with the recently-released Talvar. But it hasn’t been an easy journey for Meghna Gulzar. Her first film Filhaal (2002) on surrogate motherhood earned a little over 1 crore at the box office and barely made an impact. Her second, Just Married (2007) met with a similar fate. She also directed a short film for Sanjay Gupta’s anthology Dus Kahaniyaan (2007) that went unnoticed.

Imtiaz Ali: Ali made the moderately successful Socha Na Tha, starring Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia in 2005. He also penned the script for another Abhay Deol-starrer Ahista Ahista the same year. But the tables turned with Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor-starrer Jab We Met in 2007 that earned 13 crore at the box office, and remains one of the most loved romantic comedies of the new millennium. Hits like Love Aaj Kal (2009) and Rockstar (2011) brought in another 80 crore. Ali’s latest Tamasha, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, releases next month.

Rahul Dholakia: Dholakia first directed Jimmy Shergill, Kim Sharma and Paresh Rawal in a comedy called Kehta Hai Dil Baar Baar (2002) that failed miserably at the box office. But his second film Parzania (2005) on the Gujarat riots of 2002 won both him and his lead actor Sarika a national award and brought him much attention. Dholakia is currently directing Shah Rukh Khan in Excel Entertainment’s Raees.

Sanjay Gadhvi: Gadhvi started with a romantic musical called Tere Liye in 2001, featuring a bunch of unknown faces. He then joined Yash Raj Films, first directing Uday Chopra and Jimmy Shergill-starrer Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (2002) for them. Both films failed at the box office. However, Gadhvi soon struck gold with Dhoom (2004), which he followed with Dhoom 2 (2006), the two together earning 65 crore at the box office.

Zoya Akhtar: Her first film Luck By Chance (2009) was a resounding flop at the box office. But she made up with the coming-of-age drama Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) that not only won her every best director award but also brought in collections of more than 90 crore.

All figures have been sourced from movie websites Bollywood Hungama and IBOS Network.

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