Theme Week Announcement! Directors I Like (in honor of Gautham Menon’s new movie)

Isn’t that nice and specific? These are not the best directors, or even a fair cross-section of directors, they are just Directors I Like. And you can’t judge me for any of them, even Puri Jugannadh, because there is no accounting for taste.

I’ve got no particular schedule in mind, I’ll write overviews of their styles and careers as I think of it, and I will try to watch some of the movies I haven’t seen yet (especially for Motwane and Imtiaz, I am so close to watching them all). And repost reviews of movies I have already seen. If I come up with a firmer schedule, I will put it in the “upcoming reviews” section on the home page. And if there is a film of these directors that you really think I should try to seek out, now is the time to tell me about it!

Gautham Menon

Tamil film director who makes movies based around the experiences of one central character, usually male. He explores questions of violence, responsibility, sex, masculinity, fatherhood, through long long narratives covering years of his central character’s life. There is no clean beginning and ending, the story goes down dead ends and detours, but if you let yourself go and fall into the flow, he is amazing. Also, his films are impossible to find, so I wish you luck in watching literally ANYTHING he has made, anywhere. Brilliant director, terrible at controlling streaming rights. In a perfect world, you should watch Vaaranam Aayiram.

K. Balachander

The father of Tamil cinema. His movies have a wealth of characters, specific settings, and many many stories that all intersect somehow. And they are beautiful, the black and white and the clear lines, the symbolic imagery, it all just comes together perfectly. His movies, luckily, are easily available. Rajshri Tamil has made most of his classics available, with subtitles, on youtube. If you are going to watch one K. Balachander film, watch Moodru Mudichu (Sridevi’s first movie).

Yash Chopra

Yashji! The nicest man in Hindi cinema, everyone loved him. He is known as the king of the romantic drama, with gorgeous sets and gorgeous actresses and gorgeous everything. But what really made him special was his sensitive feel for the characters. If you are going to watch one Yashji movie, watch Silsila.

Aditya Chopra

Adi! Only 4 movies in his entire career, but all super interesting to think about. A romantic classic, an obvious cash grab, a small smart film, and a light farce. They really have nothing in common, which is perhaps what makes Adi such an interesting director. If you are going to watch one Adi movie in preparation, watch Befikre.

Vikramaditya Motwane

Only 4 movies in his career two, and I’ve only seen half of them. A very hard to pin down director. Each film is in an entirely new genre, and now he is branching out even further with the Netflix series Sacred Games. Maybe what they all have in common is the vulnerability of men? His heroes aren’t perfect, and they can be hurt. Very different from the usual macho feel. If you are going to watch one Motwane movie, watch Udaan.

Imtiaz Ali

Oh Imtiaz! I have such a conflicted relationship with him. Love three movies, neutral about one, absolutely hate another, and still haven’t seen his most critically acclaimed film. All his movies follow the Sufi style, very strange and meditative and metaphorical more than things actually “happening”. He is certainly a unique director. If you are going to watch one Ali movie, make it Socha Na Tha.

Lal Jose

Woot, Malayalam! Lal Jose, like Balachander, has made many many MANY movies. Some classics, some not, but all very pleasant. He is just a pleasant director who makes movies about nice people trying to do nice things. And that is worth of celebrating. If you are going to watch one Lal Jose movie, make it Classmates.

Puri Jagannadh

There is a certain kind of over the top action film that people assume is what Telugu cinema is. It isn’t, there’s a lot more to it, but in that small subset of Telugu films that are over the top action films, Puri Jagannadh is my absolute favorite director. His movies are like cartoons, he knows perfectly well that he is making a big dumb action film and he goes farther than anyone else in the direction of big and dumb. He successfully crosses that invisible line that divides “dumb” from “smart-dumb”. And sometimes also the invisible line that divides “misogyny” from “self-aware making fun of misogyny”. But not always. If you are going to watch one Puri Jagannadh movie, make it Pokiri.

Sekhar Kammula

The opposite of Puri Jagannadh in every way. This is what people don’t assume Telugu films are. Small, human stories based around a strong female lead character. Watch his movies and go “oh, okay, there is more to Telugu cinema than just gunfights.” If you are going to watch one Sekhar Kammula movie, make it Fidaa.


19 thoughts on “Theme Week Announcement! Directors I Like (in honor of Gautham Menon’s new movie)

    • Karan, I feel like I’ve already written sooooooooooooooo much. And Rajamouli, I don’t really know that well. But yaaaay! I’m finally gonna watch Rockstar and Lootera and Trapped! That’s exciting.

      On Sun, Sep 1, 2019 at 8:59 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • I didn’t like Rockstar or Lootera much and I find both movies to be quite overrated. I really wanted to see Trapped when it came out but I sorta forgot about it later. I’m curious to see what you think about it!


        • You are the first person to tell me they found Lootera overrated and weirdly that kind of makes me want to see it more. When everyone agreed it was great, I felt like there was no point in watching it. Now that there is controversy, I want to know!


          • I don’t know how if I’m explaining this properly but I found it to be kind of pretentious. It’s one of those movies that I would definitely consider to be art rather than being a form of entertainment.


  1. No Lijo Jose Pellissery? That’s strange!
    I mean, I got so much insight about his films from this blog!

    Btw, did you know his latest movie “Jallikattu” is premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival (along with Geethu Mohandas/Nivin’s “Moothon”)?

    It seems it’s one of the most keenly awaited movies there with it being called as “India’s Jaws”.


    • I thought about including him, but he felt a little different from the others. This is a collection of directors I personally like, but Lijo is so good I think of him as a universal taste, someone everyone should like. If I do a list of “Best directors” he would be on it along with Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor, but they don’t belong here.


  2. Do u think you can do a theme on the dancers of Hindi films? Male,female and then by decades? Hindi films used to have such good dancers buy not so much now. Especially among the women,we don’t have good dancers at all now compared to the Madhuri,Sridevi,Karishma Kapoor’s and those before them. Somehow athletic agility is mistaken for dancing skills of Tiger & Katrina. Just a thought.


    • Maybe? The dancing is a bit of a chicken and an egg thing. Like, Sridevi never had formal training, but the requirement at the time she started was for heroines to do their own dancing so she learned on set. Now, dancing isn’t as important, so actresses aren’t learning it as part of their work. I’m not sure which came first, bad dancers being heroines or dancing no longer being important so heroines never learned it, you know?

      But I absolutely agree about the athleticism versus grace! Part of the reason I really really want a Hrithik-Tiger dance off. I think Hrithik could mop the floor with him purely in terms of grace. Tiger can leap around all he wants, but Hrithik can do one little hand gesture and be better.

      On Mon, Sep 2, 2019 at 1:07 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. Oof I did not like Rockstar or Lootera at all. It will be interesting to read your reviews on both movies. Also, any chance that you might include Farhan in the mix of directors?


    • Too late! I already did my official list of directors! But yes, Farhan would be an interesting inclusion. I’ve seen and enjoyed all his movies I think. Maybe I will give him a week for his birthday or something?

      On Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 10:39 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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