Aditya Chopra and his penchant for giving second chances

One of the major characteristics of Yash Raj Films (YRF) is how it nurtures talent and gives several chances to directors and artistes in spite of their initial failures.

For example, Kabir Khan’s directorial debut Kabul Express (2006) wasn’t a commercial success but the director still got an opportunity to direct two more major Yash Raj Films — New York (2009) and Ek Tha Tiger (2012).

Both did well at the box office, especially Ek Tha Tiger, which laid the foundation for the flourishing spy universe.

Here’s the list of Bollywood celebrities who won multiple opportunities from the YRF chief Aditya Chopra despite their failures:

Maneesh Sharma

Maneesh Sharma has directed five films — all for YRF.

The first is the romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) starring Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma. The movie had low expectations, but Maneesh and Ranveer surprised the audiences.

A poster of the film Tiger 3

A poster of the film ‘Tiger 3’. (X)

Maneesh’s second film too was a Ranveer-starrer: Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011). Though it didn’t replicate the success of his debut, the Bollywood movie didn’t break Aditya Chopra’s trust in the director.

A third film, Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), was offered to him again. It was an engaging romantic comedy dealing with how the younger generation looked at marriage commitment in small-town India. The movie also dwelt on live-in relationships.

Its success led to Maneesh Sharma getting his fourth opportunity with the YRF — to direct Shah Rukh Khan in a double role. As the title Fan (2016) suggested, the film was about an obsessive fan who gets heartbroken with his idol.

Maneesh Sharma did a decent job in the first half, but the young director lost his grip in the second half, and everything went topsy-turvy.

In spite of the failure of Fan, Maneesh got yet another opportunity to direct a large-scale action film — Tiger 3 (2023).

Maneesh Sharma aimed to make a geo-political film with a lot of action. However, his inability to handle big scale once again came to the fore.

The hand-to-hand combats, Emraan Hashmi’s characterisation, and Shah Rukh’s extended cameo were all brilliant in Tiger 3. But the film never rose above the sum of its parts.

There is no denying that Tiger 3 is doing good business, but having said that, it is also a setback for the spy universe, particularly in comparison to the previous two films War (2019) and Pathaan (2023).

Vijay Krishna Acharya

Vijay Krishna Acharya made his directorial debut with the action drama Tashan (2008). The film had a galaxy of stars — Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Anil Kapoor.

It was an old-fashioned revenge drama in Hollywood style. True to the title, the film had plenty of style, particularly the characterisation of Akshay Kumar’s Bachchan Pandey.

A still from the film Thugs of Hindostan

A still from the film ‘Thugs of Hindostan’. (X)

But, just gloss can never substitute for a gripping story. And, that was what happened with Tashan too.

Kareena definitely found her soul mate in Saif Ali Khan and vice-versa, but for Aditya Chopra, the movie was a big loss.

However, Tashan‘s failure did not stop the producer from trusting Vijay Krishna Acharya again with the third instalment of the Dhoom franchise.

Vijay Krishna Acharya was only a story writer for the first two Dhoom films (2004, 2006) but for Dhoom 3 (2013), he was both writer and director.

Dhoom 3 did bring in profits for its producers, but at the same time, it was a step back as it paled in comparison to the fun and thrills provided by Dhoom 2.

Only Aamir Khan’s star power coupled with a more engaging second half made Dhoom 3 a hit at the box office.

Aditya Chopra was even more generous when he allowed Vijay Krishna Acharya to direct Bollywood “Shahenshah” Amitabh Bachchan and Mr Perfectionist Aamir Khan together in Thugs of Hindostan (2018).

Unfortunately, for the fans and the production house, the experience was far from memorable. The film brought huge losses to everyone concerned.

Vijay Krishna Acharya’s last directorial is a religious comedy/drama titled The Great Indian Family (2023) also produced by YRF.

Despite being a much better product than Thugs of Hindostan, The Great Indian Family didn’t do much at the box office. Now, we have to wait and see if Aditya Chopra will give him another chance.

Shaad Ali

Shaad Ali was an assistant director to Mani Ratnam for Dil Se (1998).

Later on, he helmed seven films as a director. Of these seven projects, four were produced by YRF.

A poster of the film Kill Dil

A poster of the film ‘Kill Dil’. (X)

The first is the romantic comedy/drama Saathiya (2002), a remake of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil blockbuster hit Alaipayuthey (2000). Saathiya was a moderate success and was well-received by the critics.

Before Saathiya, Rani Mukherjee had only seen limited success. With the film, her career saw a resurgence. For Vivek Oberoi, it was the third success of that year.

Shaad Ali’s second outing, Bunty Aur Babli (2005), also did well at the box office.

It gave Abhishek Bachchan a much-needed hit as the leading man. His sizzling chemistry with Rani Mukherjee also helped the movie become a blockbuster.

Later, Shaad Ali faced massive roadblocks in the form of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007) and Kill Dil (2014).

Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was an expensive musical that brought no profits. It had a hit soundtrack composed by Shankar Ehsaan Loy. But good music and glossy cinematography couldn’t compensate for the lacklustre direction.

Shaad Ali was clearly not comfortable dealing with a story of this scale.

Despite Jhoom Barabar Jhoom‘s failure, the director helmed another YRF film — Ranveer Singh’s Kill Dil (2014). It was an action comedy film about two assassins raised by a local gangster. Here too, there was ample style but little substance.

Shaad Ali’s journey with YRF has come to a stop for now.

Siddarth P Malhotra

Siddarth P Malhotra’s debut directorial was We Are Family (2010). It is an official adaption of Stepmom (English, 1998).

Rani Mukherjee in Hichki

Rani Mukherjee in ‘Hichki’.(X)

The film was produced by Karan Johar and had the likes of Kajol and Kareena Kapoor.

It had all the elements required to be a solid emotional drama, but Siddarth P Malhotra couldn’t do complete justice to it.

Despite We Are Family’s failure, the young director got an opportunity to helm a YRF film starring Aditya Chopra’s life partner, Rani Mukherjee.

Hichki (2018) was about a teacher with a passion for teaching in spite of suffering from Tourette syndrome and the impact she has on students of class 9F.

These students come from a nearby slum and are not interested in studies. Rani Mukherjee, as Naina Mathur, transforms their lives with patience and perseverance. Hichki was a classic underdog story that resonated well with the audience.

Siddarth P Malhotra showed that Aditya Chopra’s trust in him wasn’t misplaced.

Karan Malhotra

Just like Siddarth P Malhotra, Karan Malhotra, too, started his career with Dharma Productions.

He directed the action drama Agneepath (2012), a remake of the 1990 film of the same name.

A poster of the film Shamshera

A poster of the film ‘Shamshera’. (X)

While the original film had Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role, the remake had Hrithik Roshan and two terrifying villains, Rishi Kapoor’s Rauf Lala and Sanjay Dutt’s Kancha Cheena

Agneepath was a well-made masala film that registered good numbers at the box office.

Later, Karan Malhotra directed Brothers (2015), also a remake. However, the source material this time was an English film titled Warrior (2011). He tried to replicate the success of Agneepath with the same treatment, but this time, the results were far from satisfying.

The failure of Brothers led to Karan Malhotra stepping out of Dharma Productions.

After a gap of seven years, Karan Malhotra directed Shamshera (2022) produced by Aditya Chopra.

The film was a period-action drama about an oppressed tribe with a double dose of Ranbir Kapoor. Ranbir gave it his all, but the movie ended up being a poor clone of the Baahubali (2015 and 2017) films.

Unlike the other Malhotra, this Malhotra couldn’t live up to the expectations of the YRF Chairman.

Pradeep Sarkar

Late Pradeep Sarkar directed five films. Of them, three were produced by YRF.

These include Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007), Lafangey Parindey (2010) and Mardaani (2014). Among these, only Mardaani did good business.

Not many would have trusted the Parineeta (2005) director with a subject like Mardaani, but the late Pradeep Sarkar ensured that Aditya Chopra’s trust in him was not misplaced.

Mardaani is a significant film in the career of Rani Mukherjee. 

Rani Mukherjee in ‘Mardaani’. (X)

Vani Kapoor

Vani Kapoor has acted in seven films so far. Out of seven, five were produced by YRF.

The Bollywood diva started her career promisingly with Shuddh Desi Romance. But her next outing, Aaha Kalyanam (2014), a Tamil-telugu remake of Band Baaja Baaraat produced by YRF (the only South film bankrolled by YRF) was a dud.

Despite Aaha Kalyanam’s failure, Vani Kapoor was paired opposite Ranveer Singh in Befikre (2016). Unfortunately, neither the film nor Vani could create any impact.

Still, she was cast in another YRF film – War (2019). But there wasn’t much heavy lifting for her, as the focus was primarily on Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff.

The actress was last seen in another YRF dud Shamshera (2022).

Vani Kapoor will next be seen in the web show Mandala Murders, co-produced by Aditya Chopra.

Here’s hoping that the actress will finally be able to repay the trust of her mentor.

Manushi Chillar

Manushi Chhillar has acted in two movies so far. Both were bankrolled by Aditya Chopra.

In spite of the failure of Samrat Prithviraj (2022), YRF gave her another chance in The Great Indian Family, which again was a failure.

The actress is a good looker, but she hasn’t proved her acting credentials until now!

She will be next seen in Operation Valentine alongside Varun Tej. The Telugu actor is making his debut in Bollywood with this Telugu-Hindi bilingual. It is hitting the screens on 8 December.

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