In a short span of time, writer-director Zoya Akhtar has built a swell filmography. Her stories are today, her characters relatable and her work rings with a certain authenticity and sincerity. One of the better mainstream voices out there, Zoya has a way with audience, across ages. Her last film, Gully Boy was India’s official entry for the Oscars, although it didn’t make the cut. Akhtar’s next is a gangster drama which will mark her third collaboration with Ranveer Singh. Her most recent work Made in Heaven is among the best Indian TV shows on Amazon Prime right now.
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5. Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)
The multi-starrer featuring Anil Kapoor, Shefail Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar is a story of a dysfunctional family; the characters and conflicts are real and relatable. Zoya takes the problems of upper-class Indian society and turns it into a touching, heart-warming and every bit entertaining family drama about love and relationships.
4. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
Zoya Akhtar’s bromance chronicles a journey three friends undertake, that changes their lives and their perception of it. Reminiscent of the modern classic Dil Chahta Hai (2001) that celebrates friendship, Zoya Akhtar’s sophomore effort touches a similar vein. A character-driven film, each of who share a beautiful, easygoing chemistry, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a refreshing change from the regular mainstream offerings. The film warrants a repeat viewing for the real, sensitive portrayal of its characters. They are raw, fresh and effortless in their projection. Credits for which are due to the captain of the ship Zoya Akhtar as much as the cast — Farhan Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, Kalki Koechlin — and Javed Akhtar whose poems add depth both add to the characters and the narrative.
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3. Luck By Chance (2009)
Unlike most Bollywood films, songs do not lead here. It is purely the story line. On the bull horn for the first time, Zoya Akhtar did a fine job. From the drifting ad man I met in 1998 where I fell asleep on his couch talking late into the night at his Bandra home, Farhan Akhtar has made his mark. But his luck is not by chance. The movie was a peek into his real life’s philosophy about claiming success rather than waiting for destiny to hand it over. The film was simple, and well executed. No fuss, a lot of truths about the behaviour of the film industry and a straight forward plot. (Read full review of Luck by Chance here | By Anil Srivatsa)
2. Lust Stories (2018)
It’s hard not to associate ‘lust’ with ‘sex’ when you think Hindi cinema. Films that explore this theme/genre fail to rise above insipid, lacklustre writing and shoddy visuals. Those that narrate it with subtlety and a sense of purpose are few and far between. With Lust Stories, filmmakers — Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap forego the trappings of commercial cinema; they uninhibitedly explore human desires and relationships, how we perceive them today and the taboos that have been associated with them for generations.
Zoya does a fantastic job with her segment. Hers is a well-brewed story, one that leaves you discomfited and satiated simultaneously. A rare feat for a Hindi film. Bhumi Pednekar is a wonder! She casts a spell with her unerring restraint.
Watch Lust Stories on Netflix
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1. Gully Boy
Gully Boy is a bare, raw and fierce portrayal of life for the less fortunate. It functions as a bildungsroman, weaving a heart-touching tale of an ordinary man who rises up to be clad in the vestiture of stardom.
Gully Boy gives us a feel-good ending where the flawed protagonist goes from rags to riches, as he turns his miserable reality into an almost unbelievable victory against all odds. The popular track, ‘Apna Time Aayega’ summifies the essence of the film. One up for Zoya Akhtar who takes the reins and steers Gully Boy to incredible commercial and critical success. It’s one hell of an incredibly well-made film and Zoya’s finest in her filmography.
The Ranveer and Alia-starrer was India’s official entry in the foreign film category at the 92nd Academy Awards. Although, it failed to make the cut.
Do you agree with our rankings? What are her #top3 films, according to you? Let’s talk in the comments below.
By Team Flickside