Industry Leaders, Interviews

Hot 100 Directors – Ali Abbas Zafar

With the thumping success of the sports-drama Sultan, director Ali Abbas Zafar completed a hat-trick of hits at the box office having previously helmed the successful Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011) and Gunday (2014). As one of the directorial talents nurtured by Yash Raj Films, Zafar has amply vindicated the faith reposed in him by one of Hindi cinema’s foremost production studios.

This Dehradun native is a bio-chemistry graduate from Delhi’s Kirori Mal College. He neither has a film background nor has he attended film school. But his obsession with films, especially the cinema of Manmohan Desai and Hrishikesh Mukherjee, led him to the Hindi film industry.

Zafar was an assistant director for several Yash Raj Film productions for four-and-a-half years before getting his break as a director. With Sultan, Zafar has honed his skills till they sparkle. In this story of a wrestler (played by Salman Khan) who fights his personal demons and professional failures to come back with a bang, Zafar nimbly balances the sporty elements of the film with interludes of high emotionalism.

He also extracts authentic performances from his actors. Anushka Sharma is feisty as a female wrestler. And, besides showcasing the usual Khan swag, the director also makes the star portray a certain vulnerability, which is usually not seen on the big screen, and hence was a treat to watch. Not to mention the over INR 600 crore that it garnered at the box office, and counting.

Sultan will be showcased at the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival. No wonder Yash Raj Films has placed Zafar at the helm of their next mega venture, Tiger Zinda Hai.

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