10 Greatest Regional Indian Film Directors Of All Time

There are good directors and then there are legends. In India, we have got plenty of languages with the number of states that we have. This versatility reflects in the Indian film industry as well. Bollywood movies are known and appreciated worldwide for their scripts, songs and grandeur. But there are much better movies and movie makers in regional cinemas who were way ahead of their time in terms of techniques, philosophy and making. 

This list is all about the 10 Greatest Regional Indian Film Directors who have set a whole new paradigm in film making. 


1) Satyajit Ray (Bengali)

Satyajit Ray proved himself as a director with his very first film Pather Panjali which narrated the story of two kids, Durga and Apu. The film won National Film Award for the Best Feature Film in 1955 and from then on Ray bagged 25 National Awards in various categories. His films also marked the beginning of the neo-realistic era of films in Indian cinema.


2) Guru Dutt (Hindi)

Guru Dutt was a creator of some of the best classics in the golden era of Bollywood. The director cum actor who portrayed his own life on the silver screen, had an existential undertone in most of his films. Some of his widely recognized films include Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool,Chaudvin Ka Chand and Saheb Bibi Aur Gulam for which he won the National Film Award in 1963


3) Padmarajan (Malayalam)

Padmarajan was a director from the golden era of Malayalam cinema, who dealt mostly with themes of individualism and libertinism. With profound scripting and perfect direction, his film making style is still a touchstone. He dealt with fantasies, and his heroines broke all the conventional norms at a period when almost everything was a taboo for women. 


4) Maniratnam (Tamil)

Maniratnam’s films are finely crafted with fresh and beautiful frames and shots. His fifth directorial Mouna Ragam which released in 1986, established him as one of the best film makers of his era. He is popular for the socio-political themes in his films and for combining both art and commercial aspects of films in his work.


5) Shyam Benegal (Bengali)

Shyam Benegal is a director who created a whole new genre of films in Indian cinema called the ‘middle cinema’, that reflected the changing middle class ethos. Some of his well recognized movies include Ankur, Bhumika, Manthan and Nishant.


6)  Adoor Gopalakrishnan (Malayalam)

Adoor Goaplakrishnan from Kerala was the pioneer of new wave cinema movement in Kerala. The director is popular for his realistic and neo-realistic film making techniques and for his profound scripts. Vidheyan, Elipathaayam, Mathilukal, Anantharam, Kodiyettam, Naalu pennungal etc are some of his outstanding films. The director was garnered several times with National Awards and has also won Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan. 


7) Jahnu Barua (Assamese) 

Jahnu Barua is an Assamese director who has directed over a dozen films in Assamese language and around three films in Hindi. His Hindi film ‘Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara’ released in 2005 gained immense popularity. The 64 year old director was garnered with Padma Awards and National Film Awards. 


8) V. Shantaram ( Marathi)

V Shantaram is the maker of ‘Manoos’, a film released in 1939 which is remembered even today for its bold theme and realism. The director had visited the brothels of red street in Mumbai to assure that his film gets a realistic look. His film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival (1951) and was also honored with Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Padma awards and National Film Awards.


9) Mrinal Sen ( Bengali )

Mrinal Sen’s movies were popular for its tragic or rather dark endings, but were acclaimed critically for in depth scripting, characterization, perfection and  philosophies. He mostly gave an existential, surrealistic or neo-realistic approach to his films. The several time National Award winning director was also honored with Padma Bhushan. 


10) Bala (Tamil)

The director who has worked with almost all the top level actors and actresses in Tamil cinema is popular for his offbeat films. The director who won National Film Award for Best Director in 2010 for Naan Kadavul has also directed classic films like Sethu, Nandha, Pithamagan and Paradesi. 

Article : Lakshmi.C