Pankaj Advani (director)

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This article is about the Film Director. For the Snooker Player, see Pankaj Advani.
Pankaj Advani (Director)
Pankaj Advani
Born (1965-08-01)1 August 1965
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Died 11 November 2010(2010-11-11) (aged 45)
Mumbai, India.
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, film editor, theatre director, photographer, painter

Pankaj Advani (Hindi: पंकज आडवाणी) (Sindhi: پنڪج آڊواڻِي )(1 August 1965 – 11 November 2010) was an Indian film director, film editor, screenplay writer, photographer, theatre director, and painter, most known as co-writer of Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993) and director of Hindi dark comedy, Sankat City (2009).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Pankaj was born in Lucknow and grew up in the small town of Veraval in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat state. As a young boy he was drawn to the magical world of cinema and as a first step wrote, acted, and directed for his school plays.

He obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in painting from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. At the Faculty of Fine Arts, he specialised in photography and built up a portfolio of photographs. While in Baroda he participated in playwright and film-maker, Habib Tanvir's workshop. He wrote and directed black comedies under his supervision (Andher Nagari and others) that participated in college festivals. He then went on to do his Diploma in Editing at the Film and Television Institute of India-Pune, receiving a merit scholarship for his academic excellence.


After graduating from FTII-Pune, Pankaj returned to Baroda and put up a theatrical production of his black comedy Kataria Gul Hui Gawa.

Pankaj's next attempt was a short film Highway (19-minute video shot in Baroda about a woman who asks for a lift from a stranger in a car on a deserted highway) which participated in the South Asian Short Film Festival in Colombo and the International Short and Independent Film Festival-Dhaka.[2]

Pankaj was the co-writer of Kundan Shah's 1993 Shahrukh Khan-Suchitra Krishnamurthy starrer Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa which went on to win the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie.[3] A script for an unreleased film Loveria starring Saif Ali Khan and Karisma Kapoor was written during this period.

His first big break in films came when he won a script competition held by Children's Film Society of India (CFSI) for his Sunday.[4] He shot it in his home town in Saurashtra, Gujarat. Sunday won the National Film Award for the Best Short Fiction Film (director and producer CSFI) in 1994 at the 41st National Film Festival.[5] This film also won the National Award for the Best Music Director. It was shown in the Indian Panorama Section of the 25th International Film Festival of India, Calcutta; the Asian Panorama section of 8th International Children's Film Festival, Udaipur;[6] and has participated in other festivals including Cairo International Children's Film Festival and 11th Annual Chicago International Children's Film Festival.[7]

The same year Pankaj won an award for his script Shadow Boxer at NFDC, but he was unable to get the film into production.[8]

Pankaj faced many hurdles in garnering funds for his unconventional films but continued to work even with low budgets. He forayed into TV when Shashanka Ghosh, the then head of Channel [V], who, impressed with his film Sunday and 'quirky' ideas created a tiny space for him in the channel for experimentation, starting off with the promo the dark 'Anarkali Petticoat Show' which got a special mention at the Promax Awards and subsequent shows like Toofan TV and Bheja Fry. His long association with Channel [V] provided him with a platform to showcase his creative ideas albeit on very low budgets.

In 2000 Pankaj received a '1.3 million – 13 days no-holds barred on creative aspect' offer from Digital Talkies which he grabbed and gave birth to the now iconoclastic, underground, cult classic Urf Professor.[9] This black comedy got the Best Film Award at the International Digital Film Festival India and[10] best editing at KaraFilm Fest (Pakistan).[11] It screened at Dahlonega Film Festival;[12] Philippines Digital Film;[13] and participated in Inscreen International Film Festival (July 2006). With support of Shekhar Kapur (guest of honour at International Digital Film Festival of India); Pankaj, Roger Savage (sound engineer, Moulin Rouge), and Jill Billcock (editor, Moulin Rouge) collaborated at 'Sound Firm', Australia, to make a version more suited for an English-speaking audience; the effort came to a naught. It could not get certification from the Censor Board in India for its explicit content.

Shripal Morakia of iDream Production gave him a chance to make his stylised, surreal, psychological thriller Cape Karma.[14] Cape Karma, shot in the winter of 2005 in Dundee, Scotland with its non-linear story telling and undercurrents of violence and disconcerting sexual theme proved to be much ahead of its times for an Indian audience and is one of Pankaj's least-seen films.

Pankaj's only film to be released commercially in theatres was Sankat City presented by Moser-Baer in July 2009. Bollywood, too, gave its approval and this poorly publicised film got due credit with nominations in half-a-dozen categories coming its way at the Nokia 16th Star Screen Awards 2010, Max Stardust Awards 2010, and 55th Filmfare Awards.

Awards, nominations, and honours[edit]



Urf Professor[edit]

  • 2003: Best Editing at Kara Film Festival, Karachi, Pakistan
  • 2001: Best Film at the International Digital Film Festival, India


Sankat City[edit]

  • 2010
  • 2010: Nominated for Best Director, Searchlight Awards, Max Stardust Awards.
  • 2010: Nominated for Best Film, Searchlight Awards, Max Stardust Awards.
  • 2009: Nominated for Most Promising Debut Director, Nokia 16th Star Screen Awards.
  • 2009: Nominated for Best Ensemble Cast, Nokia 16th Star Screen Awards.
  • 2009: Nominated for Best Screenplay Nokia 16th Star Screen Awards.


  • 2010: Honorable Member of Animation Jury at the 20th Cairo International Children's Film Festival in 2010.[15]

Career graph[edit]

2009 Sankat City Director, writer
2006 Naina Consulting Editor
2005 Cape Karma Director, writer
2001 Urf Professor Director, editor, writer, and Associate Producer
1993 Sunday Director, editor, writer, and Executive Producer
1993 Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa Co-writer. (Story and Screenplay)
---- Loveria Co-writer
1992 Highway Director,Writer, producer
1998 Bheja Fry- Channel [V] Director, writer
1997 Toofan TV-Channel [V] Director, writer
1995 Aan Ban & Break Ke Baad [Zee Cinema] (film based shows) Director, writer, editor
1994 Photo studio [BiTV] Director, writer
1997 V.K.Krishnamenon by G.Aravindan Editor
2000 Kal Ki Haseen Mulaquat Director
1989 Kataria Gul Hui Gawa Director, writer, producer


On 11 November 2010, Pankaj Advani died of sudden cardiac arrest in Mumbai, India age 45.[16]


External links[edit]