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Vishal Bhardwaj

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Vishal Bhardwaj
Vishal Bhardwaj 2010 - still 110691 crop.jpg
Bhardwaj at the 7 Khoon Maaf's wrap-up party, 2010
Born (1965-08-04) 4 August 1965 (age 50)
Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, India
Occupation Director, producer, writer, music director, singer
Years active 1995–present
Spouse(s) Rekha Bhardwaj

Vishal Bhardwaj (born 4 August 1965) is an Indian film director, screenwriter, producer, music composer and playback singer. He is known for his works in Hindi cinema, and is the recipient of a Filmfare Award and six National Film Awards in several categories.

Bhardwaj made his debut as a music composer with the children's film Abhay (The Fearless) (1995), followed by Gulzar's Maachis (1996). For Maachis, he received the Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent. He then went on to compose music for films like Satya (1998) and Godmother (1999). For the latter, he garnered the National Film Award for Best Music Direction. Unhappy as a music composer, Bhardwaj made his directorial debut with the horror film Makdee (2002), for which he also composed the music. He has adapted William Shakespeare's tragedies in three of his directorial ventures: Maqbool (2003) from Macbeth, Omkara (2006) from Othello, and Haider (2014) from Hamlet; all of which received critical success. In 2009, Bhardwaj directed the caper thriller Kaminey, followed by the dark comedy 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), and the unsuccessful Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (2013).

Bhardwaj produces films under his banner VB Pictures. He has produced films like Ishqiya (2010), its sequel Dedh Ishqiya (2014) and Talvar (2015). He has composed music for every film of his and frequently collaborates with Gulzar. He is married to playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj.

Personal life[edit]

Bhardwaj was born on 4 August 1965, in Chandpur village, near Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh.[1] His mother Satya Bhardwaj, was a homemaker, and father Ram Bhardwaj, was a sugarcane inspector. His father also wrote poetry and lyrics for Hindi films.[1] He and his family lived in Najibabad until he completed class fifth in school.[2] They later moved to Meerut, where he used to play cricket for the states under-19 team.[2] He had an elder brother, who struggled for years in Mumbai to become a film producer and later died of a heart attack.[2] He composed a song at the age of seventeen. After hearing it, his father discussed it with music director Usha Khanna. She used it for the film Yaar Kasam (1985).[2] Bhardwaj later moved to Delhi to pursue his graduation at the Hindu College, University of Delhi.[3] He met his wife and playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj during the college annual function; where she was a year senior to him.[4] He is also an avid tennis player.[5]


Bhardwaj started playing harmonium for friends who were ghazal singers. After few years, he took up a job with a music company called CBS in Delhi.[2][6] He later came to Mumbai to become a music composer, he took to directing films only to create the opportunity to compose music.[5] His interest in film direction kindled after watching Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994), and Krzysztof Kieślowski's television series The Decalogue, during a film festival in Thiruvananthapuram.[2][6]

Music composer[edit]

In 1995, Bhardwaj made his debut as a music composer for the children's film Abhay (The Fearless).[7] He then went on to compose music for Fauji (1995), and Sanshodhan (1996).[8][9] In 1996, he served as the music director for Gulzar's Maachis (1996), for which he received the Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent.[10] He later collaborated with him on TV serials such as Alice in Wonderland and Gubbare.[11] His further projects included Betaabi (1997), Tunnu Ki Tina (1997), Satya (1998) and Hu Tu Tu (1999).[12][13] At the 46th National Film Awards, Bhardwaj received the National Film Award for Best Music Direction for his critically acclaimed score in Godmother (1999).[14] In 2010, he composed the music for his production venture Ishqiya, which garnered him his second National Film Award for Best Music Direction.[15] He also composed music for Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli, the Hindi dubbed version of the anime adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's original collection of stories, The Jungle Book.[16] Apart from feature films, Bhardwaj has provided music for music albums such as: Sunset Point (2000), Ishqa Ishqa (2002) and Barse Barse (2011).[17][18][19]

He is known for his collaborations with Gulzar, who has provided lyrics to all of his films.[1]

Writer and director[edit]

Bhardwaj made his directorial debut with the horror film Makdee (2002), starring Shabana Azmi, Makarand Deshpande and Shweta Prasad. The film tells the story of twin young girls and an alleged witch in a mansion.[10] It was screened in the Critics' Week (Spotlight on India) section at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.[20]

The next year, Bhardwaj accepted the directing role for Maqbool (2003), an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. The film starred Pankaj Kapur, Irrfan Khan and Tabu in the lead roles and was set against the backdrop of Mumbai underworld. It was screened at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and was showcased at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.[21] Sita Menon of in her review called it "..a visual gallery that is an intelligent blend of dark, tragic overtones and comic, satirical undertones."[22] Maqbool is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.[23][24]

In 2006, Bhardwaj again adapted Shakespeare's tragedy Othello, as Omkara. Set against the backdrop of the political system in Uttar Pradesh, the film had Ajay Devgan as the titular character.[25] It premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and was screened at the Cairo International Film Festival.[26] At the 54th National Film Awards, Bhardwaj received the Special Jury Award for the film.[27] Omkara met with critical acclaim, but was a box-office disappointment.[28] It however opened to positive box-office response in North America and the United Kingdom.[29]

Bhardwaj's next project was the children's film, The Blue Umbrella (2007), based on Ruskin Bond's novel of the same name. It won the National Film Award for Best Children's Film in 2005.[30] His followup was Blood Brothers (2007), a short-film on HIV/AIDS, with a run time of 13 minutes. It tells the story of a young man who, after finding out that he is HIV positive, allows his life to fall apart.[31] It was a part of the 'AIDS JaaGo', a series of four short films, directed by Mira Nair, Santosh Sivan, and Farhan Akhtar in a joint initiative by Nair and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[32] The series premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.[33] The same year, he also served as a writer for Sanjay Gupta's anthology film, Dus Kahaniyaan.[34]

In 2009, Bhardwaj came up with the Caper thriller Kaminey, starring Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra. The film follows the rivalry between identical twins, one with a lisp and one with a stammer. The story was bought by him from a Kenyan writer.[35][36] It opened to generally positive reviews. Anupama Chopra gave a rating of 4 out of 5 and wrote "Kaminey is the best Bollywood film I've seen this year. It's an audacious, original rollercoaster ride. Written and directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, Kaminey requires patience and attention but the pay off is more than worth it."[37] Kaminey was also a financial success earning over 700 million (US$11 million) worldwide.[38]

Bhardwaj in 2012.

7 Khoon Maaf (2011), a film based on the Ruskin Bond's short story, Susanna's Seven Husbands, was Bhardwaj's next directorial venture. The story revolves around Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes (played by Priyanka Chopra) who murders her seven husbands in an unending quest for love. The film was written collaboratively by Bhardwaj, Bond and American writer Matthew Robbins.[39] It released on 18 February 2011 and met with mixed to positive reviews.[40] Zee News in its four out of five star review mentioned: "Vishal Bhardwaj does it again. The maverick filmmaker has once again woven magic with his latest blockbuster Saat Khoon Maaf".[41]

In 2013, Bhardwaj directed Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, a political satire set in the rustic surroundings of a village in Haryana. It starred Anushka Sharma and Imran Khan in the lead roles, with Pankaj Kapur and Shabana Azmi in supporting ones.[42] The film received mixed reviews from critics,[43] and underperformed at the box office.[44][45]

In 2014, Bhardwaj made his stage debut with the opera 'A Flowering Tree’. It was based on a classic folk tale by Kannada writer and scholar A. K. Ramanujan.[46] He completed his William Shakespeare's trilogy with Haider (2014), based on the tragedy Hamlet. Set during the Kashmir conflict of 1995, the film starred Shahid Kapoor in the titular role, for which he along with Bhardwaj charged no money.[47] Haider garnered critical acclaim, though was controversial among Hindu nationalists for its portrayal of the conflict in Kashmir.[48][49] CNN-IBN's Rajeev Masand called it " elegant, thrilling film that casts a brave, unflinching eye on the Kashmir struggle."[50] At the 62nd National Film Awards, Bhardwaj won the Best Music Director and Best Screenplay (Dialogues) award.[51][52] It also received nominations for Best Film and Best Director at the 60th Filmfare Awards.[53]


Bhardwaj has been producing his own films under his banner VB Pictures. In 2010, he produced the black comedy Ishqiya. Starring Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi; the film was directed by debutant Abhishek Chaubey.[54] Chaubey had earlier assisted and co-wrote several of Bhardwaj's film. The film was an average grosser at the box-office.[55] He teamed up with Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Motion Pictures to produce the supernatural thriller Ek Thi Daayan (2013). The film revolves around a magician, who is haunted by a witch, received mixed reviews by critics.[56] It proved to be a profitable venture at the box-office.[57]

His next production venture was Dedh Ishqiya, a sequel to the 2010 film Ishqiya. Starring Madhuri Dixit, Naseeruddin Shah, Huma Qureshi and Arshad Warsi; the film was a critical and commercial success with earning ₹270 million (US$4.1 million) in India and abroad.[58][59] In 2015, Bhardwaj wrote and co-produced Meghna Gulzar's crime drama Talvar. The film was based on the 2008 Noida double murder case, and starred Irrfan Khan, Konkana Sen Sharma and Neeraj Kabi.[60] Talvar premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival,[61] and was released in India on 2 October 2015, to positive reviews from critics.[62]

Playback singer[edit]

Apart from composing music, Bhardwaj has also lend his voice for various songs for films like Omkara,[63] No Smoking (2007),[64] U Me Aur Hum (2008),[65] Kaminey,[66] Striker (2010),[67] 7 Khoon Maaf,[68] Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola and Haider.[69][70]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 1996, Bhardwaj won the Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent for Maachis.[10] He later won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction for Godmother.[14] He then went on to win two consecutive awards: The Blue Umbrella, which won the National Film Award for Best Children's Film,[30] and National Film Award – Special Jury Award for Omkara.[27] Bhardwaj got two Filmfare nominations for Kaminey in Best Director and Best Music Director categories.[71] He won his second National Film Award for Best Music Direction, for his production venture Ishqiya.[15] At the 62nd National Film Awards, Bhardwaj won the Best Music Director and Best Screenplay (Dialogues) award for Haider.[51]


Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released
Title Year Director Producer Screenwriter Music Composer Notes
Abhay (The Fearless) 1995 Yes
Fauji 1995 Yes
Sanshodhan 1996 Yes
Maachis 1996 Yes Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent
Tunnu Ki Tina 1997 Yes
Betaabi 1997 Yes
Sham Ghansham 1998 Yes
Satya 1998 Yes
Chachi 420 1998 Yes
Daya 1998 Yes Malayalam film
Jahan Tum Le Chalo 1999 Yes
Hu Tu Tu 1999 Yes
Godmother 1999 Yes National Film Award for Best Music Direction
Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar 2000 Yes
Choo Lenge Akash 2000 Yes
Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega 2001 Yes
Mulaqaat 2002 Yes
Makdee 2002 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kagaar: Life on the Edge 2003 Yes
Danav 2003 Yes
Chupke Se 2003 Yes
Maqbool 2003 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paanch 2003 Yes Unreleased
Bhagmati 2005 Yes
Ramji Londonwale 2005 Yes
The Blue Umbrella 2005 Yes Yes Yes Yes National Film Award for Best Children's Film
Omkara 2006 Yes Yes Yes National Film Award – Special Jury Award
Nomination—Filmfare Award for Best Director
Nishabd 2007 Yes
Blood Brothers 2007 Yes Yes Short film
No Smoking 2007 Yes Yes
Dus Kahaniyaan 2007 Yes
U Me Aur Hum 2008 Yes
Haal-e-Dil 2008 Yes
Kaminey 2009 Yes Yes Yes Yes Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Director
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Music Director
Ishqiya 2010 Yes Yes Yes National Film Award for Best Music Direction
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Director
7 Khoon Maaf 2011 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola 2013 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ek Thi Daayan 2013 Yes Yes Yes
Dedh Ishqiya 2014 Yes Yes Yes
Haider 2014 Yes Yes Yes Yes National Film Award for Best Screenplay
National Film Award for Best Music Direction
Nomination—Filmfare Award for Best Director
Drishyam 2015 Yes
Talvar 2015 Yes Yes Yes


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External links[edit]