Hrishi Da: The Master Director of Bollywood
Starting from stars like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar to the generation of Amitabh Bacchan and Dharmendra, Hrishikesh Mukherjee has breathed life into Hindi Cinema with his path-breaking films. Get you popcorns ready to read through the life journey of this maestro.
Hrishi Da with Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan on the sets of Anand, Image Source- Mumbai Mirror

Born on 30th September 1922

"Babumoshai, zindagi lambi nahi badi honi chahiye…"

The filmy keeda in us can not deny quoting this famous dialogue from the film Anand, once in a lifetime. The movie starred Rajesh Khanna (as Anand) and the then-budding star Amitabh Bachhan (as Dr Bhaskar).

Anand was one of a kind. Something that the Indian audience had never seen before. Based on the ethos of a cancer patient, the film explores the themes of life, death and love. The budding friendship between Anand and Dr Bhaskar teaches the latter that, indeed, you must live a life full of happiness rather than focusing on the shortcomings. Coupled with the powerful dialogues of Gulzar and mesmerising music of Salil Choudhary, Anand set a new benchmark in Hindi Cinema. The maker of Anand and many such hit films, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, remains immortalised in the common memory.

Mukherjee took baby steps into the world of cinema and built his skills through hard work and perseverance. Initially, he worked as a cameraman and then as an editor in New Theatres during the 1940s in then Calcutta. At the onset of the 1950s, he moved to Bombay to make a name for himself. The city of dreams was like an ocean full of opportunities that welcomed Mukherjee wholeheartedly. Mukherjee was involved in assisting Bimal Roy when the latter made his landmark films, Devdas and Do Bigha Zameen.

After gaining enough experience, he started making his own films. His first directorial debut, Musafir, was met with a cold response. But he did not lose hope and resolved to do better. His second film Anari, starring Raj Kapoor, was a big hit. The film alone won as many as five Filmfare awards. Mukherjee's career soared high in no time.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the iconic filmmaker, Image Source- News 18

The X-factor behind Mukherjee's films were his unique narrative style and its theme. His movies generally focused on the lives of ordinary, middle-class people. The narrative would be driven by the trials and tribulations of characters and the moral dilemmas they come across in their lives, only to meet a definite resolution. This kind of genre today is identified with 'feel-good' films that can put a smile on your face during a rough patch. Being the master of this genre, Mukherjee was also recognised as the pioneer of 'middle-class films'.

The secret behind Mukherjee's uniqueness was his vision of wanting to pave a middle path between glittering, extravagant drama and the stark reality of art films.

Mukherjee became a household name during the Golden Era of Bollywood by making blockbuster films like  AnuradhaAnupamaChhaya, Asli-NaqliAashirwadSatyakam.

By the 1970s, Mukherjee was at the top of his game. His magnum opus was the film, Anand followed by the back to back hits of BawarchiChupke ChupkeAbhimaanNamak HaraamMiliAlaap, and Gol Maal.

Mukherjee was also strict on the sets. He would sassily scold stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra if he felt the need to. In one of the episodes of KBC, Bachchan reminisces Mukherjee and admits that his aura was so strong that people would obey him without a second thought.

Mukherjee's golden career won him the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1999. He also bagged the Padma Vibhushan in 2001. His legacy still echoes in through the blockbuster hits of Hindi Cinema, that continue to remain evergreen.

Leha Biswas Author
The crooked awkward cookie who loves to procrastinate but is driven by random bouts of ambition while daydreaming of a loaded future. Yass! That's me.

You might be interested in reading more from

Recognition (Awards & Honours)
Visual and Performing Arts

Fetching next story