Neeraj Pandey: A Director that consistently strikes gold at the box-office and with the critics


If you talk about box-office glory nowadays in Bollywood, the Directors that come to mind are entertainers like Rohit Shetty, Anees Bazmee, Karan Johar, Rakesh Roshan, Sooraj Barjatya, and Farah Khan. If the conversation moves towards critical acclaim in todays times, the names that pop are auteurs like Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Imtiaz Ali, Dibakar Banerjee, and Zoya Akhtar. However, the crossover between achieving gold both at the box-office and with the critics rarely happened in modern Bollywood.

Very few Directors these days are able to strike that perfect balance between box-office accolades and critical laurels like how masters such as Yash Chopra, B.R. Chopra, Hirshikesh Mukherjee, Raj Kapoor, Rajkumar Santoshi, Ramesh Sippy, and Vijay Anand used to in the past. The only names that come to mind are Rajkumar Hirani and to some extent, Farhan Akhtar, Ashutosh Gowariker, and Kabir Khan, with the latter three having a bit of see-saw record as far as both box-office numbers and critical plaudits go. But theres one more name thats right up there with Hirani when it comes to consistently achieving both box-office and critical fame Neeraj Pandey.

Through an astute sense of filmmaking, clear vision, and the desire to make films that simultaneously excite and enrich you, Pandey has not only been delivering one critical darling after another right from his debut, but his films have also been raking in the moolah at the ticket window. Admittedly, they may not drive such insane numbers like Hiranis films do, but while a few critics and audience members may find Hiranis films a tad too saccharine and preachy for their taste (we certainly do not), almost everyone unanimously agrees upon Pandeys films being raw, thrilling, and entertaining to the hilt while also stimulating the senses to the fullest.

Moreover, each of his films are starkly different to his other works from A Wednesday to Special 26 to Baby to M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story every film has their unique flavor yet retains his signature marks of tough characters, intricate plotting, layered narratives, unpredictable twists, human emotions, and brutal settings. And its this mix of diversity and idiosyncratic flair that makes Neeraj Pandeys movies a hit with both critics and the audience; repeatedly attaining glowing reviews and striking gold at the box-office.

The collections hitherto of his films will paint a clearer picture of how consistent hes at the box-office.

Film Release Date Total Collection in Nett (INR) Verdict
A Wednesday 5th Sep 2008 12 crore Hit
Special 26 8th Feb 2013 68 crore Hit
Baby 23rd Jan 2015 96 crore Sem-hit
M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story 30th Sep 2016 133 crore Hit


Total Box_office Collection: Rs. 309 crore

Average per Film: Rs. 77.25 Hit


As you can see, Pandeys may have not yet delivered a blockbuster, but his films always churn out profits, which is something that distributors relish more than a filmmaker who delivers a couple of flops between a blockbuster or two.

Furthermore, a look at his films scores on some of the most-revered movie sites in the world will give a clear indication of how the kind of love and repeat value his films hold.

Once again, you can see that not only do Pandeys films make decent money, but their scores also suggest that they hold tremendous repeat value and a special place in moviegoers hearts, which, eventually, translates into tremendous goodwill and trust with the audience.

To sum things up, Neeraj Pandey knows his audience, knows how to entertain them, knows the importance of respecting them, and, more imperatively, realizes that you neither have to compromise on good, serious filmmaking to make an entertaining film, nor do you need to make an excessively artsy and brooding film to win over the critics. Hes got his basics right, has immense faith in his vision, and is certain of the kind of films he wants to make. Thats why hes got such an enviable record both at the box-office and with the critics, and we expect that streak to extend with his next film, Aiyaary, starring Sidharth Mlahotra, Manoj Bajpayee, and Rakul Preet. The film, which is based on real-life events set against an army backdrop, is shaping to be another slickly made action film from Pandey, which should appeal to all sections of the audience. Aiyaary certainly looks like a shoo-in for box-office glory and critical laurels.

Image Sources: Friday Filmworks, IMDB, and Rottn Tomatoes

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