Most reviewers spend many many nights – especially after fruitless screenings and what-if films – contemplating an ideal world in which actors worked with directors who’d bring out the best in them. Or, vice versa. During some films, you can almost imagine how another (not necessarily, a better one) actor would have elevated the character or scene much further than what is presented. And during others, you only wish for that-filmmaker-with-certain-sensibilities to be saddled with the same actors or plot. For instance, what if Sanjay Leela Bhansali had taken a shine to Bombay Velvet and made it instead of Anurag Kashyap? Or what if David Dhawan had made Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahaani instead of Rajkumar Santoshi? Or what if it were Deepika Padukone instead of Nargis Fakhri in Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar?
Here are seven future collaborations we wish – and hope – to see one day:
Imtiaz Ali – Shah Rukh Khan
We hear Khan has already signed on to star for Imtiaz Ali for the first time, but this one has been on our list for a very long time. Khan, who has struggled to transition from lover-boy to lover-man in the wrong hands (Rohit Shetty), needs someone who’d explore and respect protagonists far more. Imtiaz is known to tell the same stories repeatedly, but with impressively different arcs and contexts. He is a master of the narrative, and a master of the psychological man-child, which is perhaps exactly the challenge that Khan needs, especially after pushing his own limits with Maneesh Sharma’s Fan.
Zoya Akhtar – Alia Bhatt
Zoya’s multi-starrers have so far been the closest Hindi cinema will ever get to world-class contemporary dramas. She often reflects a very keen observational sense and flavor of her upper-class upbringing, and perhaps now would be a right time to explore the idea of a post-apocalyptic Mad-Max actioner with Alia playing Charlize Theron. Kidding. But, in all seriousness, if Zoya does stick to her strengths, a female-centric single-mother drama with Bhatt in it would really hit the spot. The finest young actress of our generation with one of our finest filmmakers – that’s the dream.
Vishal Bhardwaj – Govinda
Oh, the possibilities. Govinda made a minor comeback in 2014, and was the standout in disasters like Kill Dil and Happy Ending, but the actor always had this earthy raw dramatic passion about him in his early days (Swarg, Hum) – and Master Bhardwaj has been known for his casting masterstrokes over the years. Whether it was Saif Ali Khan as Langda Tyagi in Omkara, Anushka Sharma in Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola, Shahid Kapoor in Haider and Kaminey or Tabu in Maqbool, the director doesn’t shy away from unexplored mainstream sensibilities. Govinda deserves many more chances, and I suspect he would break many barriers as an operatic Bhardwaj character.
Anurag Kashyap – Aamir Khan
We’d love to see Aamir step away from his preacher image and get down and dirty in a typically Kashyap universe – and we’re not talking Bombay Velvet, which, incidentally, Khan rejected. We’re talking Dhanbad or spooky Gurgaon bylanes, Dharavi and the grimy underbelly of Hyderabad. Everyone knows this Khan can act, but his idea of experimental ends with lovable Hirani aliens and double-role franchise villains.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali – Kareena Kapoor
I know what you’re thinking, but no, they haven’t worked together before this. Quite a shock, considering Kapoor’s natural regality, and considering the fact that she fits in quite naturally as a Queen or princess (note: Asoka, but she was too young) in Indian (or Asian) history. Enough with the Aishwaryas and Deepikas and Priyankas, this one has been going a-begging since the late ‘90s.
Farhan Akhtar – Farhan Akhtar
He needs to don back his hat as a filmmaker. It’s in his genes, and perhaps he could direct himself if he is so convinced of his abilities as a shape-shifting artist. The disastrous Don films aside, we miss the storyteller, the genuinely original voice back in the early 2000s. We’re not quite sure we’re seeing the best of him on screen.
Shimit Amin – Kangana Ranaut
Some body needs to get Amin out of temporary retirement and tell him that we need him around. Rocket Singh and Chak De! India were two of the best mainstream Hindi films in a generation. With the form Kangana is in, he could perhaps tick out that one box she hasn’t ticked till now: that of a convincing upper-class urban protagonist (where she failed miserably in Katti Batti). Her diction goes against her in conventional rom-coms, but then again, this combination could subverse an entire genre.