Subhash Ghai is the showman of the 80’s & 90’s with his opulent style of presenting the RAZZMATAZZ of Bollywood. He began his career as an actor but claimed success as an influential Director instead. Inspired by the Legendary Alfred Hitchcock he adopted his unique custom of creating cinema. He composed scripts magnanimously, with grandeur and executed them with perfection. He kept a tradition of appearing as a cameo in his films, appearing out of nowhere in the theme songs. Having a fine ear for music, he gave us everlasting chartbusters; his characters were seen playing an instrument [ Rishi Kapoor playing his iconic guitar tune, Jackie Shroff with his haunting flute, Anil Kapoor mastering piano & dafli, Katrina Kaif with her cello], his background music was exclusive. He gave us “Choli ke peechey” [atleast 41 politicians created a storm over the lyrics] “Om shanti Om”[a cult disco song], “ILU ILU”[ a term he used to convey his feelings to his wife Rehana alias Mukta]. The famous song “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionare, which fetched an Oscar for AR Rehman, was originally composed for Yuvraj but not used as it did not suit Zayed Khan according to his vision.
Like Raj Kapoor his lead actresses were emotionally spectacular & extremely “Desi”, christened in traditional Hindu names [ Durga, Ganga,Geeta, Mansi & his favourite RADHA]; he had a fixation for “M” when he casted his heroines [Meenakshi, Mahima, Madhuri, Manisha,Mishti]; he loved to dress them conventionally and in intense scenes, they were seen with their heads covered- with a black dupatta around their necks. His movies featured strong men of substance, usually in Khakis [Dilip Kumar as a jailor, Jackie & Anil as cops] carrying forward a theme of Good v/s Evil. Mountains & Hills, dew & foggy landscapes were his favourite while picturising his songs. He titled certain movies after famous cricketers [Kaalicharan, Vishwanath,Iqbal,Yuvraj]. He had an unfulfilled dream of working with Amitabh Bachchan; though he structured a script for “Devaa” but due to professional differences it never saw the light of the day [the chosen look for him was used in Khuda Gawah]. He brought the 2 legends Dilip Kumar & Raj Kumar under one screen after they vowed never to work together after Paigham(1959) due to personal squabbles. He presented them superbly in their own individual styles.
Kaalicharan(1976) marked his debut as a director which established the unconventional Shatrughan Sinha in Bollywood. Its Cult Dialogue “ Saara shehar mujhe loin ke naam se jaanta hai” started a trend of Ajit’s Dialogues being highlighted along with his unique persona. It was followed by Vishwanath(1978) and with “Jalli ko aag kehte hain bujhi ko rakh kehte hain,jis raakh se barood banne usse Vishwanath kehte hain” Subhash Ghai, who could not achieve a mark with small roles in Aradhana, Umang & Taqdeer, arrived like a cannonade behind the camera in Mumbai film industry. He paired Shatru & Reena Roy yet again in Gautam Govinda(1979).
Karz(1980) was based on re-incarnation, (the theme way ahead of its time) and was panned by critics. Inspired by “The Re-incarnation of Peter Proud”, the pot boiler plot of murder & revenge featured Simi Garewal (in a critically acclaimed role of Kamini), Rishi Kapoor & Tina Munim. The songs were a trendsetter for disco music in India, composed by the legendary Laxmikant/Pyarelal. Krodhi(1981) met with a lukewarm response in spite of having Dharamendra/Hema/Zeenat. Vidhaata(1982) a multi starrer with Dilip Kumar/Sanjeev Kumar/Shammi Kapoor/Sanjay Dutt/Padmini Kolhapure granted him the status of a Showman who brought exceptional star cast together for his movies with offering them a due share on screen. Hero(1983) was an instant hit, where he paired newcomers Jackie Shroff/Meenakshi Seshadri in a time when Amitabh Bachchan was dominant. Meri Jung(1985) established Anil Kapoor as a mature actor and the iconic Nutan made a comeback with a phenomenal performance. He also gave us our talented “Bol baby bol, Rock n Roll” dancer Javed Jaffery. Karma(1986) boasted of an ensemble of a cast with a patriotic theme. He broke the mould around Anupam Kher after Saaransh, and we had Dr. Dang arriving as the latest terror after Mogambo. Also the veteran actors Dilip Kumar/Nutan shared screen for the first time in their career. Ram Lakhan(1989) swept the audience; “My Name is Lakhan” refreshed the Tapori culture and once again Anil Kapoor proved his versatility. We had 4 baddies Amrish Puri/Gulshan Grover [Bad man]/Paresh Rawal/Anupam Kher together and this “Super Duper Hit” set a new standard for entertainment in Bollywood. Saudagar (1991) fetched him his maiden Filmfare trophy. “ILU ILU” became a national anthem for lovers and we had a superb actress Manisha Koirala introduced in our kitty along with Vivek Mushran. Khalnayak(1993) was a turning point for Sanjay Dutt as he was facing a crucial time but he gained the nation’s sympathy as Ballu Balram. This blockbuster established Madhuri Dixit as the reigning queen of Dance, after Choli ke Peeche went viral across the country. Pardes(1997) was set on a theme of a good NRI v/s a bad NRI & became ”One of the major Bollywood movies to succeed in the US”. He worked with Nadeem Shravan for the first time as music directors. Taal(1999) was highly successful overseas as well. He worked with AR Rehman and titled the movie “Taal” as a tribute to the maestro. Govinda refused the role which eventually went to Anil Kapoor who bagged a Filmfare trophy for the same.
Yaadein(2001) was his first box office flop followed by Kisna(2005), Black & White(2005) and Yuvraj(2008) where he worked with Salman Khan for the first time, showcasing the arrogance & overconfidence of the contemporary youth today. Kaanchi(2014) was a flop as well, with newcomers Mishti/Kartick; story of a woman who represents the suppressed youth against injustice.
He has produced Trimurti(1995), Joggers Park(2003), Ek Aur Ek Gyarah(2003),Aitraaz(2004),Iqbal(2005),36 China Town(2006),Apna Sapna Money Money(2006),Good Boy Bad Boy(2007),Double di Trouble(2014).
He was currently awarded with the IIFA trophy. He lives in Mumbai with his wife Mukta and daughters Meghna Ghai Puri & Muskaan.