Rajkumar Santoshi is an Indian filmmaker who shot to fame with
Sunny Deol’s films. However, he had begun his career as an assistant to
Govind Nihalani. He learnt filmmaking aspect from Govind. Rajkumar has assisted Govind Nihalani in his five films (notable are Ardh Satya & Vijeta).
Rajkumar Santhoshi was born to filmmaker P.L. Santoshi, who had given a break to actor
Dev Anand, music director O.P. Nayyar and even had encouraged playback singer
Kishore Kumar. His father was an assistant director for Raj Kapoor’s films Sargam and Barsaat Ki Raat.
Rajkumar Santhoshi was born in Chennai from his father’s second marriage. When his father had moved to Chennai to direct Tamil films, he came across his mother and thus they got married. Since in those days bigamy was prevalent, his father did not divorce his first wife. Santhoshi grew up seeing films of M.G. Ramachandran and
Vijay Anand in Chennai (he considered his hometown then). Later on, their family moved to Mumbai and got settled there. Rajkumar quit his high-school studies (XI std) and assisted his father in filmmaking. After his father’s death, he took life seriously and assisted Robin Dharamraj for film ‘Chakra’. Thus, his film journey had begun. He then joined
Vidhu Vinod Chopra to do production work but left this job and joined Govind Nihalani as an assistant director.
In 1990, Rajkumar received his recognition with his first film ’
Ghayal’ (1990) where he took the credit of a writer and director. Initially, Santoshi wanted to cast Sunny or
Kamal Haasan fo ’Ghayal’. But, he met Sunny Deol personally and when Sunny liked the whole story actor Dharmendra came forward to produce the film. After the success of ‘Ghayal’, Santoshi made a female-oriented film ‘
Damini’ (1993) which fetched Sunny Deol National Film award for best supporting actor. The film is also considered as
Meenakshi Seshadri’s best film to date. Ghayal was remade in Tamil, Telugu and Oriya and the film depicted how a woman fights against society for justice. Santoshi received the best Filmfare Director Award for this film. In 1994, he brought
Aamir Khan and
Salman Khan together for a film ‘
Andaz Apna Apna’ which did not do well in box office. In 1995, he introduced Dharmendra’s another son Booby Deol and Rajesh Khanna’s daughter
Twinkle Khanna in a film ‘Barsaat’ which received a mixed response. In 1996, he again directed Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Seshadri for a film ‘Ghatak’ which was supposed to be done by Kamal Haasan. But actor Haasan had withdrawn from the film for unknown reasons and Sunny had featured in the film. The film was a super hit, and it was the last film of Meenakshi Seshadri too. Later on, Rajkumar became co-producer for ‘Doli Saja Ke Rakhna’ starring
Akshaye Khanna and Jyothika. The film was directed by Priyadarshan. He also co-produced another film ‘
Jaanam Samjha Karo’ which fared poorly at the box office.
Later Rajkumar directed patriotic films like ‘
Pukar’ which fetched
Anil Kapoor the National Film Award for the best actor. In 2002, he made the best film of his career ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ which was a biopic on freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh. The film fetched two National awards.
Rajkumar is also known for making a film ‘
Amitabh Bachchan, which was a runaway hit. In 2013, he directed ‘Phata Poster Nikhla Hero’ featuring
Shahid Kapoor and Ileana D'Cruz, which received a mixed response.
Rajkumar is married to Manila and has two children Ram and Tanisha. He is planning a film’ Fateh Singh’ with
Ajay Devgan now.