When we hear the name Ashutosh Gowariker, we quickly relate to the Bollywood movies- Lagaan (2001), Swades (2004), Jodha Akbar (2008). Ashutosh Gowariker is known for directing films "set on a huge canvas while boasting of an opulent treatment". However, much before coming behind the camera as a director, he was a prolific actor.
Born in Kolhapur, Ashutosh started his career as an actor, making his debut in Ketan Mehta's 1985 drama Holi, a film that introduced him to Aamir Khan, and followed it up by acting gigs in films like Naam(1986), Gunj (1989), Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (1989), Chamatkar (1992) and several others.
His last major acting appearance in a film was Kundan Shah's Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na. He has acted in several television serials such as Circus (1989) and was also seen in an episode of the hit TV series CID in 1999.
The 1993 movie Pehla Nasha marked Gowariker's directorial debut. His second movie Baazi (1995), starred Aamir Khan.
However, after Lagaan (2001) changed his fortunes as a filmmaker, Gowariker didn't look back at acting again, focussing entirely on direction, delivering big ticket films, most of which worked, some of which didn't. This film, which surprised many with its core plot around the game of cricket, also evoked a sense of belonging to one’s nation apart from giving us a glimpse of the pre-independent India.
Lagaan ranked third among 2001's Indian movies in terms of gross revenue. It was nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 74th Academy Awards, which makes him a voting member of the Academy Awards.
In the year 2004, he directed Swades, starring Shahrukh Khan. Swades showed SRK as Mohan Bhargava, who landed in India straight from NASA, clad in cotton shirts and trousers, perfectly oiled hair and a general feeling that it’s better to stay away than face the challenges in India. But his transformation and how he ended up devoting his life for the development of not just his small village but also making a place in our hearts is what Swades was about.
In the year 2008, Ashutosh Gowariker came up with Jodhaa Akbar- a historical epic romance set in the 16th century. Ashutosh gave us Hrithik Roshan as Akbar. He even gave us Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Jodha, in a romance that weaved around a lesser discussed Mughal era.
The film also starred Sonu Sood, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Ila Arun in pivotal roles. Music maestro AR Rahman composed the musical score for the venture which was highly acclaimed.
Incidentally, Ashutosh celebrates his birthday on February 15, the same day his period drama opened in theatres 10 years back. The film has completed 10 long years and, on this occasion, Ashutosh Gowariker took to Twitter and shared an unreleased poster of the movie.
Post Jodhaa Akbar, Ashutosh directed some other flicks like the romantic comedy What's Your Raashee? (2009), starring Priyanka Chopra and Harman Baweja, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010), starring Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone and Mohenjodaro (2016), starring Hrithik Roshan.
The year 2016 also saw Ashutosh’s return in acting by playing the lead role in the critically acclaimed dramedy Ventilator(2016), which was produced by Priyanka Chopra.