Subhash Ghai (born 24 January 1945) is an Indian film director, producer and screenwriter. His most notable films include Kalicharan (1976), Karz (1980), Hero (1983), Meri Jung (1985), Karma (1986), Ram Lakhan (1989), Saudagar (1991), Khalnayak (1993), Pardes (1997) and Taal (1999). He launched Mukta Arts, a film production company in 1982, and is known as the "showman" of Hindi cinema, for making epic films that portray grandeur and very rich themes.
He started his career in Hindi cinema as an actor with small roles in six films, like Taqdeer (1967) and Aradhana (1971). He was the male lead in the 1970s Umang, which did not do well at the box office, and Gumraah (1976) with Reena Roy and Danny. His directorial debut was the film Kalicharan (1976) which he obtained through a recommendation by Shatrughan Sinha. Kalicharan was one of the biggest hits of its time. As of 2005, he had written and directed 15 movies out of which 13 were highly successful. In 1982, he started Mukta Arts Private Limited which, in 2000, became a public company, with Subhash Ghai as its chairman and managing director.
At the peak of his directorial career in the 1980s and 1990s, he formed a successful collaboration with the veteran Dilip Kumar whom he directed in Vidhaata (1982), Karma (1986) and Saudagar (1991), the latter for which he won the Filmfare Best Director Award. He helped establish the careers of Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor, introducing Jackie as a leading actor in Hero (1983) and directed Kapoor in Meri Jung (1985) for which he was nominated for a Filmfare Best Actor Award. He went onto frequently work with both actors casting them together in the hit films Karma (1986), Ram Lakhan (1989) and the box office failure Trimurti (1995) which he had produced and was directed by Mukul S. Anand. His 1993 release Khalnayak starring Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit and Shroff featured the controversial but popular song "Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai".
In 1997 he directed Pardes which starred Shahrukh Khan and introduced Mahima Chaudhry and Apoorva Agnihotri. In 1999 he directed Taal which starred Akshaye Khanna, Aishwarya Rai and Anil Kapoor. Both Pardes and Taal were released internationally and featured in the top 20 movies in the U.S. box office charts for several weeks. His following films, Yaadein (2001) and Kisna (2005) were box office and critical failures.
He then took a break from directing and turned producer having success with modestly successful films such as Aitraaz (2004), 36 China Town (2006) and Apna Sapna Money Money (2006). As a producer, most of his films were average except for Iqbal (2005) which was written by Vipul K Rawal.
In 2006, he set up his own state-of-the-art film institute Whistling Woods International in Mumbai. The institute trains students in filmmaking: production, direction, cinematography, acting, animation, etc. Like Alfred Hitchcock he is known to give brief cameos in his directorial ventures.
After a three-year hiatus from directing, he returned in 2008 with Black and White released on 7 March 2008 and, later Yuvvraaj released in November 2008, which flopped at box office. Incidentally the song "Jai Ho" was to be part of this film, but Ghai felt it was unsuitable for the actor Zayed Khan to perform onscreen; later it was used in Slumdog Millionaire. After his Oscar win, A. R. Rahman revealed in an interview that it was Ghai who had asked him to use the words "Jai Ho" in a song.