After watching the Italian movie Bicycle Thieves (1948), he gave up college to become a filmmaker and arrived in Mumbai with INR 5,000 in his pocket in 1993.
Paanch, his directorial debut, was never released, as the Central Board of Film Certification in India deemed it unsuitable to be viewed by the public. It was cleared in 2001, but remains unreleased.
Won the Star Screen Special Jury Award (2000) for his short film Last Train to Mahakali.
Best known for Black Friday (2004), a controversial drama about the 1993 Mumbai bombings. The movie was nominated for the "Golden Leopard" (Best Film) at the 57th Locarno International Film Festival (2004) and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 3rd Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (2005).
Wrote the script for the Academy Award-nominated film Water (2005).
Won the Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay and Best Story for Udaan (2011) with co-writer Vikramaditya Motwane.
Awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government in 2013.
Member of the board of the NGO "Aangan Trust", which helps to protect vulnerable children across India.