He left his studies mid-way and decided to go to Bombay to pursue a career as a painter, though while he was trying for J.J. School of Arts, he got an opportunity to witness the shooting of the film Dharma and he was so impressed that he changed his mind to switch from painter to filmmaking.
He made his debut, as a director with the movie Hip Hip Hurray which released in 1983, written by noted scriptwriter Gulzar. His next directorial venture was the film Damul in 1984, for which he received most appreciation by critics. The film addressed the issue of bonded labour in Bihar.
He then took a break from filmmaking and after returning back he directed movies like Bandish and Mritydand. In the year 2003, he scripted, directed and produced Gangaajal, which enjoyed a great success at the box-office and was also critically praised as well. The film went on to win National Award for Best Screenplay.