Vishal began his career in the Indian Film Industry as a music composer for films. He met with an early success in his career with music in films like Maachis and Satya where he created a new kind of sound altogether. He earned a reputation with his constant experimentation and his script sense - a quality that was rare in other composers in the industry. His music gained recognition and earned him many accolades like the Channel [V] Awards and Filmfare Award for his first film Maachis and the National Film Award for best music in a film called Godmother. With a view to satisfy his urge to sharpen and enhance his creative skills, Vishal decided to try his hand at the more strenuous profession of film direction. Previous to this production, he had directed two short films on video for reputed Television Channels in the country. Both these films were appreciated by the audiences and he received further encouragement to make a film. Makdee was his first feature, an attempt to both entertain and inform.
In 2004, he went on to make the first of his Shakespearean adaptations, Maqbool, based on Macbeth. This was followed by Omkara, starring Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, based on the play Othello, in 2006. This was followed by another children's film after Makdee, The Blue Umbrella based on Ruskin Bond's story of the same name.
He is known for his collaborations with Gulzar, who had Bhardwaj as his music composer in all his directorial ventures since Maachis. And Gulzar provided lyrics to all of Vishal Bhardwaj's films.
In 2009, Kaminey, starring Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, released. In 2011, 7 Khoon Maaf, the film, based on the Ruskin Bond short story, Susanna's Seven Husbands, revolves around Susanna (Priyanka Chopra) and her seven husbands. He even produced the Arshad Warsi-Naseeruddin Shah-Vidya Balan starrer Ishqiya in 2010.
Bhardwaj has scored music for several Hindi films such as—Satya, Chachi 420, Maqbool, Omkara, Kaminey, Ishqiya, 7 Khoon Maaf and the latest Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola —and a host of other popular projects.