Deepa Mehta

  • Actor, Director, Writer, Producer, Executive Producer, Screenplay

Jan 01, 1950  in Amritsar, Punjab, India

Also Known as: Deepa Mehta Saltzman

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A transnational filmmaker, Deepa Mehta is famous world-wide for her Elements trilogy- Fire (1996), Earth (1998), and Water (2005). Starring Nandita Das,Aamir Khan, and Rahul Khanna in the lead roles, Earth was India’s official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She further directed movies like Bollywood/Hollywood (2002), Heaven on Earth (2008) and Midnight's Children (2012).

In 1996, along with her producer husband David Hamilton, Mehta co-founded the Toronto-based production house, Hamilton-Mehta Productions. For her contribution to world cinema, Mehta was honored with Canada’s highest honor in the performing arts, Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.

Early Life
Born in Amritsar, Punjab, Deepa Mehta was raised in New Delhi, after her father moved to the capital city, to work as a film distributor. For her schooling, she went to Welham Girls High School, Dehradun and completed her graduation in philosophy from the Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University.

Post her graduation and before venturing into the world of silver screen, she made several short films and documentaries, leading her to get an insight into the kind of cinema she was to later helm.

Personal Life
In 1973, the director tied the knot with filmmaker Paul Saltzman and moved to Canada with him. But after a decade of the marriage, things turned sour between the couple and they mutually parted ways in 1983. She then married the Canadian film producer David Hamilton.

Movie Career
As a Director
In 1991, Mehta directed her first full-length film Sam & Me. Featuring the veteran Om Puri in an important role, the movie received an honorable mention at the Cannes Film Festival and was applauded by the critics. She followed this up with the Jessica Tandy and Bridget Fonda starrer drama film Camilla, released in 1994. Mehta next directed her first instalment film in the trilogy- Fire (1996). The movie, starring the art-house movie sweethearts, Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi was a milestone in Indian cinema, as it openly explored homosexual relations between two women. Based on Ismat Chughtai’s short story, Lihaaf, the film garnered praises from all quarters, in spite of constantly being on a radar of religious activists. Two years later came her second film in the franchise titled- Earth. This period drama set in Lahore, during the partition of India in 1947, received universal acclaim, garnering Best Film Award at the Asian Film Festival.

She, subsequently directed Rahul Khanna and Lisa Ray starrer Hollywood/Bollywood (2002) and Bruce Greenwood and Emilia Fox starrer, The Republic of Love (2003). Both the movie opened to good reviews, furthering cementing her career as a filmmaker. In 2005, Mehta completed her Element trilogy with John Abraham and Lisa Ray starrer Water. Tackling the sensitive subject of child marriage and homeless widows in rural India, the movie was first screened at Toronto International Film Festival, where it received several accolades and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.

In 2012, Mehta took up the risk of adapting Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children into a movie of the same name. Initially hesitant of hurting Indian sentiments, she went ahead with making the film, which starred acclaimed actors like Shabana Azmi, Anupam Kher, Ronit Roy, Shahana Goswami, Rahul Bose, and Darsheel Safary in pivotal roles. She further directed films like Beeba Boys (2015), and Anatomy of Silence (2016).