Zoya Akhtar

  • Director, Writer, Producer, Executive Producer, Screenplay

Oct 14, 1972  in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

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Best known for the 2011 coming-of-age drama movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Zoya Akhtar is an award-winning Indian film director, producer, and screenwriter, who has won several accolades for her contribution to the Hindi film industry.

Early Life
Zoya was born to poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar and screenwriter Honey Irani on the 14th of October, 1972. Her younger brother, Farhan Akhtar, is an actor, singer, and, like her, a director, screenwriter, and producer. Her parents got divorced after which her father got married to veteran actress Shabana Azmi in 1984. Zoya completed her schooling at Maneckji Cooper High School and went on to study arts at St. Xavier’s College. Following her graduation, she studied film production at the New York University Film School.

Personal Life
Zoya is rumored to be dating cinematographer Carlos Catalan, who has worked with her on all of her feature films. However, nothing was confirmed.

Movie Career
As a Director
Zoya started her career as an assistant director with the 1998 comedy Bombay Boys starring Rahul Bose, Naveen Andrews, and Naseeruddin Shah. She next assisted her brother, Farhan Akhtar, in his directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai in 2001. The movie starring Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna, and Saif Ali Khan went on to become a commercial success and is considered to be a cult. She, yet again, assisted Farhan in his next, the 2004 war drama, Lakshya starring Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta.

Having assisted in a few movies, Zoya made her directorial debut in 2009 with the drama Luck By Chance, starring Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma. Not only did she direct the movie, she also wrote the story and screenplay of the movie, along with co-producing it. Although the movie was an average grosser, it was extremely well-received by the critics, hence she went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director for her work in the movie. Following her debut, she directed the 2011 coming-of-age drama Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara starring an ensemble cast including Farhan Akhtar, yet again, Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, and Kalki Koechlin. Having written the story and screenplay of this movie too, ZNMD was both critically and commercially well-received and went on to win various awards, with Zoya winning Filmfare Award for Best Director, and IIFA Award for Best Director.

She then directed the segment ‘Sheila Ki Jawaani’ in the 2013 anthology film Bombay Talkies, comprising of three other segments directed by Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, and Dibakar Banerjee. Her next, again, saw an ensemble cast comprising Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Farhan Akhtar, and Anushka Sharma in the comedy-drama Dil Dhadakne Do. The movie about a dysfunctional Punjabi family went on to become a commercial and critical success, with its cast and the movie as well receiving numerous awards and nominations.

As a Writer
Zoya has written the story for all of her movies such as Luck By Chance (2009), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) along with Reema Kagti’s psychological thriller Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012).

As an Executive Producer
In 2007, Zoya was the executive producer for Reema Kagti’s directorial debut comedy drama Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. Following this, she was associated with Farhan Akhtar’s Lakshya, starring Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta, in 2009.