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Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta

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Also Known As: Deepa Mehta Saltzman Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: India Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, editor, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The two predominant themes in the work of writer-director Deepa Mehta are 1) the transcendence of age differentials and cultural barriers and 2) passion in its various guises. Drawing on her own status as a woman whose identity straddles two disparate worlds, her native India and her adopted homeland of Canada, this gifted filmmaker sheds new light on the seemingly banal topics of friendship and history. In a handful of films, Mehta has emerged as a potent voice in world cinema.

The two predominant themes in the work of writer-director Deepa Mehta are 1) the transcendence of age differentials and cultural barriers and 2) passion in its various guises. Drawing on her own status as a woman whose identity straddles two disparate worlds, her native India and her adopted homeland of Canada, this gifted filmmaker sheds new light on the seemingly banal topics of friendship and history. In a handful of films, Mehta has emerged as a potent voice in world cinema.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
4.
  Water (2005)
5.
  Republic of Love, The (2003) Director
6.
  Bollywood/Hollywood (2002) Director
7.
  Earth (1998) Director
8.
  Fire (1996) Director
9.
  Camilla (1994) Director
10.
  Sam & Me (1991) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Delhi, India
1973:
Emigrated to Canada
:
Early work in the movie industry, writing scripts for children's films
:
With then-husband Paul Saltzman and brother Dilip, co-founded Sunrise Films Ltd.
1974:
Scripted and edited the documentary "The Bakery", directed by Saltzman
1975:
Directorial debut with the documentary short "At 99: A Portrait of Louise Tandy Murch"
1986:
Directed documentary about her brother, "Travelling Light: The Photojournalism of Dilip Mehta"
1988:
With Norma Bailey and Daniele J Suissa, co-directed "Martha, Ruth & Edie"; also produced; credited as Deepa Mehta Saltzman
1988:
Helmed an episode of the Canadian TV series "The Twin"; also acted in a separate episode
1988:
Directed four episodes of the TV series "Danger Bay"
1991:
First fictional feature "Sam & Me"; also co-produced
1992:
Directed "Benares, January 1910", an episode of "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" (ABC)
1994:
Helmed second feature "Camilla", a character study co-starring Jessica Tandy, Bridget Fonda and Hume Cronyn
1996:
With Michael Schultz, credited as director of "Young Indiana Jones: Travels With Father", a telefilm aired on The Family Channel
1996:
Scripted, co-produced and directed "Fire", the first in a proposed trilogy of films named after elements; film generated controversy as it depicted the growing relationship between an Indian woman and her sister-in-law; initial collaboration with actress Nandita Das; film provoked a firestorm of controversy when it played in India as more than 2000 members of the Shiv Sena, a reactionary faction of the government's majority Hindu Nationalist Party protested the film with firebombs
1998:
Co-produced, wrote and directed "Earth", the second film in her trilogy, detailing the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan filtered through the eyes of a crippled Parsee child; based on the semi-autobiographical novel "Cracking India" by Bapsi Sidhwa; film co-starred Aamir Khan, Nandita Das and Rahul Khanna
2000:
Attempted to complete her trilogy filming "Water"; project put on hold when shooting was suspended because of local protests in India
2005:
Helmed the final film in her trilogy, "Water," which is set in the 1930s and focuses upon the difficult lives of a group of widows living in an impoverished ashram (institution for widows); earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film (US release 2006)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of New Delhi: - 1973

Notes

"I wrote ["Fire"] at the end of my own 14-year marriage to a white Canadian. I had always thought of myself as a liberated, emancipated woman, but when we married I never questioned the idea that I would follow him. I was a good, obedient wife. To give up went against everuthing I had been taught about being a woman. To be divorced questioned my deepest ideas of self-worth." --Deepa Mehta quoted in SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, August 15, 1997

"When I was growing up, sometimes we had a lot of money and sometimes we didn't, depending on how well my father's films did. He always used to say to me, 'There are two things in life you never know--when you're going to die and how a film is doing to do.'" --Deepa Mehta to Diane Taylor in "Lesbian Sisters, Freaky In-laws and Pervy Men. This is Indian Life as Deepa Mehta Knows It", from THE GUARDIAN, November 13, 1998

"I'm really tired of 'exotic' India. It just doesn't exist anymore. The othe extreme is an Indian with a begging bowl. And in between, there are 350 million people who are not unlike the people in the West." --Mehta quoted in NEW YORK, August 25, 1997

"I'm not really Indian, I'm not really Canadian. I'm a bit of both or a lot of one and a lot of the other. But I feel lost. I don't know where I belong." --Deep Mehta quoted in TORONTO SUN, September 11, 1998

"Reading a Deepa Mehta script is like watching the movie itself." --Indian actor Rahul Khanna, co-star of "Earth", quoted at www.indiabollywood.com/profiles/deepa-mehta.htm

"The partition of India was like a Holocaust for us and I grew up hearing many stories about this terrible event. Naturally I was attracted to this subject.

I have my own theory about why there has been such a silence about this tragedy by western filmmakers, and it is just a theory. I think it is bound up with a number of attitudes that prevail in the western countries about India. Obviously I am not including everybody in this generalisation, there are many exceptions, but there are several conceptions that prevail in the west about India. There is firstly the spiritual India-a place where you go and find nirvana. Secondly, there is the conception that India is entirely poverty stricken, with a permanent kind of begging bowl attitude. There is the India of Maharajas, princes and queens, and the India that comes from nostalgia for the Raj. And there is always the prevailing pressure that people should feel superior to some other place: look how bad India is with all the beggars, aren't we lucky to be better off.

It is uncomfortable and difficult for some filmmakers to produce works that destroy these perceptions. India brings specifically fixed images in many western minds, and the minute you start de-exoticising that, you have you deal with Indians as real people, and there is a pressure not to do that.

Finally, there are many dark political questions about partition that the British establishment doesn't want brought to light. When you know the real history of partition and the responsibility that lands in the laps of the British, obviously you understand why it is a very uncomfortable subject for them. Generally the response there has been to romanticise Gandhi and Lord Mountbatten. This is done to such a degree that I find it quite nauseous." --Mehta quoted on World Socialist Web Site (www.wsws.org)

"There are a quite a number but there is one group of great masters. There is Satyajit Ray whose work has played an enormous part in my appreciation for the cinema. I regard him as one of the most lyrical and humanist filmmakers of the century. I also admire Mizoguchi, Ozu, Vittorio de Sica, as great masters."

"There are three contemporary directors that immediately come to mind whom I enjoy and am inspired by. I think Emir Kusturica is brilliant, and one of my favourite films of all time is 'Time of the Gypsies'. I like the fact that he doesn't flee from an emotion, he embraces it fully. He doesn't seem to give a damn about how his films will be perceived. If he wants to be irreverent he will be. I like the use of music in his films, I love the heart of his films and they always carry a very strong political message. I also like Pedro Almadovar very much-I like his black humour-and I like Peter Weir, because he has managed to keep his integrity as a director while making his films very accessible. That I admire enormously. I am sure I could go on at length."

--Deepa Mehta quoted on the World Socialist Web Sit (www.wsws.org)

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Paul Saltzman. Filmmaker. Canadian; married in 1973; divorced c. 1987.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Dilip Mehta. Photojournalist, documentarian, producer.
daughter:
Devyani Saltzman. Born c. 1980.

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