Jagmohan "Jag" Mundhra (29 October 1948 – 4 September 2011) was an Indian filmmaker best known for his early career as an American exploitation film writer-director and his later career as maker of such issue-oriented films as Bawandar and Provoked.
Mundhra was born at Nagpur, and grew up in a Marwari locality in Calcutta, in a conservative family where films were frowned upon. He nevertheless nurtured a secret ambition to become a filmmaker. His childhood as of other Indians of his generation, was a tough one, counting pennies for the tram that rode to the other, affluent side of the city, and withstanding his family's strict traditions.
Says Mundhra, "The family was very conservative and my grand mother was very strict and we were allowed to see maybe a couple of films a year and that too of the Har Har Mahadev variety. As a child I never saw myself as a young Marwari boy but a lot beyond that. In those days, the word global citizen was not there, but inside I felt like one".
Life at IIT Bombay
A key influence on Mundhra was his admission to the highly competitive and prestigious IIT Bombay . In his words, "I had studied in a Hindi medium school up to 9th grade and always admired people who spoke English fluently. IIT taught me a lot of humility. In my wing, there were students who were from different states, and as far as English went, this person from Bihar who couldn’t speak English to save his life outshone everyone else with his brilliance. I did well, but realized very early on while in IIT that engineering was not for me. I would be very unhappy if I was to live my life being an engineer, but I stuck it out because I didn’t want to let my parents down". He then went for his MS in Electrical Engineering, in Michigan. However, he switched to marketing after one semester.
Mundhra wrote his marketing thesis on motion pictures. He did a comparative study of marketing practices in Hollywood and Bollywood. The study led him to visit the Bombay film industry and meet people. After finishing his PhD, he taught for a year at California State University. His stay in California brought him closer to Hollywood. In 1979 he resigned and decided to become a full-time filmmaker.
After his first dramas, Suraag, and the socially-relevant film, Kamla, Mundhra directed, in the late 1980s and the 1990s, a string of horror and erotic thriller movies for theatrical distribution and direct to video, including The Jigsaw Murders (1988), Halloween Night (1988), Night Eyes (1990), L.A. Goddess (1993), Sexual Malice (1994), Tales of The Kama Sutra : The Perfumed Garden (2000) and Tales of The Kama Sutra 2 : Monsoon (2001).
Beginning with Bawandar (2000), which he directed under the name Jagmohan, Mundhra was back to issue-oriented films. Bawander is about the fight of a poor woman for justice and was based on the story of a Rajasthani woman Bhanwari Devi. After the film's release Ashok Gehlot, the chief minister of Rajasthan called him and said, "Aapke bawandar ne bada bawander machaya hai." He gave Rs 50,000 and land for Bhanwari Devi and also money for her son's education. To Mundhra, "It's not a movie about rape, but the empowerment of a woman. This character could be fictitious and yet the story would have had the same powerful message". In his own words, Kamla, Bawander and Provoked are his trology of strong women centric films.
- IndiaBlooms entry
- "Jag Mundhra".
- "Dr. Jagmohan Mundhra controversy". Retrieved 29 Sept., 2009.
- "Kamla (1984)".
- South Asian American Films and Arts Association
- "Jagmohan Mundhra speaks on Provoked". Retrieved 29 Sept., 2009.
- India Times