Sooni Taraporevala in 2010
|Occupation||screenwriter, film director, photographer|
Sooni Taraporevala (born 1957) is an Indian screenwriter and photographer who is best known as the screenwriter of Mississippi Masala, The Namesake and Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay (1988), all directed by Mira Nair.
Early life and education
She attended Queen Mary School, Mumbai, and Harvard University in 1980. Here she took a filmmaking course under Alfred Guzzetti, and met Nair as an undergraduate, leading to their longtime creative collaboration. Next she joined the Cinema Studies Department at New York University, and after receiving her MA in Film Theory and Criticism, in 1981, she returned to India to work as a freelance still photographer.
Collaboration with Mira Nair
Ms. Taraporevala wrote the screenplays for Salaam Bombay and Mississippi Masala, both directed by Mira Nair. Interestingly, the final drafts of both these films were written in Brooklyn, NY. Other projects with Nair include the screenplay for My Own Country, based on the book by Abraham Verghese as well as the cinematic adaptation of Pulitzer-prize winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake. The film, The Namesake, was released in 2007.
Her other produced credits include the film Such a Long Journey based on the novel Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry and directed by Sturla Gunnarson. Finally, she wrote the screenplay for the film Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, directed by Dr. Jabbar Patel for the Government of India and the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC).
It was in 1982, when during a break from college, she met photographer Raghubir Singh, who after looking at her work, which included photographs of her extended Parsi family, suggested she work on a book on Parsi community. This in turn started her extensive work of photo documentation of the Parsi community. Her photographs have been exhibited in India, the US, France and Britain, including London’s Tate Modern gallery.
In Fall 2004, Ms. Taraporevala released a coffee table photography book, a first-ever visual work on India's Parsi Zoroastrian community, entitled Parsis: the Zoroastrians of India - A Photographic Journey (Overlook Press, ISBN 1-58567-593-8). A 24-year labor of love, the book offers rare photos, as well as historical and personal essays on the Zoroastrian religion and Parsi social history.
Taraporevala had previously self-published the book in India in 2000, where it sold out in just a few months. The book received glowing advance praise from film director Mira Nair, Harvard literature professor and noted post-colonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha, acclaimed writers Rohinton Mistry and Bapsi Sidhwa and conductor Zubin Mehta.
After living in 18 years in America, she returned to India in 1993. She is married to Dr. Firdaus Bativala, a dental surgeon and lives in Mumbai, along with their two children, Jahan and Iyanah, both of whom did important roles in her film, Little Zizou (2009).
- Little Zizou (2009) (as writer-director)
- The Namesake (2006)
- Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar (2000)
- Such a Long Journey (1998)
- My Own Country (1998) (Showtime TV)
- Mississippi Masala (1991)
- Salaam Bombay! (1988)
- 1991: Golden Osella (Best Original Screenplay) Venice Film Festival: Mississippi Masala (with Mira Nair) 
- 2014: Padma Shri by Government of India for (Scriptwriting)
- Viets, Alexandra (October 12, 1994). "From Hollywood Back to Bombay". New York Times.
- "The Serious Laugh Junkie". Tehelka. Vol 6, Issue 9, Mar 07, 2009.
- "Little Zizou, an insider's view to Parsi community". CNN-IBN. Feb 27, 2009.
- Tree A. Palmedo (October 30, 2012). "Portrait Of An Artist: Sooni Taraporevala". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
- "‘I was called a rudderless ship’". Tehelka. October 16, 2004.
- Sooni was everywhere, doing everything! Rediff.com, April 6, 2001.
- "Good Dees". Orlando Weekly. 11/4/2004.
- Parsis:A Photographic Journey, Official website
- Craig Lambert (March–April 2007). "Godmothers of The Namesake". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
- "Small wonders: Sooni Taraporevala’s kids debut with Little Zizou". Indian Express. Feb 28, 2009.
- "All in the family". Mint (newspaper). Mar 5, 2009.
- Mississippi Masala - Awards Internet Movie Database.
- "Padma Awards Announced". Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
- Official Website
- Trailer of upcoming documentary on Taraporevala
- SAWNET biography
- Sooni Taraporevala at the Internet Movie Database