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|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, film producer|
|Known for||Elements Trilogy|
(m. 1973; div. 1983)
David Hamilton (– present)
|Children||Devyani Saltzman (daughter)|
|Relatives||Dilip Mehta (brother)|
Earth was submitted by India as its official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Water was Canada's official entry for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, making it only the third non-French-language Canadian film submitted in that category after Attila Bertalan's 1990 invented-language film A Bullet to the Head and Zacharias Kunuk's 2001 Inuktitut-language feature Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.
She co-founded Hamilton-Mehta Productions, with her husband, producer David Hamilton in 1996. She was awarded a Genie Award in 2003 for the screenplay of Bollywood/Hollywood. In May 2012, Mehta received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.
Mehta was born in Amritsar, Punjab though her family moved to New Delhi while she was still a child, and her father worked as a film distributor. Subsequently, Mehta attended Welham Girls High School, boarding school in Dehradun on the foothills of Himalayas. She graduated from the Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi with a degree in Philosophy.
After graduating Mehta began working for a production company that made documentary and educational films for the Indian government. During the production of her first feature-length documentary focusing on the working life of a child bride, she met and married Canadian documentary filmmaker Paul Saltzman, who was in India making a film. She migrated to Toronto to live with her husband in 1973.
Once in Canada, Mehta and Saltzman along with Mehta's brother Dilip started Sunrise Films, a production company, initially producing documentaries but moved into television production creating the television series Spread Your Wings (1977–79) about the creative and artistic work of young people from around the world. Additionally, Mehta directed several episodes of the Saltzman produced CBC drama Danger Bay (1984–90).
Mehta also directed the documentaries At 99: A Portrait of Louise Tandy Murch (1975) and Traveling Light (1986), the latter focusing on the work of Mehta's brother Dilip as a photojournalist. Traveling Light would go on to be nominated for three Gemini Awards. In 1987, based on the works of Alice Munro, Cynthia Flood and Betty Lambert, Mehta produced and co-directed Martha, Ruth and Edie. Screened at the Cannes International Film Festival, it would go on to win the Best Feature Film Award at the 11th International Film Festival in Florence in 1988.
In 1991 she made her feature-film directorial debut with Sam & Me (starring Om Puri), a story of the relationship between a young Indian boy and an elderly Jewish gentleman in the Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale. It broke the record at the time for the highest-budgeted film directed by a woman in Canada at $11 million. It won Honorable Mention in the Camera d'Or category of the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. Mehta followed this with her film Camilla starring Bridget Fonda and Jessica Tandy in 1994. In 2002, she directed Bollywood/Hollywood, for which she won the Genie Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Mehta directed two episodes of George Lucas' television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. The first episode, "Benares, January 1910", aired in 1993. The second episode was aired in 1996 as part of a TV movie titled Young Indiana Jones: Travels with Father.
Mehta directed several English-language films set in Canada, including The Republic of Love (2003) and Heaven on Earth (2008) which deals with domestic violence and has Preity Zinta playing the female lead. It premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. Also in 2008 Mehta produced the documentary The Forgotten Woman, directed by her brother Dilip.
In 2015, Mehta wrote and directed the crime thriller Beeba Boys (2015), a film starring Randeep Hooda as Jeet Johar, a proud observant Sikh and a ruthless gangster. It premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
On 29 October 2020, Telefilm Canada announced that Mehta's film Funny Boy (2020) would represent Canada in the Academy Awards race for best international feature film. However, the film was disqualified by the Academy Awards as its mix of English, Sinhala and Tamil dialogue did not surpass the required percentage of non-English dialogue.
Mehta is best known for her Elements Trilogy — Fire (1996), Earth (1998) (released in India as 1947: Earth), and Water (2005) — which won her much critical acclaim. Some notable actors who have worked in this trilogy are Aamir Khan, Seema Biswas, Shabana Azmi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, John Abraham, Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, and Nandita Das. These films are also notable for Mehta's collaborative work with author Bapsi Sidhwa. Sidhwa's novel Cracking India (1991, U.S.; 1992, India; originally published as Ice Candy Man, 1988, England) is the basis for Mehta's 1998 film Earth. Mehta's film Water was later published by Sidhwa as the 2006 novel Water: A Novel. All three films have soundtracks composed by A. R. Rahman.
Fire follows the love affair between two sisters-in-law whose own sexless marriages bring them together in a passionate romance. It caused controversy upon its release as several Hindutva groups took issue with its central lesbian romance, one that was seen to break traditional family and religious value within society, as there were protests in cities across India. Internationally, the film was critically acclaimed and would go on to win the Most Popular Canadian Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival. This was also the first feature length dramatic film which Mehta both wrote and directed, a practice which she would continue throughout the rest of her career.
Earth focuses on the time before and during the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and how the life of one family was uprooted by this historical event. The film resembled Mehta's own family history as her parents fled the newly created Pakistan in 1947 whilst Mehta herself was born in Punjab, not far from the Indian/Pakistan border.
Water is the story of an eight-year-old child widow who is forced to enter a house of widows for the rest of her life. The film, meant to be shot in India, was attacked by Hindu fundamentalists who saw the film as disrespectful and who took issues with Mehta's earlier films and their portrayal of Hindu culture. Riots broke out, sets were destroyed, and death threats were issued towards the actors and Mehta, forcing production to stop. The regional government then overruled the permission given from the central government to the production which allowed them to film in the holy city of Varanasi however, four years later the movie was made in Sri Lanka. Water opened the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.
Mehta collaborated on the screenplay for Midnight's Children with the novel's author, Salman Rushdie. Indian American actor Satya Bhabha played the role of Saleem Sinai while other roles were played by Shriya Saran, Seema Biswas, Shabana Azmi, Anupam Kher, Siddharth Narayan, Rahul Bose, Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami and Darsheel Safary.
Many of Mehta's films across her career have focused on the duality of her national and cultural identity which has informed much of her filmmaking as she has been described as the "quintessential transnational filmmaker". With her childhood and heritage informing her of key Indian and Hindu traditions, she has been seen to compare these practices with a more "Westernized" philosophy that has often resulted in controversy. The production of her film Water was delayed by protests from Hindu fundamentalists whilst several of her other films releases have seen boycotts across India, including the film Fire.
Mehta participated in a TV PSA for the charity Artists Against Racism, and is a member of the organization.
|1975||At 99: A Portrait of Louise Tandy Murch||Yes||No||No||Documentary short film|
|1986||K.Y.T.E.S: How We Dream Ourselves||Yes||No||Yes||Documentary film|
|1988||Martha, Ruth and Edie||Yes||No||Yes||Directorial debut|
|1991||Sam & Me||Yes||No||Yes|
|2002||Bollywood/Hollywood||Yes||Yes||No||Also executive music producer|
|2003||The Republic of Love||Yes||Yes||No|
|2005||Water||Yes||Yes||No||Also development consultant|
|2006||Let's Talk About It||Yes||No||No||Documentary film; direct-to-video|
|2008||The Forgotten Woman||No||Yes||Executive||Documentary film|
|Heaven on Earth||Yes||Yes||Executive|
|2009||Cooking with Stella||No||Yes||Executive|
|2012||Midnight's Children||Yes||Yes||Executive||Based on the novel by Salman Rushdie|
|2016||Mostly Sunny||No||Yes||No||Documentary film|
|Anatomy of Violence||Yes||No||No|
|Fantassút||No||No||Yes||Documentary short film|
|The Big Crunch||No||No||Associate||Short film|
|2020||Funny Boy||Yes||Yes||No||Adaptation of the novel by Shyam Selvadurai|
TV and web series
|1976–1981||Spread Your Wings||Yes||Yes||Yes||Documentary:|
director (4 episodes);
writer (episode "Child of the Andes");
executive producer (13 episodes);
production (2 episodes);
sound (10 episodes)
|1989–1990||Danger Bay||Yes||No||No||4 episodes|
|1993–1996||The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles||Yes||No||No||2 episodes|
|2019||Leila||Yes||Yes||Creative||A Netflix original series based on a missing girl named leila:|
director (2 episodes);
writer and creative executive producer (6 episodes)
|2020||Little America||Yes||No||No||Episode "The Manager"|
|1983||For the Record||Ranjeet Singh||TV Series (episode "Reasonable Force")|
|2016||Toronto International Film Festival||Best Canadian Feature Film||Anatomy of Violence||Nominated|
|Valladolid International Film Festival||Golden Spike – Best Film||Nominated|
|Washington DC South Asian Film Festival||Outstanding Achievement in International Cinema||Won|
|2015||Toronto Film Critics Association Awards||Clyde Gilmour Award||Won|
|Toronto International Film Festival||Best Canadian Feature Film||Beeba Boys||Nominated|
|2013||Canadian Screen Awards||Achievement in Direction||Midnight's Children||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of Canada||DGC Team Award – Feature Film||Won|
|2012||London Film Festival||Best Film||Nominated|
|Valladolid International Film Festival||Golden Spike – Best Film||Nominated|
|2009||Directors Guild of Canada||DGC Team Award – Feature Film||Heaven on Earth||Nominated|
|Genie Awards||Best Screenplay, Original||Nominated|
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle||Best Director – Canadian Film||Nominated|
|2008||Dubai International Film Festival||Muhr AsiaAfrica Award: Best Scriptwriter – Feature||Won|
|Muhr AsiaAfrica Award: Best Film – Feature||Nominated|
|2007||Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists||Silver Ribbon – Best Non-European Director||Water||Nominated|
|Chlotrudis Awards||Best Director||Nominated|
|Awards of the International Indian Film Academy||Outstanding Achievement in International Cinema||Won|
|2006||Genie Awards||Best Achievement in Direction||Water||Nominated|
|Oslo Films from the South Festival||Silver Mirror Award – Best Feature||Won|
|New York Film Critics||Humanitarian Award||Won|
|San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival||Audience Award – Best Narrative Feature||Won|
|Taormina International Film Festival||Arte Award||Won|
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle||Best Director – Canadian Film||Won|
|Women Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Foreign Movie by or About Women||Won|
|2005||Toronto Female Eye Film Festival||Honorary Director Award||Won|
|Valladolid International Film Festival||Youth Jury Award||Water||Won|
|2003||Directors Guild of Canada||DGC Team Award – Feature Film||Bollywood/Hollywood||Won|
|Genie Awards||Best Screenplay, Original||Won|
|Newport International Film Festival||Student Jury Award||Won|
|Sarasota Film Festival||Audience Award – Best Comedy||Won|
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle||Best Director – Canadian Film||Nominated|
|1997||Paris Lesbian and Feminist Film Festival||Best Feature Film||Fire||Won|
|L.A. Outfest||Outstanding Narrative Feature||Won|
|Verona Love Screens Film Festival||Best Film||Won|
|1996||Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival||Special Prize of the Jury||Won|
|International Independent Award||Nominated|
|Vancouver International Film Festival||Most Popular Canadian Film||Won|
|1976||Chicago International Film Festival||Gold Hugo – Best Documentary||At 99: A Portrait of Louise Tandy Murch||Nominated|
In addition to her filmmaking awards, Mehta has received the following honors:
- Doctor of Laws, University of Victoria, 2009
- Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award Winner, 2009
- Governor General's Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, 2012
- Doctor of Laws, Mount Allison University, 2013
- Doctor of Letters, Concordia University, 2013
- Member of the Order of Ontario, 2013
- Officer of the Order of Canada, 2013
- Head Juror: In 2021 she was selected as head juror for BIFF New Current Award in 26th Busan International Film Festival to be held in October.
- List of female film and television directors
- List of LGBT-related films directed by women
- South Asian Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area
- Women's cinema
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- Mendes, Ana Cristina; Kuortti, Joel (21 December 2016). "Padma or No Padma: Audience in the Adaptations of Midnight's Children". The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. 52 (3): 501–518. doi:10.1177/0021989416671171. hdl:10451/29281. ISSN 0021-9894. S2CID 164759708.
- "Deepa finds Midnight's Children lead". The Times of India. 21 August 2010. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Dreaming of Midnight's Children
- Irrfan moves from Mira Nair to Deepa Mehta Archived 4 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Jha, Subhash K. (31 March 2011). "Darsheel Safary Darsheel Safary in Midnight's Children". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Nolen, Stephanie (15 May 2011). "Mehta at midnight". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
- Stojanova, Christina (2010). The Gendered Screen: Canadian Women Filmmakers. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 217–232.
- "Deepa Mehta is rightly being celebrated". Rediff.com. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- "TV – Artists Against Racism".
- "Randeep Hooda plays gangster in Deepa Mehta's next".
- "Honorary Degrees For Leaders in Arts, Business And Law". Communications.uvic.ca. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- "Canada's Top 25 Immigrants 2009". Canadian Immigrant. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
- "Rush wins Governor General's Award". CBC News. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
- "Honorary degree recipients 21st century". Mount Allison University.
- "Honorary degree recipients". Concordia University.
- "25 Appointees Named to Ontario's Highest Honour". Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.
- "Appointments to the Order of Canada". 28 June 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
- Ha Kyung-min (26 August 2021). "부산국제영화제, 경쟁부문 '뉴 커런츠' 심사위원 확정" [Busan International Film Festival Confirms Jury for 'New Currents' in Competition]. Newsis (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
- Beard, William; Jerry White (2002). "Deepa Mehta as Transnational Filmmaker". North of everything: English-Canadian cinema since 1980. University of Alberta. ISBN 978-0-88864-390-2.
- Levitin, Jacqueline; Judith Plessis; Valerie Raoul (2003). "25 An Introduction to Deepa Mehta: Making Films in Canada and India". Women Filmmakers: Refocusing. UBC Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-0903-0.
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