Jag Mundhra

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Jag Mundhra
Jag Mundhra.jpg
Born(1948-10-29)29 October 1948
Nagpur, India
Died4 September 2011(2011-09-04) (aged 62)
Mumbai, India
Alma materMichigan State University
IIT Bombay
Spouse(s)Chandra Mundhra
ChildrenSmriti Mundhra
AwardsZanzibar International Film Festival Golden Dhow (2001)
Bollywood Movie Awards (2001)
Political Film Society, USA (PFS) Award - Peace Category (2004)
Audience Choice Award Bermuda International Film Festival (2001)

Jag Mundhra (born Jagmohan Mundhra 29 October 1948 – 4 September 2011) was an Indian American director, producer, and screenwriter, best known for his early career as an American exploitation film writer-director.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

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.[3][4]

According to 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. ... Even 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".[3]

IIT Bombay and United States[edit]

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".[3] He pursued a master's degree in electrical engineering but switched to a PhD program in motion pictures at University of Michigan, before embarking on his film career.[1]


After his first dramas, Suraag (1982), and the socially-relevant film, Kamla (1984), 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), Hack-O-Lantern (1988), Night Eyes (1990), The Other Women (1992), 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).[5]

Beginning with Bawandar (2000), which he directed under the name Jagmohan, Mundhra was back to issue-oriented films. Bawandar is about the fight of a poor woman for justice and was based on the story of a Rajasthani woman, Bhanwari Devi.[6] After the film's release, Ashok Gehlot, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, called Mundhra and said, "Aapke bawandar ne bada bawander machaya hai." He gave Rs 50,000 and land to 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".[3] In his own words, Kamla, Bawandar and Provoked (2006) are his trilogy of strong female-centric films.[7]

At the time of his death, Mundhra was working on a film based on the life of Sonia Gandhi.[8] Mundhra was also a life member of the International Film & Television Club of the Asian Academy of Film & Television.


Personal life[edit]

Mundhra is the father of Academy Award-nominated director/producer Smriti Mundhra.[9]


Mundhra died in Mumbai on 4 September 2011, aged 62, from pneumonia and multiple organ failure.[10]


  1. ^ a b "India film-maker Jagmohan Mundhra dies at 64 - BBC News". BBC News. 5 September 2011.
  2. ^ http://www.indiablooms.com/BollywoodDetailsPage/bollywoodDetails040911a.php. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d Chhibber, Kavita (4 November 2003). "Dr. Jagmohan Mundra: Mr. Controversy". KavitaChhibber.com. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  4. ^ "IIT Ypanels - June 7 - Panelist Bios". Archived from the original on 1 December 2008.
  5. ^ "Jag Mundhra". Archived from the original on 21 September 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  6. ^ "South Asian American Films and Arts Association". Archived from the original on 25 October 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2008.
  7. ^ "Jagmohan Mundhra speaks on Provoked". Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  8. ^ India Times
  9. ^ "Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Smriti Mundhra on how she made St Louis Superman". The Indian Express. 15 March 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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