Sabrina Dhawan

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Sabrina Dhawan
Monsoon Wedding poster.jpg
Movie Poster of Dhawan's 2001 Film
Born Sabrina Dhawan
London, England
Subject Indian Family Life, Women Screenwriters, Indian Film
Years active 2000–present
Spouse Steve Cohen (2006 - 2012)

Sabrina Dhawan is an Indian screenwriter and producer, born in England and raised in Delhi, India.

Dhawan is an associate professor and the area head of screenwriting at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She has been commissioned to write for many large companies including Disney, HBO, ABC Family and 20th Century Fox.[1] She has taught at filmmaking labs all over the world.

Dhawan is most well known for her writing credits on various feature-length films, as well as some producing and directing work on her own independent short films.[2] She works a great deal within Indian and Bollywood cinema. Monsoon Wedding, a 2001 film directed by Mira Nair, is one of her earliest and most well known works, launching her screenwriting career.

Dhawan has a brief acting cameo in Monsoon Wedding as a wedding guest.

Early life[edit]

Dhawan was born in England and raised in Delhi. Dhawan attended both the Convent of Jesus and Mary as well as Delhi Public School for her elementary education. She then went on to Hindu College to obtain her Bachelor of Arts and to Leicester University, U.K. for a Masters of Arts in Communications Research.[3] Dhawan then moved to New York City, where she graduated from Columbia University's Graduate Film Program in 2001 with a Masters of Fine Arts in Film.[4]

Her student short film, (Saanjh) As Night Falls, which she made during the last years of her MFA, has been extremely successful since its release in 2000.

Personal life[edit]

In 2006, Dhawan married Steve Cohen, who wrote the screenplay for The Bachelor (1999) starring Chris O'Donnell and Renée Zellweger. Her husband died 6 years later on September 29, 2012.[5]

Dhawan currently lives in New York City with their son, Kabir.[1]


Graduating from Columbia in 2001, the same year as the release of Monsoon Wedding, Dhawan's career was almost immediate. In fact, Dhawan wrote the first draft of the screenplay while she was still in school - it only took her about a week.[6] Fusing Hindi, Punjabi, and English, Dhawan wrote the multi-lingual script for Monsoon Wedding.[7] The film was premiered in the Marché du Film section of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for various awards, including a Golden Globe.

After their pairing on Monsoon Wedding, Dhawan and Nair formed a brief partnership in which Dhawan worked as Nair's assistant at Columbia sometime in the early 2000s.[8] She also wrote the segment "India" (directed by Nair) in 11'09"01 September 11, a series of short films for Canal Plus in 2002.[9]

Dhawan's short film (Saanjh) As Night Falls was awarded the Best of the Festival at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. It also received the Audience Award at Angelus Awards; and was voted "Most Original Film," by New Line Cinema at the Polo Ralph Lauren New Works Festival in 2000.[4]

In 2009, Dhawan acted as co-producer for the first three episodes of a TV Series titled Bollywood Hero. Since her short film in 2000, Dhawan has written for 9 other projects (feature films, documentaries, TV series) leading up to today.

Dhawan is currently working as a playwright for a Broadway adaptation of Monsoon Wedding, originally scheduled to premiere in 2014; however, the production is still under development and is planned to make its debut sometime in 2017.[10] Additionally, a new feature film titled Rangoon, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, is currently being filmed. Dhawan has worked alongside Bhardwaj on a number of projects and continues to with Rangoon in the production process.


Year Film Role Genre
2000 (Saanjh) As Night Falls Writer/Director Fiction Short
2001 Monsoon Wedding Writer Fiction
2002 11'09"01 September 11 ("India") Writer Fiction Short
2003 Cosmopolitan Writer Fiction (TV)
2004 Independent Lens Writer (2 Episodes) TV Documentary
2009 Kaminey Writer Fiction (Film)
2010 Ishqiya Writer Fiction (Film)
2011 Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told Writer Documentary
2013 Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola Script Consultant Fiction
2016 Rangoon Writer Fiction (Film)

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Festival/Institution Award Film Result
2000 Palm Spring International Festival of Short Films Best of the Festival (Saanjh) As Night Falls Won
2001 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Monsoon Wedding Won
2002 Venice Film Festival Best Short Film 11'09"01 September 11 Won
2002 Venice Film Festival UNESCO Award 11'09"01 September 11 Won
2002 Zee Cine Awards Special Award for International Cinema Monsoon Wedding Won
2002 Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film Monsoon Wedding Nominated
2002 BAFTA Awards Best Film Not in the English Language Monsoon Wedding Nominated
2002 Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Foreign Language Film Monsoon Wedding Nominated
2002 British Independent Film Awards Best Foreign Independent Film - Foreign Language Monsoon Wedding Won
2003 Golden Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language Monsoon Wedding Nominated
2003 César Awards (France) Best European Union Film 11'09"01 September 11 Nominated
2003 National Board of Review (US) Freedom of Expression Award 11'09"01 September 11 Won
2004 Director's View Film Festival Feature Documentary Independent Lens[11] Won
2004 San Diego Film Festival Best Short Film Independent Lens Won
2004 Toronto ReelWorld Film Festival Best International Short Film Independent Lens Won
2010 Filmfare Awards Best Film Kaminey Nominated
2010 Awards of the International Indian Film Academy Best Picture Kaminey Nominated
2011 Awards of the International Indian Film Academy Best Screenplay Ishqiya Nominated
2011 Awards of the International Indian Film Academy Best Dialogue Ishqiya Won


  1. ^ a b "Sabrina Dhawan". Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  2. ^ "Sabrina Dhawan". IMDb. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  3. ^ Dhawan, S. (2016, March). Getting to Know Sabrina Dhawan [E-mail interview].
  4. ^ a b "Sabrina Dhawan". Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  5. ^ "Steven L. Cohen's Obituary on Rochester Democrat And Chronicle". Rochester Democrat And Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  6. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (2006). Mercy in her eyes: the films of Mira Nair. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 166–7. 
  7. ^ Sen, Atreyee and Neha Raheja Thakker (April 2011). "Prostitution, pee-ing, percussion, and possibilities: Contemporary women documentary film-makers and the city in South Asia.". South Asian Popular Culture. doi:10.1080/14746689.2011.553886. 
  8. ^ Boltin, Kylie (2002). "Mira Nair's New Film Monsoon Wedding: A Discussion Of". Metro. 
  9. ^ "Sabrina Dhawan". The Hindu. 2013-12-02. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  10. ^ "Confirmed: Monsoon Wedding to open on Broadway in 2016". Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  11. ^ Independent Lens, 1999-08-09, retrieved 2016-03-30 

External links[edit]