Sooni Taraporevala

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Sooni Taraporevala
Sooni Taraporevala image
Sooni Taraporevala in 2010
Born1957 (age 62–63)
Occupationscreenwriter, film director, photographer
Years active1988–present

Sooni Taraporevala (born 1957) is an Indian screenwriter, photographer and filmmaker who is best known as the screenwriter of Mississippi Masala, The Namesake and Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay (1988), all directed by Mira Nair.[1]

She directed her first feature film, based on a screenplay of her own, an ensemble piece set in Bombay, in Spring, 2007, entitled Little Zizou.[2][3] This film explores issues facing the Parsi community to which she belongs.

She was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India in 2014.[4] She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi & the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

Early life and education[edit]

Born to a Parsi family. Sooni completed her schooling from Queen Mary school, Bombay. She received a full scholarship to attend Harvard University as an undergraduate. Though she majored in English & American Literature she took many film courses including filmmaking taught by Alfred Guzzetti,[5] She 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.[6][7][8] she returned to Los Angeles in 1988 and worked as a screenwriter writing commissioned screenplays for a wide variety of studios including Universal, HBO & Disney.


Ms. Taraporevala wrote the screenplays for Salaam Bombay and Mississippi Masala, both directed by Mira Nair 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 2006.[4]

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, 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).[citation needed]

In 2016 she directed a 14-minute Virtual Reality film Yeh Ballet for Anand Gandhi's Memesys Lab.


In 1982, 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.[5]

In 2000, she self-published PARSIS The Zoroastrians of India 1980-2004 which is a traditionally closed off community since their persecution in Persia, the first and only visual documentation of the Parsi community. A runaway success, the second edition was published in partnership with Overlook Press, NY, in 2004 and is still in print.[citation needed]

Her photographs have been exhibited in India, the US, France and Britain, including London's Tate Modern gallery.[citation needed]

She has had solo shows at the Carpenter Center of Visual Arts, Harvard University, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai and the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi. Her work is in the permanent collections of the NGMA Delhi and the MET New York. Her work Godrej Typewriter Factory, Bombay is not currently on display at The Met, New York.

The Whitworth in Manchester is currently exhibiting her photographic show Home in the City, Bombay 1977-Mumbai 2017. It was selected by The Guardian as one of UK's top 5 shows. It will run till January 2018.

A larger version of Home in the City with 102 photographs will open at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai on 13 October through 31 October 2017. It will travel to Sunaparanta, Goa & open there on 11 November 2017.

An accompanying book published by Harper Collins will launch on 12 October 2017 with essays by Pico Iyer and Salman Rushdie.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Firdaus Bativala, a dental surgeon. They have two children, Jahan Bativala is an undergraduate at Brown University and Iyanah Bativala at Cornell University. Taraporevala lives in Mumbai, India.




Oscar Academy[10] Member of Writers Guild of America since 1989


  1. ^ Viets, Alexandra (12 October 1994). "From Hollywood Back to Bombay". New York Times.
  2. ^ "The Serious Laugh Junkie". Tehelka. 7 March 2009. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Little Zizou, an insider's view to Parsi community". CNN-IBN. 27 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b Das, Soma (16 October 2015). "'Life's all about taking risks' : Filmmaker-author Sooni Taraporevala". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b Tree A. Palmedo (30 October 2012). "Portrait of an Artist: Sooni Taraporevala". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  6. ^ Biography
  7. ^ "'I was called a rudderless ship'". Tehelka. 16 October 2004. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012.
  8. ^ Sooni was everywhere, doing everything!, 6 April 2001.
  9. ^ "Padma Awards Announced". Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Academy invites record 774 new members; 39 percent female, 30 percent people color". The Hollywood Reporter. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.

External links[edit]