Zoya Akhtar

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Zoya Akhtar
Zoya Akhtar gracing ‘Filmfare Glamour & Style Awards 2016’ (cropped).jpg
Zoya Akhtar at Filmfare Glamour & Style Awards in 2016
Born (1972-10-14) 14 October 1972 (age 48)
Alma materSt. Xavier's College, Mumbai
NYU (Tisch)
OccupationDirector, screenwriter,
Years active1999—present
Notable work
Luck By Chance
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Dil Dhadakne Do
Lust Stories
Gully Boy
Made in Heaven
RelativesSee Akhtar family

Zoya Akhtar (born 14 October 1972) is an Indian film director and screenwriter. After completing a diploma in filmmaking from NYU, she assisted directors such as Mira Nair, Tony Gerber and Dev Benegal, before turning writer-director in her own right. Akhtar is the recipient of several accolades, including 6 Filmfare Awards.[1]

She has directed movies such as Luck by Chance (2009), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Sheila Ki Jawani, a segment of Bombay Talkies (2013). She has co-written Talaash (2012) alongside Reema Kagti. She then went on to direct Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) and Gully Boy (2019).

Personal life[edit]

Zoya Akhtar was born to poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar and screenwriter Honey Irani. Akhtar's stepmother is actress Shabana Azmi.[2] Her younger brother, Farhan Akhtar, is an actor and director. She attended Maneckji Cooper and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Xavier's College, both from Mumbai. Later, she joined the New York University Tisch School of the Arts to learn film production.

Her great-grandfather, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, a scholar of Islamic studies and theology, edited the first diwan of Mirza Ghalib on his request and later became a figure during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 in his native Khairabad.[3]

She is great-granddaughter of Urdu poet Muztar Khairabadi and granddaughter of poet Jan Nisar Akhtar.

Akhtar grew up in an agnostic environment and along with her brother Farhan and father Javed Akhtar, and does not believe in any religion.[4][5]


Akhtar started her career as the co-director of a music video called Price of Bullets for a rock band called Pentagram. She has worked as a casting director for films including Split Wide Open (1999) and Dil Chahta Hai (2001), and as an assistant director for her brother Farhan Akhtar's films Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshya (2004). She then worked as an executive producer for her longtime associate and friend Reema Kagti's Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. (2007), also produced by Excel Entertainment.[6]

Zoya (right) with Reema Kagti

Akhtar made her directorial debut with Luck By Chance (2009), starring her brother Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma. It tells the story of a struggling actor who breaks into the industry. The film was well received by critics, despite underperforming at the box office.[7][8]

In 2011, she directed Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which starred an ensemble cast of Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin.[9] It turned out to be a huge commercial success at the box-office and won her the Filmfare Award for Best Director.

In 2013, Akhtar teamed up with Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar for Bombay Talkies. It was made as a celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema.[10][11] She then went on to direct Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), a film based on a dysfunctional Punjabi family starring Anil Kapoor as an egotistical industrialist, Shefali Shah as his bitter socialite-wife, and Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh as their children. The film also featured Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar as love interests for Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra respectively.[12][13]

In 2018, she then again teamed up with Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar for Lust Stories, which premiered on Netflix in June 2018.

After Dil Dhadakne Do, Akhtar directed Gully Boy starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.,[14] loosely based on the lives of Mumbai rapper Naezy.[15] Gully Boy won a second Best Director award at Filmfare. She thus became the only female director to win the award twice.

Zoya and Kagti also worked on a story for a web series produced by Tiger Baby Films and Excel Entertainment for Amazon Prime called Made in Heaven, a story about two wedding planners in New Delhi.[16][17]

She has also been invited to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[18]

As of October 2019, she is directing a segment of Ghost Stories (2020), an horror anthology film, consisting of 4 short film segments. Other segments are directed by Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar.[19] Ghost Stories premiered on Netflix on 1 January 2020.[20]



Year Film Note(s)
2009 Luck By Chance Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director[1] (shared with Ayan Mukerji for Wake Up Sid)
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Filmfare Award for Best Director[21][1]
IIFA Award for Best Director
Zee Cine Award for Best Director
Apsara Award for Best Director
2013 Bombay Talkies An anthology film, consisting of four short film segments directed by her, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar
2015 Dil Dhadakne Do Nominated - Screen Award for Best Director
2018 Lust Stories An anthology film, consisting of four short film segments directed by her, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar
2019 Gully Boy Filmfare Award for Best Director[1]
Screen Award for Best Director[22]
Selected for screening in Berlinale Special Section of 69th BIFF[23]
2019 Made in Heaven TV series
2 episodes
2020 Ghost Stories An anthology film, consisting of four short film segments directed by her, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar.[19]

As writer only[edit]

Year Film Director
2012 Talaash Reema Kagti

Executive Producer[edit]

Year Film Producer
2007 Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani
2009 Luck By Chance


Year Film
2004 Bride and Prejudice

Other Appearances[edit]

She appeared on the Valentine's Day charity show of Kaun Banega Crorepati along with her brother Farhan Akhtar.[24] She also appeared in a very brief role as Rasa Devi's (Rekha's) courtesan in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.[25] She and Shah Rukh Khan had a 'fireside chat' with Jeff Bezos of Amazon in January 2020.[26][27][28]


  1. ^ a b c d "Filmfare Awards Winners From 1953 to 2020". filmfare.com. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Shabana Azmi- Farhan and Zoya Akhtar - Bollywood stepmothers who share a beautiful bond with their step kids". The Times of India. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  3. ^ Jan Nisar Akhtar Biography The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (D -J). by Amaresh Datta. Sahitya Akademi, 2006. ISBN 81-260-1194-7. p. 1796-97.
  4. ^ "10 Self-Proclaimed Celebrity Atheists | Entertainment | iDiva.com | Page 4". iDiva.com. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Celebs who are atheist". Times of India. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Zoya Akhtar". Excel Entertainment.
  7. ^ "Zoya Akhtar". Outlook. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  8. ^ Adarsh, Taran. "Box office Top 5". Bollywood hungama. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  9. ^ "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara: Cast and Crew details". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  10. ^ "Bollywood directors join hands to pay homage to Indian cinema. She teamed up again with the same directorial squad, consisting of Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar to a direct Lust Stories, a Netflix Original Indian anthology film, consisting of four short film segments". The Times of India. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  11. ^ Dubey, Bharati (25 January 2012). "Film industry to mark Phalke centenary". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  12. ^ "'Dil Dhadakne Do' - Movie Review" (Mid-day.com). Mid Day. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Zoya Akhtar's film is about a dysfunctional Punjabi family". Times of India. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Ranveer Singh to turn composer for Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boyz". Deccan Chronicle. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Ranveer Singh Met Underground Rappers- Ranveer Singh Gully Boy Movie". Desi Hip Hop. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  16. ^ NAIRITA MUKHERJEE (18 June 2017). "After Inside Edge, is Zoya Akhtar's show next on Amazon Prime?". Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Farhan Akhtar might have a cameo in Zoya Akhtar's next". 15 December 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Zoya Akhtar invited to be a member of Oscar Academy". femina.in. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Karan Johar, Zoya, Dibakar and Anurag reunite for Netflix's 'Ghost Stories'". The New Indian Express. 15 April 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Netflix's Ghost Stories to Premier on January 1, 2020". News18. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  21. ^ "Zoya Announced as Best Director for ZNMD 2012".
  22. ^ "Star Screen Awards: Deepika Padukone, Ananya Panday add glam as Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh win top awards. Read complete winners list". Hindustan Times. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  23. ^ "Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Zoya Akhtar take Gully Boy global. See pics from Berlin Film Festival". Hindustan Times. 9 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Discuss: A Shah Rukh Valentine". Rediff. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  25. ^ "Zoya Akhtar". IMDb.
  26. ^ Arora, Akhil (21 January 2020). "Jeff Bezos, Shah Rukh Khan, Zoya Akhtar Talk Amazon, Storytelling, Failures, Superstitions, and More: How to Watch". India Today. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Shah Rukh Khan joins Jeff Bezos at blue carpet event, confesses he doesn't shop for 'underwear online'. See pics". Hindustan Times. 17 January 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Fireside Chat with Jeff Bezos, Shah Rukh Khan, Zoya Akhtar Amazon Prime Video". 17 January 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2020.

External links[edit]