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Deepa Mehta Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (1)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (5)  | Personal Quotes (7)

Overview (1)

Born in Amritsar, Punjab, India

Mini Bio (1)

Deepa Mehta is a transnational artist and a screenwriter, director, and producer whose work has been called "courageous", "provocative" and "breathtaking". Her visually lush and emotionally resonating films have played at every major international film festival; receiving numerous awards and accolades, and have been distributed around the world. Deepa was born in India and received a degree in philosophy from the University of New Delhi before immigrating to Canada. She began her career making documentaries in India.

In 1991, Deepa's first feature film Sam & Me, which stars Om Puri, won a Special Jury Mention in the Camera D'Or section at the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1992-1994 she directed two episodes of The Young Indiana Jones, produced by George Lucas for ABC. In 1993, Deepa directed her second feature film Camilla, a Canada-UK co-pro starring Jessica Tandy, Bridget Fonda, Elias Koteas, Maury Chaykin, Graham Greene, and Hume Cronyn. Fire, which Deepa wrote and directed, is the first film in her Elemental Trilogy (Fire, Earth, Water). Fire opened Perspective Canada at the 1996 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was runner-up for the People's Choice Most Popular Film Award. It played at the New York Film Festival and won many awards worldwide, including the Audience Award for Best Canadian Film at the Vancouver International Festival, the Special Jury Prize at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival and Silver Hugo Awards for Best Direction and Best Actress in Chicago.

Earth, based on Bapsi Sidhwa's acclaimed novel about Partition, Cracking India, is the second film in the Elemental Trilogy. It premiered as a Special Presentation at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival, and won the Prix Premiere du Public at the Festival du Film Asiatique de Deauville and the Critics' Award at the Verona Schermi d'Amore International Film Festival. Bollywood/Hollywood was a change of pace. Written and directed by Deepa, it is a lighthearted, affectionate comedy about two mismatched lovers. It opened Perspective Canada at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival and was a tremendous crossover box office success. It remains one of the top 10 grossing English language Canadian movies. In 2003 Deepa co-wrote and directed the Canada-UK co-pro The Republic of Love, based on a Carol Shields novel.

After a disrupted and hazardous production history Deepa's final film in the Elemental Trilogy Water opened the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, and was the first Canadian film acquired by US distributor Fox Searchlight. Water is a powerful, hauntingly tragic story, set in Benares (Varanasi) about a child widow who at the age of eight is forced to enter a house of widows where she has to live for the rest of her life. The movie was to have been shot in India in 2000, but Hindu fundamentalists fomented riots, burnt sets, and issued death threats against the director and actors, forcing production to shut down and the filmmakers to leave the country. Water was successfully remounted in Sri Lanka and completed shooting in June 2004, and features many of India's most renowned actors.

Water was an enormous success. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 79th Annual Academy Awards, and has screened at festivals around the world, winning many awards, and remains an audience favourite. The Vancouver Film Critics Circle named Deepa Mehta the Best Canadian Director of 2006. This fall (2015) is the 10th anniversary of Water's launch.

In 2006 Deepa made a documentary about domestic violence in Toronto's immigrant families called Let's Talk About It, which continues to be used in community outreach programs. She then thematically segued into the feature film Heaven On Earth, which explores arranged marriages and isolation. Starring Preity Zinta, the film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008. It was awarded a Silver Hugo for Best Actress at the Chicago International Film Festival, and received the Best Screenplay Award at the Dubai International Film Festival. It also won the Youth Jury Award at the Schermi d'Amore Film Festival in Verona and the Audience Award at the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival.

In 2012, Deepa completed her epic cinematic adaptation of Salman Rushdie's famous novel about the history of India in the 20th century, Midnight's Children. A novel that won three Booker prizes. The movie, with 127 speaking parts, and covering five distinct time periods from 1917-1977, was a vast, ambitious undertaking and has screened all over the world, including the Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, and the BFI London Film Festival. Midnight's Children was chosen as the Best Feature Film of 2013 at the Directors Guild of Canada's Awards.

Deepa's work as an artist, as a progressive voice about social issues, and her generous mentorship have often been recognized. She has received numerous honorary degrees and many awards and honours, among them: The Life of Distinction Award from the Canadian Centre of Diversity, The Excellence in the Arts Award from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the Woman of Distinction, President's Award from the YMCA. She is a recipient of the Governor General's Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award for Film. Most recently, in 2013, Deepa was appointed as an officer to the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour, for her work as a "groundbreaking screenwriter, director, and producer." She is also a recipient of the province of Ontario's highest honour, the Order of Ontario.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Salar.HM

Spouse (1)

Paul Saltzman (1973 - 1983) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trivia (5)

Sister of Dilip Mehta
Emigrated to Canada in 1973.
Daughter, Devyani, with Saltzman, born 1980.
Graduated from University of New Delhi.
Father was a film distributor.

Personal Quotes (7)

There aren't that many movies that strike me on a personal level that I would say, "Oh, my God, this would be great to see," because women usually play secondary characters. There's nobody out there saying, "This is where we are."
I think it's slightly naive for me to think that films make a difference. But what it can do is start a dialog and provoke discussion.
I would prefer to be known as a storyteller. I don't set out to provoke reactions. I don't even feel vindicated [by Water's success] but the irony does not escape me. It is like my father used to say: the two things you could never predict were the day of your death and the success of a movie.
[on her film 'Heaven on Earth'] There's a Jekyll and Hyde side to this story. The abuser in this case isn't a monodimensional villain. He's under a great deal of stress to live up to his role as the family patriarch, and to take care of everyone.I had no interest in simply pointing a finger at men and saying it's all your fault! Things are far more complicated than that. There are cultural implications and family dynamics. Sometimes just a plain lack of personal privacy can set a cycle of violence in motion because couples don't have the space to talk through their problems.
There are two things that matter a lot to East Indians in the diaspora: cricket and Bollywood. We're investing money in the community, saying 'We understand this is what makes you happy'. Because of it's position as a superpower, everything India does is now taken seriously, including a cinema that was derided ten years ago.
All art is political, it's not personal. Somehow it reflects on the politics of our time. I don't see myself as carrying a placard with a message in my films. What motivates me are the stories. But those stories are usually issue-oriented. It has to be something I'm passionate about, because making a film too much time and energy.
The first time I made magic was a moment when we were shooting 'Water'. It's where the little girl gives her 'ladoo', a sugary sweet, to the older woman and she watches her eat it. It was the expression on the little girl's face of - in a way she wanted it so much. There was the greed of the child as well as the acceptance that maybe it was the right thing to do.

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