In Conversation With Deepa Mehta (2020)

  • Interviewed by Clare Stewart
  • 58min

Oscar nominated director Deepa Mehta began her cinematic journey in Amritsar, India, home to the famous Golden Temple, where her Father owned a cinema theatre, and moved to New Delhi before settling in Canada. Her filmmaking journey began by way of making documentaries, which led to her debut feature film Sam and Me, as a solo director, which got an honorable mention at the Cannes film festival. She was soon affiliated with George Lucas via her work in TV, and more recently in the Netflix TV series Leila, showing her fluidity in working across different cinematic mediums. She worked with Hollywood leading ladies Jessica Tandy and Bridget Fonda in Camilla (1994). Her eye for less explored Indian stories, brought her most talked about work, the “Elements” trilogy with Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2006), which tackled controversial topics from LGBTQ+ to polio to the plight of widows in a Benares Ashram to the patriarchy. Facing numerous threats during the filming of Water didn’t phase Deepa, who proceeded to work with the polemic writer Salman Rushdie in the film adaptation of Midnight’s Children. She took viewers on a lighter journey in 2002, with Bollywood/Hollywood, and then deeply touched hearts with Heaven on Earth, where she created a tale of mysticism inspired by India’s “Nagin the snake woman” myth, juxtaposed with the deep horrors of domestic violence in an immigrant tale, set in Canada. In this “In Conversation” event, she delves into many aspects of her work, from violence depicted on screen, to creatives she’s worked with, like double Grammy and double Oscar winner AR Rahman, and gets candid about Funny Boy, a book adaptation set in Sri Lanka, which she is currently in post production for.