Zoya Akhtar is among Bollywood’s best filmmakers today. But there was a time when she had no intentions of making films. At the Poorna panel discussion in Mumbai, Rahul Bose along with senior journalist Barkha Dutt, film director Zoya Akhtar, wrestler Sakshi Malik, and Poorna, the youngest girl in the world to climb the Mount Everest, were present. They spoke on “Ladkiya Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hai”. On this occasion Zoya Akhtar opened up about her life and her inspiration – her mother Honey Irani, the failure of her first film Luck By Chance, and how Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara changed her life forever.
Honey Irani, who started her career as a child artist, had to drop out of school at a young age
“My mom was a child star, but she was self educated as she was pulled out of school. Then my parents got married, and after that she decided that she wants to learn the technicalities of filmmaking. So she went to FTII. I still remember how we used to go to Pune and spend the weekends with her there.”
Zoya’s first encounter with sexism
“We were treated the same, Farhan and I. My first experience with sexism was in college when my friend wasn’t allowed for a late night out even when her brother would chill with us. That made me quite furious. And I knew that it made me uncomfortable.”
On Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara success, and life after that
Zoya started her career as an assistant director in 1998. Then, there were also speculations that she would become an actor, given her brother Farhan, who was also an established actor by that time, but she had other plans.
“I chose not to work in Hindi films because I didn’t like the movies that were made at that time. I had just returned from New York University Film school. So I chose to do independent films instead. Being an assistant director is like being a bad cop, hence I chose to become a director. So I am not bossy, I am the boss! Luck By Chance happened ironically. I made the film, but nobody watched it. The press and critics were amazing to the film, and I got great reviews, but nobody watched it. We didn’t make money. People didn’t understand it.”
“However, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara did wonders for me and it changed my life. I made it because I wanted to go on a road trip and it turned out to be amazing. Every film is the same, you start with a scratch and take it ahead from there.”
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