Deepa Mehta (born January 1, 1950) is a director and screenwriter who directed "Benares, January 1910" (later edited into Journey of Radiance) and the "Athens, July 1910" segment of Young Indiana Jones: Travels with Father (later re-edited as Travels with Father). She is the only woman to have directed any production in the Indiana Jones franchise.
After Mehta received a Caméra d'Or (Mention Spéciale) for her feature film Sam & Me at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, producer Rick McCallum saw the film in London and admired it enough that he recommended her to George Lucas as a potential director for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. When Lucas first contacted her, however, she did not believe it was him:
- I got a call from a guy who said he was George Lucas. He loved Sam & Me and wanted to chat about a series he was doing for ABC called The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. I replied by saying something like, "Yeah, and I am Princess Leia," and then hung up on him. When we later reconnected, Mister Lucas had a good laugh, while I felt like a real idiot.
Despite that misunderstanding, Mehta was successfully recruited for the series and found it "a wonderful experience working for George and Rick." The process of filming "Benares, January 1910" in particular had a profound effect on her career, as Mehta first worked with cinematographer Giles Nuttgens (who would become her frequent collaborator) on that episode and the screenplay for her film Water was initially inspired by an encounter with a Hindu widow on the ghats along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India during its production:
- As a part of prep, I spent early mornings at the banks of the Ganges trying to get a feel for the city that attracted pilgrims from all over India. Amongst them were Hindu widows who, because of convoluted religious beliefs, were relegated to a life of deprivation and indignity.
When production on Water was later sabotaged by extremists in India, Lucas showed his support and "spoke out on her behalf, taking out a full-page ad in a trade paper to decry the fundamentalists' actions." Echoing what Lucas and Steven Spielberg had done with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mehta eventually relocated the movie's production to Sri Lanka.
Mehta is best known for writing and directing the Elemental Trilogy of films, which consists of Water (with Iranganie Serasinghe) along with its predecessors Fire and Earth. Her additional directorial credits include the feature films Camilla (with George Harris), Bollywood/Hollywood, The Republic of Love (with Lloyd Owen), Heaven on Earth, Midnight's Children, Beeba Boys, and Anatomy of Violence, as well as numerous documentaries. She also co-directed the anthology film Martha, Ruth & Edie, directed episodes of the Canadian television series Danger Bay and Inside Stories, and co-wrote the feature film Cooking with Stella.
Notes and references
- Carli, Vittorio. "Interview with Director Deepa Mehta." ArtInterviews.com (2006).
- Mehta, Deepa. "Deepa Mehta Shares Her Journey in Film (Death Threats Included)." The Review (July 30, 2017).
- "Deepa Mehta on Water: Director's Statement." Collider (April 27, 2006).
- Macnab, Geoffrey. "Deepa Mehta: A Director in Deep Water - All Over Again." The Independent (May 19, 2006).