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Zoya Akhtar

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She may have two films to her directorial credit, but Zoya Akhtar is anything but inexperienced.

In fact, it’s the sheer range of her experiences that seem to inform her work with relevance and contemporariness; giving her very glossy characters a very contradictory everydayness.

She’s been an advertising copywriter. She co-directed a music video called Price of Bullets for rock band Pentagram. She worked as a casting director for Dil Chahta Hai, Kamasutra and Split Wide Open. She was assistant director to brother Farhan Akhtar on Lakshya and Dil Chahta Hai. She worked as executive producer on fellow-director and longtime friend Reema Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. She even did a small acting role in Kamasutra, where she played one of Rekha’s disciples. In short, by the time Zoya decided she was going to make her own movies, she’d been inadvertently preparing for a long time.

An interest in cinema growing up was entirely inevitable – as daughter to Javed Akhtar who as one-half of the duo Salim-Javed has created some of Hindi cinema’s most epic moments, and Honey Irani, who has scripted some of recent decades’ biggest hits. But unsure that there was room for a different brand of cinema, she didn’t take the plunge into filmdom till she encountered Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay. “I was blown away,” she said in an interview to The Indian Express. “I went to Mira Nair and started working with her.”

Eventually her cinematic experiments channelled themselves into trysts with writing – she has written the story and screenplays for both Luck By Chance and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – and then came the reality of putting her New York film production diploma to the test. Luck By Chance won her more critical appreciation than box office bucks but it was with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara that she broke into the big league of directors, the movie going on to become one of 2011’s biggest grossers. Zoya is now working on her next feature film and has recently completed a short film celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema. .

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