Zoya Akhtar on 15 years in film industry: ‘This is my home’

Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar has completed 15 years in the industry.

Zoya Akhtar on 15 years in film industry: ‘This is my home’

Zoya Akhta (photo:IANS)

Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar has completed 15 years in the industry.

The daughter of celebrated screenwriters Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani and the elder sister to director-actor-singer Farhan Akhtar, Zoya earned a diploma in filmmaking from New York University.

While she was trying to find her footing in the film industry, she assisted directors like Mira Nair, Tony Gerber, and Dev Benegal. It was around this time in 1997 that she met Reema Kagti, who later became her frequent collaborator.


The two had a dramatic first meeting.

Zoya went for an audition for a role in Kaizad Gustad’s ‘Bombay Boys’. Reema was the one taking the audition whom Zoya told that she didn’t think she did a good job.

Reema agreed, saying, “I don’t think you are getting the job either.”

Zoya eventually ended up working as an assistant director in the film along with Reema.

The two again collaborated as assistant directors for Farhan’s directorial debut, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’.

Later, Zoya served as an executive producer for ‘Lakshya’ with Reema as the first assistant director. And for Reema’s directorial debut ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’, Zoya stepped up as the executive producer.

Two years later, Zoya made her directorial debut with ‘Luck by Chance’ starring her brother in the lead.

After a two-year interval, she delivered one of the most loved road trip films in Indian cinema, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ (2011), starring her brother Farhan, Abhay Deol, and Hrithik Rochan in lead roles.

Reema followed up with the Aamir Khan-Kareena Kapoor starrer ‘Talaash: The Answer Lies Within’, which was co-written by Zoya and Reema.

By 2015, Zoya became an established name in the Hindi film industry with films like ‘Dil Dhadakane Do’, which starred a host of Bollywood stars and revived the career of Shefali Shah.

After the streaming anthology ‘Lust Stories’, she returned with one of her most influential works, ‘Gully Boy’ (2019) starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.

The film was loosely based on the lives of Indian rappers Divine and Naezy.

Zoya solidified her position as a filmmaker with her part in the streaming horror anthology ‘Ghost Stories’.

Over the years, Zoya has carved a niche for herself, and today she is known as a storyteller who believes in exploring deeper layers of the subtexts — be it the interpersonal relations and dealing with trauma in ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, the dysfunctional family in ‘Dil Dhadakane Do’, or the struggles of the working class in ‘Gully Boy’.

The filmmaker is set to have a retrospective on completing 15 years in cinema as a filmmaker. The week-long festival will showcase a selection of Zoya’s films, including ‘Luck By Chance’, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, ‘Gully Boy’, and ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’.

Talking about the retrospective, Zoya said, “When I heard about this initiative, I was excited because my films are going to be on the big screen again. I love movies. This industry has got all my heart, I do not want to be anywhere else… This is my home.”

The retrospective will be held in Mumbai from June 7 to June 14.