Writer of the Week: Zoya Akhtar

In the third installment of our feature article honoring the writing month, BollyCurry brings to you another talented writer who has made her own niche in the ever expanding entertainment industry - Zoya Akhtar.

Friday, March 21, 2014   |  Copyright: BollyCurry  |  Comments 3 Comments  |  1881 Views


In the third installment of our feature article honoring the writing month, BollyCurry brings to you another talented writer who has made her own niche in the ever expanding entertainment industry - Zoya Akhtar.

Born on October 14th, 1972 to screenwriter Honey Irani and the renowned screenwriter, lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar, Akhtar seemed destined to pursue creative endeavors. Not only that, she is the granddaughter of the well-known Urdu poet, Jan Nisar Akhtar and sister of the multi-talented director, actor, producer, singer and lyricist Farhan Akhtar. Akhtar began her education at the Maneckji Cooper School in Mumbai and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. Following her graduation from college, she joined the prestigious New York University Film School to further explore the art of film production.

Akhtar began her career in Bollywood as an actress with a small role in Mira Nair's 1996 film Kamasutra: A Tale of Love where she essayed the role of one Rekha's disciples. She then went on to work on a number of commercials including Finolex and Pepsi. She has even co-directed a music video named "Price of Bullets" for the Indian rock band, Pentagram. However, for Akhtar, her true calling was behind the camera. She worked as a casting director for Kama Sutra: A Tale of LoveSplit Wide Open and Dil Chahta Hai, and as an assistant director for Farhan's Lakshya and Dil Chahta Hai. Following these projects, she progressed to working as an executive producer for Reema Kagti's film Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.

With the dawn of 2009, Akhtar expanded her cinematic journey into writing and directing. Luck by Chance (2009), starring Farhan Akhtar and Konkana Sen Sharma, marked her directorial debut.  Not only that, she wrote the story and the screenplay for the movie as well. The film failed to bring in big numbers at the box office although it was well received by critics. Nonetheless, it earned Akhtar the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director.

If Luck by Chance gave Akhtar attention, it was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) that catapulted her into the big league of Bollywood. The movie starring Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin, was all in all a Zoya Akhtar package; she was the story writer, screenplay writer and director for the movie. The film was well received by critics and audiences alike and earned her a plethora of accolades including the coveted Filmfare Best Director Award.  

Akhtar followed up her Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara success with Talaash - The Answer Lies Within(2012). The neo-noir film starred Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor in leading roles. The movie, which was co-written by Akhtar and her buddy Reema Kagti, had mostly favorable reviews from critics and a modest collection at the box office. In 2013, she teamed up with Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar for an anthology film celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema titled Bombay Talkies. The film too received positive reviews upon release.  

Currently Akhtar is working on her next feature film, Dil Dhadakne Do, which is centered on a dysfunctional Punjabi family and will feature Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra as on-screen siblings. The film is scheduled to be shot over open seas in various locations around Europe including Spain, Turkey, Italy and France. Expected to release in 2015, it also will star Anil Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar and Anushka Sharma; the latter will team up with her Band Baaja Baraat co-star, Ranveer Singh as an on-screen couple.

Author: Marsh P.
Editor(s): Urooj K and Jenifer Y.
Graphics: Fizii.

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