Indian Cinema’s Fearless Femme Director

Zoya Akhtar photo by Siya Singh

What Director Zoya Akhtar would really like to be is a rock star. It may perhaps be her greatest regret in life that her vocal chords won’t support that particular ambition. But, what Zoya wants, Zoya gets. So, when the desire hits, and she’s jonesing for a fix, she’ll throw a karaoke party at which she’s the headliner.

On the set, this pint-sized doyenne of Bollywood’s renowned Akhtar family is a mistress of diplomacy. Most definitely an actor’s director, her deft handling of Bollywood star egos resulted in serene, refreshing performances for her debut feature “Luck by Chance”, betraying a maturity far beyond her 30-something age. In “Luck by Chance” some of the starry talent she garnered – and she garnered almost everybody who is anybody in the Hindi film industry in a PLAYERish coup of casting – were people who have known her since she was in diapers. The film was critically well-received (including by the NY Times) with praise for Zoya’s depiction of Bollywood for all of what it is – the good and the bad.

With her first film, Zoya became the poster-girl for what’s being touted as ‘New Bombay Cinema’ – as the silver stiletto on her desk; Cosmopolitan’s Fun and Fearless Female of Film award, amongst others, stands proof. It remains to be seen if she can hold this title through her second film, “Zindagi Na Mile Dubara” which begins shooting next month.

A road movie set in Spain, “Zindagi Na Mile Dubara” stars her brother Farhan Akhtar, Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan and indie-film favorite, Abhay Deol. One wonders how someone of Roshan’s caliber agreed to being placed in the ‘sandwich’ between Farhan Akhtar’s rising star, and the new kid on the alternative cinema block, Abhay Deol. Perhaps it’s a testament to her writing skills. Then again, it could simply be: What Zoya wants, Zoya gets.

Whatever the case, we’re rooting for her success. After all, you have to love a woman who holds her own in the big, bad male driven world of Bollywood.

Story by Republic of Brown contributor Deepti Datt

You can find “Luck by Chance” on DVD at your Local Indian video store

For you Hindi speakers here’s the Luck By Chance Trailer (and below)
If you dare, try and dance along with Hrithik Roshan

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“Luck by Chance” trailer

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