One on One
Deepa Mehta
Meet the independent and determined Indian-born, Canadian director, Deepa Mehta.
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2009 15:03 GMT

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This week on One on One, meet Deepa Mehta, the independent and determined Indian-born, Canadian director.

She says her films are made to challenge rigidly-held, out-dated beliefs and she is not afraid of raising eyebrows with storylines that often delve into issues that are largely taboo in the developing world.

She has been described as Canada's "most internationally renowned woman filmmaker."

The profession comes naturally to this accomplished director because her father – who took his family and fled to Amritsar during the partition of India and Pakistan - was a film distributor and theatre owner.

Deepa Mehta's own career in filmmaking began almost by accident when she joined a company making documentaries after graduating from the University of Delhi. Then she moved to Toronto in her early twenties after meeting a young Canadian filmmaker who was to become her husband.

What really put Mehta on the map was her artistic handling of sensitive subjects in what is called her Elements trilogy: Fire, in 1996, which focused on the politics of sexuality, Earth, which came out two years later and examines nationalism during India's partition and lastly the ill-fated Water in 2005.

Water focused on religion and was the most controversial of the three, leading to violent protests when she attempted to start filming in the town of Varanassi. The director received death threats from Hindu nationalists angered at the theme of Water.

Mehta's 2008 movie, Heaven on Earth continues to stir up the social conscience of Indians by looking at domestic violence, and features talented Bollywood star, Preity Zinta.

Mehta's continued close association with both India and North America inspires her more international style of directing and she still views herself as a kind of cultural hybrid.

This episode of One on One aired from Friday, March 6, 2009.

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