Zoya Akhtar: Interesting facts and candid photos of the Gully Boy director with friends and family

Updated: 14 October, 2020 11:45 IST | Nikita Wagh
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    Born on October 14, 1972, filmmaker Zoya Akhtar is the daughter of legendary poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar and his actress-writer wife Honey Irani. Zoya is two years elder to her sibling actor Farhan Akhtar. Writing is in their blood as Zoya is the great-granddaughter of renowned Urdu poet Muztar Khairabadi and granddaughter of poet Jan Nisar Akhtar. (All photos/Zoya Akhtar and Tiger Baby Films's official Instagram account and AFP)

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    Being a daughter of gifted writers, Zoya Akhtar always had the mind of a writer and she won't ever give up her passion for anything.

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    "The writer in me is very strong. I feel whether I direct my next film or not, that will not majorly affect my life. But no matter where I am, I can't stop writing," Zoya said in an interview with mid-day in 2012.

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    Zoya Akhtar would always score the highest on essays in school. Since childhood, Zoya knew and was even told by her teachers that she can write well. No prizes to guess that she imbibed good reading habits from her parents - Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani.

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    Zoya, talking about her early introduction to world cinema, said, "My mom was in film school when we were in school, so we used to go to FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) on weekends. She used to collect a lot of films and she used to have a lot of DVDs on world cinema. So Farhan and I have seen a lot of films with her."

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    Zoya Akhtar shares a strong bond with brother Farhan Akhtar. She made her directorial debut with Luck By Chance in 2009, which starred Farhan as the lead face. The siblings then reunited twice - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do. "I feel she is really good at what she does. Everyone has a great deal of comfort in working with her and I feel the same," said Farhan when asked about their working equation.

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    Veteran Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi (married to Javed Akhtar) had shared this adorable photo of Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar and their first cousin Kabir Akhtar. Kabir Akhtar is a television director and Emmy-nominated editor and his credits include work for 'Arrested Development', 'New Girl' and 'The Daily Show' among others.

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    While Javed Akhtar is known to be a person of rules and manners, the veteran seems to transform into a soft-hearted father around daughter Zoya. In an old chat with mid-day, Javed Akhtar reminisced about Zoya's childhood saying, "I don't fear that she will turn out to be a better writer than me. It's just that I'm scared to argue with her as she has the ability to win all arguments. When Zoya was very young, all my friends used to call her Rani Jethmalani. Right since she was five-six years old, no one could win an argument with her. She would somehow prove it to you that you were wrong."

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    "I have learnt swimming, cycling and camping... all this we learnt from our mother. The reading habit (is what) I got from my father. Reading, questioning, analysing, discussing... all that came from my father," said Zoya.

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    Director and screenwriter Reema Kagti is Zoya Akhtar's best friend. Reema and Zoya were assistant directors on Bombay Boyz (1998) when they were 22. The duo has been friends since then. Reema and Zoya worked together on Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Dil Chahta Hai, Talaash and a few other films. "I love writing with her; she's a good writer and is extremely disciplined. She is also my best friend, which makes writing fun," said Zoya in a candid chat with mid-day.

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    Zoya Akhtar loves music. But more than that, she appreciates originality. "I have grown up listening to some of the greatest legends and hence my love for music has only grown. I like all genres of music -- right from Hindustani classical to jazz. But what I seek and often tend to like is originality and meaningful lyrics. Then the genre of music is not important. In this Internet age, it is difficult to get originality. Any music that is original is soulful for me," said Zoya.

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    Zoya Akhtar entertained the masses with Bollywood films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Dhadakne Do and Gully Boy, but you would be shocked to know that there was a time when she used to not like Hindi films.

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    "I never liked Hindi films during my college days. I decided to work in the advertising field and then I watched 'Salaam Bombay!' which made the biggest influence on me to be a filmmaker," Zoya Akhtar said.

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    From not liking Hindi films to becoming one of the most critically-acclaimed filmmakers of India, Zoya Akhtar has indeed made a name for herself. Her last directorial Gully Boy, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, was not just applauded in the country but was globally lauded at various international film festivals.

    In picture: Zoya Akhtar with Kiran Rao.

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    Zoya Akhtar definitely deserves a round of applause for her work as she has always been ahead of her times while putting her impactful thoughts and opinions into her work. The niche screenwriter has always been hailed by her fans for delivering content across platforms - movies and OTT.

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    With her films ranging from Luck By Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Dhadakne Do and Gully Boy and web series Lust Stories and Made In Heaven, Zoya last worked on a short film for Netflix's anthology Ghost Stories.

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    Here's wishing a very happy birthday to Zoya Akhtar!

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About The Gallery

It's director Zoya Akhtar's birthday on October 14. The popular filmmaker, who turns 48 this year, has carved a niche for herself in the entertainment industry. We take a look at the filmmaker's journey in filmdom, along with candid photos

First Published: 14 October, 2019 13:45 IST