I’m a sucker for books: Deepa Mehta

Deepa Mehta is on the jury for the exciting new JCB Prize

By Saionee Chakraborty
  • Published 6.10.18, 8:26 PM
  • Updated 7.10.18, 2:30 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Deepa Mehta Agencies

She is a “sucker” for books and, as a jury member of The JCB Prize for Literature, had just finished “15,000 pages” for the longlist when we caught up with Deepa Mehta on phone. A peek into the Fire filmmaker’s reading list. 

Saionee Chakraborty:

What reading 15,000 pages entails...

Deepa Mehta:

It entails giving me a medal! (Laughs) I am just kidding! I think Vivek Shanbhag said that earlier. He said, you have to read with focus and discipline. You have to come up with a longlist… you have to give each and every one the same attention. 

Saionee Chakraborty:

What books do to a voracious reader like you...

Deepa Mehta:

I have been a book-lover for many years. I grew up with books… whether it was my mother who introduced me at a very young age to Premchand or whether it was reading Enid Blyton when we were really young. There was a bookstore in Amritsar where I grew up called the Booklover’s Retreat and the first sort of adult book I read was because of the owner. He asked whether I had read Oscar Wilde.... When do you start reading serious books and when do you start reading murder mysteries. 

Saionee Chakraborty:

Genre of writing you are drawn to...

Deepa Mehta:

Certain books are really good at certain points in your life, not because you are growing old but the kind of mood you are in. I would love to read science fiction. If I am really in the middle of a film and I don’t want to have anything to do with that kind of a film, I would read a John le Carre… it depends on that. It’s not one genre that I really love. I like them all… I’m a sucker for books. 

Saionee Chakraborty:

Authors you keep going back to...

Deepa Mehta:

My go-back-to book is Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. One of the books I read when I was nine was Malory Towers by Enid Blyton. And then there is War and Peace. I love the short stories of Manto. One thing I keep on rereading are short stories of Munshi Premchand. Kafan is my most favourite short story of all time. I think along, with (Anton) Chekhov…. I think Vivek’s book (Ghachar Ghochar) is fantastic. 

Saionee Chakraborty:

The kind of reader you are...

Deepa Mehta:

It depends on the books. But I want to read when I have time. And I read every night before I go to bed. Maybe about 10-15 pages or sometime, if a book is intriguing, I end up reading up till four in the morning because I cannot put it down. So the idea of ‘can’t put it down’ applies to me.

Saionee Chakraborty:

Films on your must-watch list...

Deepa Mehta:

There is a film that I really want to see … Roma by Alfonso Cuaron. It is supposed to be fantastic. I am really looking forward to seeing Nandita Das’s Manto. I have heard that it is great and I am fan of Nandita’s. 

Saionee Chakraborty:

Actors and actresses you find exciting...

Deepa Mehta:

I really like Huma Qureshi. She is very intriguing. I like Nawazuddin (Siddiqui). I think he is fantastic.

Saionee Chakraborty:

Your woman of the moment…

Interviewee:

The only woman I keep thinking of and have an image of is my mom (Vimla Mehta). She is amazing because she is progressive, tolerant and kind. Has a lot of humanity. Yeah, I am very proud of that.