Ketan Mehta

Born in Navsari in Gujarat, Ketan Mehta was educated in New Delhi and later graduated from the FTII, Pune. He associated with theatre groups like Dishantar, New Delhi and Indian National Theaters, Mumbai both as an actor and director. His first feature film Bhavni Bhavai was an adaptation of folk theatre. Thereafter, he concentrated on adapting popular art forms for his films. Opposed to the earlier notions of self-conscious art cinema, he believes in the creative potential of popular cultures. Later films include Maya Memsab and Sardar, an autobiographical film on the life of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Notable Films:

Bhavni Bhavai - 1980 - Gujarati
(A Folk Tale)

Ketan Mehta's debut film is a successful adaptation of folk idioms into cinema. The film is dedicated to Brecht, Goscinny and to the inventor of the Bhavai, Asait Thakore, who was a Brahmin outcast and lived among the lower caste communities. His descendents, the Targalas, are the traditional Gujarati performers of the plays he wrote. The Bhavi evolved into one of India's most energetic folk music and dance-dramas. The film is in the form of a story told by a group of Harijans migrating to a city pausing for a night. Documentary footages of India's freedom struggle as well as references to contemporary violent caste riots in Ahmedabad and severe drought in North Gujarat is employed in the film.

Direction & Screenplay: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Mohan Gokhale, Om Puri, Dina Pathak, Suhasini Mulay
Cinematography: Pammy
Music: Gaurang Vyas

Mirch Masala - 1985 - Hindi

A despotic tax collector, Subedar imposes his rule on a village. All the villagers except a protesting schoolteacher, try to make him happy by satisfying all his whims. The drama starts when the beautiful Sonbai is to be surrendered to the lecherous Subedar. She takes refuge in the courtyard of a spice factory run entirely by women. She is protected by an aged watchman who closes the gates to Subedar's men.

Direction: Ketan Mehta
Screenplay: Hriday Lani, Tripurari Sharma
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Om Puri, Suresh Oberoi, Deepti Naval, Mohan Gokhale
Cinematography: Jehangir Choudhury
Music: Rajat Dholakia

Maya Memsaab - 1992 - Hindi
(The Enchanting Illusion)

The story is narrated in flashback as a reconstruction of the life of Maya, the beautiful wife of a country doctor. She leads a glamorous life with a series of love affairs while becoming indebted to Lalaji. The film ends tragically when her house is auctioned and she appears to be engulfed by her fantasy life.

Direction & Screenplay: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Deepa Sahi, Faroque Sheikh, Shah Rukh Khan, Raj Babbar, Shreeram Lagoo, Om Puri
Cinematography: Anup Jotwani
Music: Hridayanath Mangeshkar


  • Bhavni Bhavai (1980)
  • Holi (1983)
  • Mirch Masala (1985)
  • Hero Hiralal (1988)
  • Maya Memsaab (1992)
  • Sardar (1993)
  • Oh Darling Yeh Hai India (1995)

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