Anil Mehta is an Indian cinematographer, writer, producer, and director who is known for his cinematography in Bollywood films like Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Lagaan, Veer Zaara, Rockstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. He is one of the founding members of the Indian Society of Cinematographers, established in 1995.
Anil Mehta was born on 9 February. His zodiac sign is Capricorn. He was born in a very middle-class background. He has lived in various cities i.e. Calcutta, Hyderabad, Gwalior, and Delhi. According to Anil Mehta, the American film The Sound of Music (1965) had a huge impact on him following which he decided to pursue a career in the film industry. Film Companion Anil got enrolled in the Film and Television Institute of India and graduated from there in 1986. He came to Bombay after that and worked in advertisements. Scroll.in Later, he worked as a cinematographer for many popular Bollywood films and became one of the most renowned cinematographers in India.
When he moved to Bombay, he worked under Chandita Mukherjee and he found his initial years quite challenging. He struggled for 5-6 years and in 1994, he was offered a short film The Cloud Door by Mani Kaul. In 1996, he got his first big break, when he received a call from Sanjay Leela Bhansali to work on Khamoshi: The Musical movie starring Salman Khan. In an interview, he said about this movie,
“I had just about gotten comfortable when Sanjay approached me for Khamoshi. He left the script with me and said he had found himself a financier, that he was going to make this film. ‘See if you want to do it,’ he told me. The very next day I called him up and decided to do it.” Rediff.com
After that, he worked on the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, starring Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Ajay Devgn, and directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, which earned him praise from both critics and audiences, and he also won many awards for the film. In 2001, he worked on the superhit movie Lagaan starring Aamir Khan and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. He said about this movie in an interview,
“I met Ashutosh [Gowariker] and Aamir [Khan] long before Hum Dil was released. I think we were still in post-production when Aamir asked me to read the script and speak to Ashu. With Aamir, I got a sense of how he wanted to shoot the film. It was clear that this would be strikingly different from the kind of films being made at the time. Also, with Aamir as a producer, I could sense a commitment to the film. Back then things were not as professional as they are now, but Aamir knew what he was talking about, and that gives you confidence.” Rediff.com
In 2003, he worked on Kal Ho Naa Ho, and in 2004, he worked on the movie Veer-Zaara, directed by legendary director Yash Chopra and written by Yash’s son Aditya Chopra. Both movies featured Shahrukh Khan in lead roles and while talking about Veer-Zaara in an interview, he said,
“The incredible thing about working on Veer-Zaara was the way Adi and Yash-ji worked together. The fact is that Adi wrote the screenplay and Adi once, in one conversation, I remember telling me that how when he was writing, he was trying to think through Yash Chopra’s mind.” DesiMartini
In 2012, he worked on the movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan starring Shahrukh Khan. In 2014, he worked on the movie Highway starring Alia Bhatt and directed by Imtiaz Ali. While defining his approach for the movie Highway, he said,
In 2015, he worked on the movie Badlapur starring Varun Dhawan. In 2016, he worked on the movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Anushka Sharma which was directed by Karan Johar.
In 2017, he worked on the movie Secret Superstar starring Aamir Khan. In 2019, he worked on the movie Angrezi Medium starring deceased actor Irrfan Khan.
Writer and Director
In 2002, he wrote the movie Agni Varsha starring Amitabh Bachchan and Jackie Shroff in lead roles. In 2007, he directed the movie Aaja Nachle which was also the comeback movie of popular actress Madhuri Dixit Nene. While talking about directing a movie, he said,
“It has been very exhausting. We are at the finishing stages. It’s been quite tiring. The first print just came out. The entire schedule was quite packed. It was not as if I was gunning to be a director. It was Adi’s (Aditya Chopra) idea. He has written the story. It all started as a casual chat while shooting Veer Zaara. The script appealed to me. After this I may or may not direct again.” Bolly Spice
In 2015, he was among the signatories who wrote a letter to the President of India for removing the Film and Television Institute of India’s (FTII) Chairperson Gajendra Chauhan from its governing council; they demanded to remove the chairperson with immediate effect, and they also wanted that the FTII should be declared a Center of Excellence and an autonomous institution. The Citizen
- For the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, he won the National Film Award for Best Cinematography and the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Award for Best Cinematography in 2000.
- For the movie Lagaan, he won the Screen Award for Best Cinematography in 2002.
- For the movie Kal Ho Naa Ho, he won the Guild Award for Best Cinematography and Bollywood Movie Award – Best Cinematography in 2004.
- He studied the work of Subrata Mitra, an Indian cinematographer who worked with V K Murthy and oscar-winning director Satyajit Ray while Mehta was studying cinematography at the Film and Television Institute of India. In an interview, he said that although the style of work of Satyajit Ray and V K Murthy was almost opposite to each other, he took inspiration from both. Film Companion
- Ace cinematographer Piyush Puty considers Anil’s film Lagaan as one of the inspirations for technical aspects of filmmaking. Piyush also worked with Anil as part of the crew of the movie Wake Up Sid. Life And More web portal
- In an interview, Anil Mehta talked about the attributes of a good cinematographer and said that patience and the skill of active listening is the key. He said,
To be able to listen before he can see. In the sense to be able to absorb what is being said, done, or performed. All these have to be absorbed before you translate it. I would say the quality is to be patient, to listen in, and to try and translate that into some kind of visual design.” The Hindu
- In 1995, he found The Indian Society of Cinematographers along with several other reputed cinematographers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Since he is a member of society, his name shows with the suffix ISC in movie credits.