Hansal Mehta is an Indian director, producer, and writer. He won the National Film Award for directing the biographical drama film, Shahid in 2012.
Hansal Mehta was born on Monday, 29 April 1968 (age 53 years; as of 2021) in Mumbai. He did his schooling at Rose Manor International School, Mumbai, and then he pursued a Bachelor of Technology in Electronics at Dr. D. Y. Patil Institute of Technology in Pune.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Family & Caste
Hansal Mehta was born into a Gujarati middle-class family.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Deepak Subodh Mehta, and his mother’s name is Kishori Mehta. His mother passed away in January 2013. Hansal has one brother, Parad D Mehta, and his sister’s name is Sheetal Mehta Vyas.
Relationships, Wife & Children
Hansal got married to Sunita, his first wife, in 1989 when he was 21 years old, but the couple got separated after 11 years of marriage. Sunita died of cancer on 25 July 2015. He has two sons, Jai and Pallava, with his first wife. Jai is a filmmaker, and he has assisted his father in projects like City Lights (2014), Shahid (2012), Aligarh (2015), and Scam 1992 (2020). Pallava is a special child suffering from Down syndrome.
Hansal met Safeena Husain (his second wife), a well known social worker, in 2005. The couple has two girls, Kimaya and Rihanna. Both the girls were born out of wedlock. In an interview, when he was asked about why the couple was not married, he said,
After having children, I believe it’s silly to get married now. Marriage as an institution is redundant. Sabse oonchi prem sagai. We’re together because of love and not a certificate.”
In 1993, Hansal debuted as a director with Zee TV’s popular food show “Khana Khazana.” The producers of the show gave Hansal a task of finding a good looking female host for the show. While talking about his journey of finding the suitable host for the show, he said,
I went looking out for pretty chefs and landed at Hotel Centaur, where I didn’t find a pretty girl but discovered a tall chef called Sanjeev Kapoor. I decided to shoot with him without telling the channel. When they saw the episode, they freaked out and found it very boring without the pretty girl, with this man wearing a chef’s uniform. But they ran four episodes and kept extending it every four weeks, till he made a dish called Shaam Savera that became such a huge success that he became a household name.”
With famed director Hansal Mehta for dinner at home. Good food, good company 🍽 pic.twitter.com/4KBcz1iNz4
— Sanjeev Kapoor (@SanjeevKapoor) August 3, 2017
The show turned out to be a hit, becoming one of the most popular shows in the country and making chef Sanjeev Kapoor a household name. In an interview, while talking about some of the mistakes made by him and Sanjeev during the making of the show, Hansal said,
You stick rotis on the walls inside the pressure cooker and it works. We showed that and it was pretty successful but the pressure cooker company sent us a legal notice. They felt pressure cookers are not made for this and it could be explosive. Once we made softy without the ice cream maker. I remember trying it and telling Sanjeev that it was not working. He gave it to my limited understanding and I allowed it to go on air. All hell broke loose after the episode went on air. Women started writing that their in-laws have stopped talking to them. Someone said her husband was angry.”
Apart from Khana Khazana, he also directed other television series like Highway (1995), Yaadein (1995), Lakshya (1998), and Neeti (1998). He reused the plot of his episodic show Highway in the Bollywood film Dus Kahaaniyan (2007). Hansal debuted as a film director with the 1997 Bollywood film ‘Jayate,’ which was inspired by the 1984 Bollywood film ‘Saaransh,’ but Jayate never got released in theatres. The film was showcased as a part of the Indian Panorama during a film festival in Hyderabad (1999).
The successful director had a rough beginning. His 2000 film “Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!!” starring Manoj Bajpayee and Tabu failed miserably at the box office leading him to bankruptcy. He then made a series of flop films like Chhal (2002), Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai? (2002), and Woodstock Villa (2008). After the low response of the Woodstock Villa at the box office, Hansal took a three years long sabbatical from directing movies. He quit his job at White Feather Films Ltd, a production company founded by famous producer and filmmaker Sanjay Gupta. In an interview with The Times of India, he said,
I went off to a small village Malavali between Lonavala and Pune with my partner Safeena Hussain. At 10,000 to 15000 a month we could survive. I wanted to free the knots in my head. I cooked, I blogged. Through blogging my political thoughts also found a voice. That drew me to Shahid Azmi’s (slain Human Rights lawyer) story.”
After his sabbatical, Hansal directed the biographical drama film “Shahid” that earned him a National Film Award for best director. Shahid Azmi was a lawyer and human rights activist, famous for fighting the cases of those falsely accused of terrorism. He was assassinated in 2010. The film had a world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival in 2012. In an interview, after winning the national award, he said,
Shahid’s brothers watched the film. After the National Award celebration, his younger brother Khalid broke down. He said, ‘You made him a household name. Aapne Shahid ko dobara zinda kar diya’. Understandably, his mother didn’t watch it. She said, ‘I can’t watch my son dying again’.”
His 2015 film, Aligarh was highly praised and even received a standing ovation at the 20th Busan Film Festival and the 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. Mr. Mehta’s commercial success as a director came with the 2020 web series Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story. It was released on Sony’s OTT platform and became one of the highest-rated Indian web series ever. The series described the life of infamous stockbroker Harshad Mehta, who was accused of committing India’s biggest financial scam.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Winner (2014): 1st KA Abbas Honor for Film with Outstanding Social Sensitivity in 2013 for Shahid (2012)
- Winner (2012): India Gold Silver Gateway for Shahid (2012)
- Winner (2014): Golden Lotus Award for Best Direction for Shahid (2012)
- Winner (2013): New York Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival Award for Best Director Shahid (2012)
- Winner (2014): Zee Anmol Award Shahid (2012)
- Winner (2013): National Film Award for Best Direction Shahid (2012)
- In 2017, Hansal worked with the Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut in the film ‘Simran.’ The film is about a girl who loses her savings due to her gambling addiction. This film tanked at the box office, resulting in a fallout between Kangana and Hansal. It was rumoured that Kangana undermined him on the sets, and she also called him a spineless coward. In a media interaction, while talking about his experience of making the film, he said,
“I’ll be honest with you, I enjoyed Kangana’s company outside the set and I had a great time with her. (But on the sets) It went out of my control completely. That’s not a happy situation to be in. Other than dealing with the fact that she (Kangana) completely took charge of the set and began directing other actors, I lost a lot of money too.” Hindustan Times
- In January 2020, Indian filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri tweeted that the protests at Shaheen Bagh against CAA had become an Islamist conversion centre. Hansal replied to this by calling Vivek a hatemonger and advising him to convert his religion into Islam. Hansal’s reply met with severe flak by the Twitterati.
- Food: Idli
- Actor: Rajkummar Rao
- Film(s): AndhaDhun, Stree, Star Is Born
He bought a Mercedes-Benz E-Class in 2021.
- Hansal is a big foodie and also loves to cook food. His website is filled with blogs of his own food recipes. When he was on a sabbatical from his directorial work, he focused on food blogging that, according to him, helped him to get his life back on track.
- He was a hardworking student, but apparently, he was not good at studies. According to him, he had examinophobia (phobia of examinations). In an interview, talking about his fear of failure, he said,
Examination brings a lot of anxiety to me. I don’t like to be judged in two hours. Rejection really scares me and it’s always been like that.”
- After completing his BTech, Hansal went to Australia to work in a company called South Pacific Recordings. The company used to edit and sell pirated films. While working at this company, Hansal learned to edit videos and work with cameras.
- According to Hansal, the famous Indian film director Vishal Bhardwaj was rude to him when they first worked together; however, after getting impressed by Hansal’s work, Vishal apologised to Hansal, and they became good friends.