Hansal Mehta is an Indian director, producer, and writer. He won the National Film Award for directing 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 from Rose Manor International School, Mumbai and then completed 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 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 married his first wife Sunita in the year 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, Shahid, Aligarh, and Scam 1992. Pallava is a special child suffering from Down syndrome.
Hansal met Safeena Husain (his second wife), who is 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 is 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.”
He returned to India in 1993 with the aspirations of becoming a director. Mr. Mehta’s love for food made him send a proposal to Zee TV for a cooking show titled “Khana Khazana.” According to him, his proposal was accepted on a condition that he has to find a pretty girl to host the show. In an interview, talking about his quest to find the host for his 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 milestone in the careers of both chef Sanjeev Kapoor and director Hansal Mehta. He also recalls a few oversights committed by them to make the show different. They once tried to make tandoori roti without a tandoor. He 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.”
Alongside Khana Khazana, Hansal was hired to edit a song for the famous Indian director Vishal Bhardwaj, who was then working as a composer.
He has also directed other television series like Amrita (1994), Highway (1995), Yaadein (1995), Lakshya (1998), and Neeti (1998). Jayate was inspired by the 1984 Bollywood film ‘Saaransh,’ but it never got released.
The bankable director went through a dark phase at the beginning of his career. In 2000, he directed “Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!!” starring Manoj Bajpayee and Tabu. The film was critically acclaimed for its dark humour even though it failed badly at the box office. While talking about this film, he said,
The failure of Dil Pe… took me to the point of self-destruction. Years of dejection and bankruptcy took its toll. My films couldn’t find a voice. I took to alcoholism. My relationships broke down. My parents supported me for years.”
During this period, he gave a series of washouts with movies like Chhal (2002), Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai? (2002), and Woodstock Villa (2008). He left his job as the COO at the White Feather Films Ltd, a production company founded by famous producer and filmmaker Sanjay Gupta. In a media interaction 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.”
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)
- 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, 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 has become an Islamist conversion centre. Hansal replied to this by calling Vivek a hatemonger and advising him to convert his religion into Islam. His reply met with severe flak by the Twitterati.
- Food: Idli
- Actor: Rajkummar Rao
- Film: 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 the blogs of his own food recipes. When he was sabbatical from his work, he focused on food blogging, which according to him, helped him to get his life back on track.
- He was a smoker, but he quit it in 2018 due to his deteriorating health. Twitter
- He was a hardworking student, but apparently, he was not good at studies. According to him, he has 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 B Tech, 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 director, Vishal Bhardwaj was rude to him when they first worked together; however, after getting impressed by his work, Vishal apologised to Hansal and they became good friends.