Immense hard work and dedication despite tragic backstory . The Incredible tale of Indian woman with two Oscars, the rarest of the rare feats.
“I’ve lived a life of borrowed dreams. I grew up in Delhi, in a Punjabi middle class family. To the world we were happy–but no one knew what happened behind closed doors. My family was allotted 1 room in a big house. Because of the fight between brothers over property- my mom was suppressed. They abused her… Once, the argument got to a point where they tried to burn her alive-my father called the police, grabbed us & ran out of there.
We built our life anew. Eventually, my mom started dreaming of having a 3 bedroom house on a ground floor with 3 steps by the entrance- So specific! I became determined to buy 1 for her. At 16 I started working while balancing schoolwork–I sold cheese on streets, was an announcer at PVR, a DJ, an anchor…you name it! In college, I began coming to Mumbai to work in films. I went from a coordinator, to being a production manager. Whatever I’d earn, I’d give it to my parents for our dream!
Slowly we pooled our savings & booked a house. But by the time it was ready, I lost my parents within 6 months of each other. My mom had throat cancer & my dad’s kidneys failed… I was heartbroken.
Needing a change, I packed my bags, sold the house & moved to Bombay for work. I channeled my energy into films. My dreams then became my director’s dreams. I was always on my feet & barely slept 4 hrs a day.
Each film was a challenge. Crowd-funding, international sales- but I loved it! I wanted to hear my mom’s ‘you did well’ or my dad’s ‘proud of you’. I still remember my father had sold his gold kadaa to send me on my 1st school trip to USA- he wanted me to see the world, no matter how challenging it was for them.
So in my happiest times- whether it was at the Oscars or when we produced Gangs of Wasseypur & The Lunchbox.. Or when I launched my production house… all I wanted was my parents beside me.
But I know they’re at peace where they are. Someday I’ll see them again & get my ‘well dones.’ But for now, I’m going through life, collecting happy moments for them. I hope they can be proud that I’ve finally stopped borrowing dreams. I’m my own person now & maybe that in itself is a dream come true! “
Pichhala Steps: Oscar 2023
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