Deepa Mehta on Fear, Communication and Life Lessons

On Thursday, May 9th, 10 of Canada’s most influential individuals graced the stage of the iconic Winter Garden Theatre for the Top Ten Event, hosted by Stewart Knight and in support of autism Ontario. Here’s what award-winning film director and screenwriter Deepa Mehta had to share in a Q&A with Knight…

Genie award-winning film director and screenwriter, Deepa Mehta (of the acclaimed film Water) opted for a Q&A with host Knight instead of a speech. She opened by saying that she sees fear everywhere and that it is plaguing people, preventing them from moving forward.

On Fear:
“People are afraid of what’s unfamiliar,” says Mehta. “It equals awkward and insecure and feels like we are on quick sand because it makes us think we can’t communicate properly.” She says that communication, her field, “has so much to do with autism,” which Mehta calls a “mysterious and different type of thing.” Even so, she says we “deal with autism and fear of different differently.”

On Communication:
“It’s changing. It always has changed,” says Mehta when asked whether we are communicating well. “I love listening,” she continues, “whether on the bus, subway or walking on the sidewalk.” She acknowledges that, now that everyone is so connected, people don’t seem to be communicating as much or as effectively. “I miss that someone isn’t always listening to me,” she says. “Then again, maybe that’s not a bad thing.”

On Life Lesson
“My father was a film distributor, and I was met with dead silence when I told him how I wanted to follow his footsteps,” says Mehta. “He said, I want to tell you something: there are two things in life you never know about, one being when you are going to die, and another being how well a movie is going to do.” 

On Films Made in India
“Film makes another culture very accessible and has the power to expose different cultural practices and forms of communication,” says Mehta. “What makes people laugh in Japan may not make people in India laugh.” 

On What We Need to Start Saying to People
“Instead of  ‘I love you’, we should start by simply saying ‘hi’,” says Mehta.