Open main menu

Zoya Akhtar (born 14 October 1972) is an Indian film director and screenwriter. After completing a diploma in filmmaking from NYU, she assisted directors such as Mira Nair, Tony Gerber and Dev Benegal, before turning writer-director in her own right.

Zoya Akhtar
Zoya at audio release of Talaash.jpg
Akhtar at the promotion of Talaash in 2012
Born (1972-10-14) 14 October 1972 (age 46)
OccupationDirector, screenwriter
Years active1999—present
RelativesSee Akhtar family

She has directed movies such as Luck by Chance (2009), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Sheila Ki Jawani, a segment of Bombay Talkies (2013). She has co-written Talaash (2012) alongside Reema Kagti. She then went on to direct Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), a film based on a dysfunctional Punjabi family.


Personal lifeEdit

Zoya Akhtar was born to poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar and screenwriter Honey Irani. Zoya's stepmother is Shabana Azmi. Her younger brother is actor and director Farhan Akhtar. She attended Maneckji Cooper and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Xavier's College, both in Mumbai. Later, she joined the New York University Film School to learn film production.

Her grandfather, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, a scholar of Islamic studies and theology, edited the first diwan of Mirza Ghalib on his request, and later became a figure during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 in his native Khairabad.[1]

She is great-granddaughter of renowned Urdu poet Muztar Khairabadi and granddaughter of Jan Nisar Akhtar.

Zoya grew up in an agnostic environment and along with her brother Farhan and father Javed Akhtar, she does not believe in any religion.[2][3]


Zoya started her career as co-director of a music video called Price of Bullets for a rock band called Pentagram. She has worked as a casting director for films including Dil Chahta Hai and Split Wide Open, and as an assistant director for her brother Farhan Akhtar's films Lakshya and Dil Chahta Hai. She then worked as an executive producer for her longtime partner Reema Kagti's Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., also produced by Excel Entertainment.[4]

Zoya with Reema Kagti

Zoya made her directorial debut with Luck By Chance (2009), starring her brother Farhan Akhtar and Konkana Sen Sharma. It tells the story of a struggling actor who breaks into the industry. The film was well received by critics, despite not doing well at the box office.[5][6]

In 2011, she directed Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a multistarrer with Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar, Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin.[7] It turned out to be a huge box office success and was well received by critics and won her the Filmfare Award for Best Director.

In 2013, Akhtar teamed up with Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar for Bombay Talkies. It was made as a celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema.[8][9]

She then went on to direct Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), a film based on a dysfunctional Punjabi family starring Anil Kapoor as an egotistical industrialist, Shefali Shah as his bitter socialite wife, and Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh as their children. The film also featured Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar as love interests for Singh and Chopra respectively.[10][11]

After Dil Dhadakne Do, Zoya Akhtar's next directorial venture is titled Gully Boy and will star Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.[12] Gully Boy movie is loosely based on the lives of Mumbai rappers Divine and Naezy[13]. Apart from Gully Boy, she, along with Reema Kagti are working on a story for Amazon Prime web series. It is titled Made in Heaven and is about two wedding planners, and will be produced by Excel Entertainment.[14][15]



Year Film Note(s)
2009 Luck By Chance Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director (shared with Ayan Mukerji)
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Filmfare Award for Best Director[16]
IIFA Award for Best Director
Zee Cine Award for Best Director
Apsara Award for Best Director
2013 Bombay Talkies Segment: Sheila Ki Jawaani
2015 Dil Dhadakne Do
2018 Lust Stories (Sudha)
2019 Gully Boy[17]

Screenplay writerEdit

Year Film Note(s)
2009 Luck By Chance
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
2012 Talaash

Story writerEdit

Year Film Note(s)
2009 Luck By Chance
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
2012 Talaash
2015 Dil Dhadakne Do

Assistant directorEdit

Year Film Note(s)
1998 Bombay Boys
2001 Dil Chahta Hai
2004 Lakshya

Executive producerEdit

Year Film Note(s)
2007 Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.
2009 Luck By Chance


Other appearancesEdit

She appeared on the Valentine's Day charity show of Kaun Banega Crorepati along with her brother Farhan Akhtar.[18] She also appeared in a very brief role as Rasa Devi's Rekha's Courtesan in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.[19]


  1. ^ Jan Nisar Akhtar Biography The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (D -J). by Amaresh Datta. Sahitya Akademi, 2006. ISBN 81-260-1194-7. p. 1796-97.
  2. ^ "10 Self-Proclaimed Celebrity Atheists | Entertainment | | Page 4". Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Celebs who are atheist". Times of India. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Zoya Akhtar". Excel Entertainment.
  5. ^ "Zoya Akhtar". Outlook. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  6. ^ Adarsh, Taran. "Box office Top 5". Bollywood hungama. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara: Cast and Crew details". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  8. ^ "Bollywood directors join hands to pay homage to Indian cinema. She teamed up again with the same directorial squad, consisting of Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar to a direct Lust Stories, a Netflix Original Indian anthology film, consisting of four short film segments". The Times of India. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  9. ^ Dubey, Bharati (25 January 2012). "Film industry to mark Phalke centenary". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  10. ^ "'Dil Dhadakne Do' - Movie Review" (Mid– Mid Day. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Zoya Akhtar's film is about a dysfunctional Punjabi family". Times of India. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Ranveer Singh to turn composer for Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boyz". Deccan Chronicle. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Ranveer Singh Met Underground Rappers- Ranveer Singh Gully Boy Movie". Desi Hip Hop. 2017-12-20. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  14. ^ NAIRITA MUKHERJEE (18 Jun 2017). "After Inside Edge, is Zoya Akhtar's show next on Amazon Prime?". Retrieved 17 Jul 2017.
  15. ^ "Farhan Akhtar might have a cameo in Zoya Akhtar's next". 15 Dec 2016. Retrieved 18 Jul 2017.
  16. ^ Zoya Announced as Best Director for ZNMD 2012
  17. ^ "Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt pair up for Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy".
  18. ^ "Discuss: A Shah Rukh Valentine". Rediff. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  19. ^ "Discuss: Zoya Akhtar's IMDB Profile".

External linksEdit