Sooni Taraporevala was born in 1957 in Bombay, India. After studying at Queen Mary School in Bombay, she received a scholarship to attend Harvard University, where she studied English Literature, Film and Photography. She received her BA from Harvard in 1980 after which she enrolled in the Cinema Studies Department at New York University. At NYU she studied Film Theory and Criticism, received her MA in 1981, after which she returned to India to work as a freelance still photographer.
In 1986 she wrote her first screenplay, Salaam Bombay!, for director/producer Mira Nair. The film was nominated for an Oscar, won more than twenty-five awards worldwide, and earned Taraporevala the Lillian Gish Award from Women in Film in 1988.
Her second screenplay, Mississippi Masala, also for Mira Nair, was made into a film starring Denzel Washington for which Taraporevala won the Osella award for Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival, 1990.
Her other screenplay credits include the films Such a Long Journey, based on the novel by Rohinton Mistry and directed by Sturla Gunnarson, which earned Taraporevala a Genie nomination from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television; My Own Country, based on the book by Abraham Verghese and directed by Mira Nair for Showtime television; the film Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar directed by Dr Jabbar Patel for the Government of India and the National Film Development Corporation of India, and The Namesake, directed by Mira Nair, based on the book by Jhumpa Lahiri.
She wrote and directed her first feature film, Little Zizou, 2008 , which won the National Award from the Indian government for Best Film on Family Values, as well as ten international awards including the Audience Choice Award at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Time/Warner Best Screenplay and Best Director awards at the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council film festival in New York city.
In 2000 she authored and published a book of her photographs PARSIS: The Zoroastrians of India; A Photographic Journey. A labor of love for over 20 years, the book, a critical and popular success, was out of print within six months. A new edition was published in 2004. The last few copies continue to be available in 2014.
Photographs from Parsis were included in Tate Modern’s 2001 exhibition Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis, Lille 3000 in Lille 2006, India Moderna IVAM Institut Valencia d’Art Modern 2008, Photoquai, Musee de Quai Branly, 2009, and most recently, solo shows at Harvard University’s Sert Gallery in October 2012, Chemould Prescott Road in Mumbai 6 March-6 May 2013 and at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi September- November 2013 where they are part of NGMA's permanent collection.
On the occassion of Republic Day, 26 January 2014 it was announced that she had won a Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honor. It will be formally conferred on her by the President of India in Delhi in March 2014.
She lives in Mumbai with her husband Dr. Firdaus Bativala, and their two children, Jahan and Iyanah.
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