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My films keep going back to my growing up years


The happiness on his face was hard to miss when filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra — stuck in a virtual world when his autobiography and film opened to a digital release beneath the pandemic’s shadow earlier this year — met author Kiran Manral in the real world for a tete-a-tete at this year’s Times Litfest on Saturday. “It feels really good to be among everyone!” said Mehra as he went on to talk about his memoir Stranger In the Mirror, a book about exposing his vulnerabilities, navigating successes and flops and watching his life come back a full circle through his films.

“My films kept going back and forth to my growing up years. I never planned it. It just came together organically. My parental home was in old Delhi where I was born and grew up and so Delhi 6. My closeness to sports and the National Stadium while growing up listening to horror stories of the Partition led me to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,” he said.

When asked if there were things that he had consciously kept out of the book that he co-wrote with author Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta, Mehra deadpanned. “Not really. That’s not how I make my films, so how could I do that in my book? It would be double standards.”

Known to use mirrors during seminal moments in all his films as a metaphor for conscience, Mehra explained how it inspired the title of his book. “I have conversations with myself in the mirror every morning. And I see a different person each time. It’s a great reminder but it’s also confusing because I don’t know who the stranger is — the person in the mirror or the one standing in front of it,” he said, promising to solve the conundrum next time.



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