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|July 3, 2001||
Deepa Mehta -- an outstanding Canadian
Controversial film director Deepa Mehta is among 50 outstanding Canadians recognised by Maclean's, the country's prestigious 150-year old weekly magazine, and the counterpart of Time and Newsweek.
Other South Asian similarly recognized is international acclaimed fiction writer Michael Ondaatje, whose novel The English Patient made him "a literary star," as the Canadian magazine says.
Mehta started her career by writing scripts for children's films. Her first film was Sam & Me. After listing all her films, Mclean's argues that despite the fact that since the age of 23 she has lived in Toronto without relocating to Hollywood, "the kind of international acclaim" that she has earned "most film-makers only dream about."
She started getting recognition after she planned to produce trilogy starting with Fire (1996) that took time before the Indian censors, with a great deal of difficulty and personal intervention of Shabana Azmi, star of the film, approved it for showing in India as the film claimed there was lesbianism in India also as elsewhere; 1947 - Earth (1998) but the third film Water was not allowed by the opponents to be filmed in Benares.
She returned to Toronto dejected but with tons of international support and publicity and determined that the film will finally be produced.
Ajay Virmani, Toronto-based businessman and producer of Water once told India Abroad that he lost over $ 1 million for what happened in Benares but he, too, insisted that the film would be produced even though the location will be different than originally planned.
"For Mehta, her work supports deeply help beliefs that the Far East can no longer be viewed merely as exotic -- and instead must be taken seriously on its own terms.
"At once an outsider and an insider, she is in a unique position to do just that," argues the weekly.
Ondaatje's English Patient not only "captured a (Canadian) Governor General's Award and Britain's Booker Prize, but in 1996, was made into a film that won nine Academy Awards."
So, for Ondaatje "there's no looking back," states Maclean's.
Michael Ondaatje's elder brother, Christopher Onbdaatje (not included in Maclean's) is successful himself. He is a businessman, is an art collector and also writes travel books.
A few years ago, he relocated to England and earned the Order of British Empire after first getting the Order of Canada, the highest civilian award in the country.
He recently made front page news in the British press when he donated two million pounds to Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-election campaign.
Christopher Ondaatje earlier donated $ 1 million to the South Asian gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum.
The Ondaatjes are originally from Sri Lanka.
Amongst 50 outstanding Canadians recognised by Maclean's are, film director Norman Jewison, well known scientist Tak Mak and Canada's Governor-General Adrienna Clarkson.
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