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The Stranger in the mirror by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra with Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta: book review

Autobiography of Oscar-nominated Director and interview session with the Author

Imagine watching all the movies directed by an amazingly talented director, yet not knowing even 1% of his life! That’s what happened when I sat down to read Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. Often times we tend to know about snippets of actor’s life from magazines and social media, but the directors or cameramen, or music producers remain behind a veil of mystery for us. From a mere idea and source of tiny inspiration to getting converted into a movie of 90mins is a journey of its own. As I delved into the autobiography of the National award-winning director I learned how it's important to fight and work on causes for the common good, or how important it is to be present at the moment and be a good observer. It is not just his achievements in the film industry, it's how everything got started. All the tiny sacrifices and adjustments his parents made the subconscious influence of Mughal-e-Azam in his childhood to facing “failures” even after pouring all of his heart out there and creating a masterpiece like Mirzya. In the author's interview session with Reeta, she shared how essential it is to be unbiased and not influencing her own opinions to the readers. Getting different narrations about one person from eminent artists like A.R.Rahman and Abhishek Bachchan to Farhan Akhtar added multiple dimensions to the book. One of the major takeaway from the book is that it's ok to slump and drop sometimes, those little pauses and setbacks and these incidents don’t define you. What matters is that how to come back once again and win the race.


The Stranger in the Mirror is the memoir of the legendary producer-director, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. Co-written by noted marketer-author, Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta, this book chronicles the richly experiential, multi-faceted life of one of India’s most celebrated and feted directors who has made critically acclaimed films like Rang De Basanti, Delhi-6, and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Though it may seem natural for an autobiography to have a primary narrator, what makes this book truly unique is its many narrators. It is this multi-dimensional, multi-character narration that will enable readers to delve deep and truly understand what it means to be as unselfish as Mehra, a man who gleefully steps back and lets the experts do their job.

Peppered with anecdotes from Mehra’s life—from the chai-biscuit college days to the popping of the proverbial champagne—it implores readers to pay attention to understand who is narrating, because the plot may have just shifted a little bit, just like his movies. At the end, what really stands out is how effortless the journey has actually been. And herein lies the greatest paradox because there is no lack of perseverance in this journey. The miraculous manner in which things fall into place naturally, like pieces of a pre-ordained puzzle with the universe acting as the ‘sutradhar’, is the fulcrum around which the joy of this remarkable journey is built.



Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra occupies a reverent mihrab of his own in the annals of Indian filmmaking. After working on almost 200 advertising films and a documentary, he found his calling on the big screen.

His cinema is honest, powerful and holds a mirror to society. His unsentimentally crafted portraits of conflicts inside our own culture, the demonic behaviour of humans possessed by communal hatred, the inherent imperfections that humanize super-achievers, have always been ahead of their time.

His brand of socially conscious, progressive filmmaking has its own signature. His work is archetypal, socio-political and philosophical, spawning genres such as sports biopics and youth-oriented cinema.

As a director, writer and producer, with a yen for timeless music, he established Flicks: The Motion Picture Company in 1987, which grew into Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures in the year 2004.

He is married to P.S. Bharathi. They have a daughter, Bhairavi, and a son, Vedant.

Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta hails from the marketing world and applies her vast knowledge of connecting with audiences to her writing. Her ability to bring pages alive with a lexical diversity that assimilates cultures and timelines and gripping parenthetical narratives has created a unique imprint in Indian writing in English. She is credited with the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Experiment, a decadal six-nation study on how ‘culture impacts communication.’ Her previous book, Rescript Your Life, was published by Rupa Publications. She is married and has two children.

This post is sponsored by Rupa Publications. (all the views are my personal and unbiased).
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