Ashok Mehta

Ashok Mehta
Born 1947
Punjab, India
Died August 15, 2012(2012-08-15) (age 64)
Mumbai, India
Occupation cinematographer, director of photography
Years active 1978-2011

Ashok Mehta (1947- August 15, 2012) was a noted national film award winning Indian film cinematographer, known for films such as Bandit Queen (1994), 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981) and Utsav (1984).[1] He won the National Film Award for Best Cinematography twice, 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981) and Moksha (2000), the latter he also directed.

He worked both with directors of mainstream Bollywood, like Subhash Ghai (Ram Lakhan (1989), Saudagar (1991)) and Rajiv Rai (Gupt (1997)), Mukul Anand (Trimurti (1995)), as well as parallel cinema directors, like Shyam Benegal (Trikaal (1985), Mandi (1983)), Aparna Sen (36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), Paroma (1984)). He also worked on films, including Shekhar Kapoor's Bandit Queen (1994), Girish Karnad's Utsav (1984), Gulzar's Ijaazat (1987) and MF Hussain's Gaja Gamini (2000).[2]

Early in 2012, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. While he was getting treated for Lung cancer, he was diagnosed with brain tumor. Despite the surgery and cancer, he never stopped working as movies and cinematography was his passion and first love. He succumbed to cancer in Mumbai on 15 August 2012, at the age of 65.[1]

Ashok Mehta's journey is a rags to riches story. He ran away from home at the age of 14 and came to Mumbai. With no money, no acquaintance and no shelter he had nowhere to go and to survive he started selling stuff like boiled eggs, fruits etc. His Journey in the Bollywood started as a canteen boy, office boy and then a camera attendant. After a decade-long struggle in the Indian film industry, he finally became the DOP. He got his first break as a cinematographer at the age of 25 in Raj Marbros' The Witness. He credits his actual career boost to the reigning star of the 1970s, Shashi Kapoor. Kapoor, who was starring in a film being shot by Mehta, was greatly impressed by his work and even though the film did not get made eventually, it won Mehta the favor of Kapoor, who offered him his next production, 36 Chowringhee Lane. The next step for Mehta was to establish himself in mainstream cinema and this opportunity came through actress Rakhee. It was during the filming of Paroma that Rakhee got acquainted with Mehta and his work, but it was years later when Subhash Ghai, leading director of the popular film scene, was on the lookout for a cameraman for his mega-project Ram Lakhan, that she suggested the name of Mehta. Ashok Mehta then stepped onto the popular film scene and with the collaboration of Ghai, brought to popular cinema an altogether different style of lighting and shot taking. He is lovingly known as the ''guiding light"in Bollywood.



Moksha, also known as Moksha: Salvation, is a 2001 release. Ashok Mehta launched Arjun Rampal in Bollywood with this movie.

The story is about law graduate Vikram Saigal (Arjun Rampal) who is not happy with his lot at all. He is very idealistic and wants to battle corruption and society and change the world.

A young girl, Ritika (Manisha Koirala) takes a fancy to him and goes all out to woo him, at first he rejects her advances and eventually he gives in after she presents him with an expensive painting and they become a couple.

His idealism includes him wanting to set up a "free for the poor" law service, but he finds it impossible to find any other like-minded lawyers. His boss and his father (Suresh Oberoi) think he's too young and naïve to fully understand the implications of giving free legal services and he becomes more and more disillusioned and plans how to rob a bank to get money to set up his free legal institute.

Together with Ritika he hatches a plot to rob a bank. But soon after, Ritika develops cold feet and dissuades Vikram from carrying out the robbery. On the day of the bank robbery, a lady informs the bank authorities about the burglary and the officials get on a high alert.

Thereafter, Ritika is found dead and all fingers point towards Vikram. A courtroom battle ensues. Vikram successfully defends himself by fighting his own case. After the verdict Ritika's best friend tells him that it was she not Ritika who had informed the bank authority of the plan of robbery. Drenched in guilt Vikram tries to kill himself but can't seem to do that as well. So he decides to rob the bank again, this time with an empty pistol. He goes to the bank on a seemingly suicide mission, robs the bank and gets shot fatally while coming out.


Personal life

Ashok Mehta lived with his wife Neerja Mehta and his son Ved Mehta



  1. 1 2 "Ace cinematographer Ashok Mehta passes away,". Zee News. August 15, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  2. "Cinematographer Ashok Mehta passes away". The Times of India. August 15, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  3. "29th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals.
  4. "48th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals.
  5. List of Filmfare Award Winners and Nominations, 1953-2005

External links

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