Pioneering Director Deepa Mehta Reflects on Her Immigrant Experience: ‘Where Did You Learn Such Good English?

Toronto-based filmmaker Deepa Mehta has been making films since the 1970s, including the Oscar-nominated “Water,” part of her elements trilogy; “Bollywood/Hollywood” and “Funny Boy.” Her TV credits include “Yellowjackets,” “Little America” and “Leila.”As an immigrant to Canada from India, I felt “seen” twice in my life.

And both those moments, ironically, were diametrically antithetical to each other.It was my first foray into North America as a young newlywed documentary filmmaker.

I missed my home and family, had no work, couldn’t get the fuss about ice hockey and was frankly surprised at the general questions thrown my way by well-meaning, educated young and old white folk.

One lot expressed wonderment at my grasp of the English language.

“Where did you learn such good English?” My answer usually was, “on the flight from Delhi to Toronto.” While the other lot expressed complete pity that I came from such an impoverished country,

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