ReFocus: The Films of Zoya Akhtar

deadline for submissions: 
February 10, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Aakshi Magazine


Call for papers: ReFocus: The Films of Zoya Akhtar

Edinburgh University Press

Contact Email:

Deadline: February 10, 2019


Zoya Akhtar is one of the very few female writer-directors working in the Hindi film industry. Along with her contemporaries Farah Khan, Meghna Gulzar among others, she is among the few who work within the big budget Bollywood film format. While the reception of her two latest films has made her a commercially successful director, her films stand out for their complex representation of relationships, a non-judgemental, progressive worldview, and her reinterpretation of many of the tropes of the typical Bollywood film.


While some critics contend that Akhtar’s big budget films reflect the many limitations of the Bollywood film form, her work refuses to be defined by one particular style.  From her award winning directorial debut Luck by Chance (2009) about two young actors navigating the Bollywood industry, to the boys’ road trip blockbuster Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and the family drama Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), Akhtar’s varied work across the industry indicates a much more important range.  Further, the success of the latter two films has challenged the popular view that films made by female directors don’t make money at the Indian box office.  Her mark on the Hindi film industry extends beyond the feature; her short films appear amongst those of other celebrated directors in the omnibus productions Bombay Talkies (2013) and Lust Stories (2018) and she has worked as a script writer and lyricist on films like Talaash (2012) and Bride and Prejudice (2004) respectively.


Akhtar’s career represents a fascinating case study of the gender dynamics in the Hindi film industry, the possibilities and limitations of the changing form of popular Hindi cinema, as well as the pressures of the box office on film-makers. Her film family background adds another layer, making her career reflective of many of the contradictions and peculiarities of the Hindi film industry. Keeping this context in mind, we are seeking chapters for an anthology on the films of Zoya Akhtar. Exploring her contributions across multiple facets of Hindi cinema, we invite submissions on any aspect of Akhtar’s films, her industrial context and position in the field. We are especially interested in chapters on the following:


  • Formal analysis of short films vis-à-vis Bollywood films;
  • Akhtar’s work as an assistant director, script writer, lyricist;
  • Possible influence of the box office on her film themes and styles;
  • Formal analysis of any of her films;
  • A woman directing a boys’ road movie in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara;
  • Analysis of popular film criticism of her films;
  • Song sequences;
  • Film family context;
  • Collaborations with Farhan Akhtar, Javed Akhtar, and/or Reema Kagti;
  • Comparison with her mother Honey Irani’s work as script writer and director;
  • Representation of women in her films;
  • Representation of men in her films;
  • Your suggested topic


We are proposing The Films of Zoya Akhtar to be one of the first scholarly editions on an Indian woman in the Hindi film industry to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press in the ReFocus series on international directors. Series editors are Robert Singer, Gary D. Rhodes and Stefanie Van de Peer. We have already had a positive response on the project from the editors.


Please send your 500-750 word proposal and CV to the editors of the volume, Aakshi Magazine and Amber Shields, latest by February 10, 2019. We welcome initial email enquiries to discuss possible proposals, especially those not listed above.


Final submissions will be between 6,000 and 8,000 words, in English, and referenced in Chicago endnote style.  We are anticipating an Autumn 2019 submission date.


Any questions can be sent to: 

Aakshi Magazine and Amber Shields

Email address: