Meghna Gulzar knows the fine art of patience and persistence. With her first two films box office failures, the daughter of renowned writer, director and poet Gulzar and acclaimed actress Raakhee would take eight years to return to the director's chair. "I spent half of the eight years post my second film (Just Married) raising my son and the other half struggling to get a project green lit," she says. "My father and Vishal [Bhardwaj] were wondering how much longer my break was going to go on?" Bhardwaj handed her a script of Talvar. Starring Irrfan Khan and Konkana Sen Sharma, the film was inspired by the botched police investigation of the Arushi-Hemraj murder case and the media trial that subsequently followed.
Since Talvar, Meghna hasn't looked back. Last year's Raazi, starring Alia Bhatt as an Indian spy who marries into an influential Pakistani family and risks her life to help India during the 1971 war, became one of the biggest female-led hits after Tanu Weds Manu Returns, earning Rs 122 crore at the domestic box office. Meghna and Bhavani Iyer's adaptation of Harinder Sikka's book Calling Sehmat also drew praise for bringing down jingoism to present a poignant portrait of casualties of war.
Meghna has already found another powerful shero for her next. Inspired by the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, Chhapaak stars Deepika Padukone, who is also co-producing the film. It also sees Meghna collaborate with screenwriter Atika Chohan. Post its release in January 2020, Meghna will jump on to what looks to be her biggest project, a biopic on Sam Manekshaw, with Vicky Kaushal playing India's first Air Chief Marshal. The scope for another hiatus is unlikely.