Indian-born photojournalist marks a successful career in Canada

January 20, 2017

By Renu Mehta, Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

He came to Canada in the late 70s and never looked back. Not a doctor or engineer or Chartered Accountant from India who required credentials recognition, Dilip Mehta did not have to rely on a survival job. He was a photojournalist who settled down very quickly in his adopted country and began his career taking images.

“I have never had a problem in Canada. I made a choice to live in Toronto near Casa Loma and was not ghettoised. There was no discrimination in my profession,” says Mehta who was hell bent upon going to University South of the border but instead landed up working in a design house in Toronto.

“I was very fortunate to get a job in a design house in Toronto called In the Sunrise,” he says. “The Canadian owners were brilliant graphic designers and said why don’t you get experience learning rather than studying.”

Soon after, not wanting to be confined within a studio space, Mehta, slung his camera on his shoulder and began to journey across Canada.

“I really enjoyed the experience and arrogantly began to dress like a photographer from Vietnam or Cambodia while learning the art. But later when I began to process the images I took, I found them to be so atrocious,” admitted Mehta brazenly.

The challenge to develop his skills and art took him next to the deserts of Rajasthan where he began to develop a strong body of work and photographs. Back home in Toronto, several assignments were offered based on his images.

“I was asked to take photographs of the fountains in the city and the restaurants of Toronto,” says Mehta who loved the assignments he got.

He soon joined Contact Press Images, later winning international acclaim for coverage on Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the 1984 Bhopal tragedy.

From a photojournalist who got his first cover on Time magazine at the age of 19, to cutting his teeth with all the majors in the world, this Canadian has indeed come a long way. Dilip Mehta, who travels and works in Canada and India is now out with his latest venture – Mostly Sunny, a controversial documentary on porn queen Sunny Leone.

Over the years, the director and story teller has communicated through various mediums like photography, features and documentaries and his accomplishments can be seen through his work beginning with his directorial film debut The Forgotten Woman, Cooking with Stella and now Mostly Sunny. With such a diverse span of work, what has been this film maker’s own voyage?

“It was tremendous being a photojournalist having worked with The New York Times, Newsweek and National Geographic,” says Dilip Mehta. “It was when I was shooting about global warming in Maldives that it came to my mind that I had completed my journey. That it was time to move despite a very successful career. It was a premonition, no planned decision.”

Soon after, inspired by his work on the sets of Deepa Mehta’s Water, The Forgotten Women, came his way in 2008.

“This documentary is a compelling film about the plight of widows in India and fed my habit of journalism,” explains Mehta

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