Cast & Crew
Don McKellar has had a truly varied career as an actor, a film and theatre director, and screenwriter and playwright. Recently he acted in Blindness, and also adapted Jose Saramago‘s Nobel Prize-winning novel of the same title, for director Fernando Mereilles. He and Bob Martin wrote the book for the hit Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone, for which they won a 2006 Tony Award. He has directed two feature films: Last Night and Childstar, both of which he wrote and acted in. He was the screenwriter of Roadkill and Highway 61, and the co-writer of Dance Me Outside, all directed by Bruce McDonald. He co-wrote and acted in Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould and The Red Violin, director François Girard. Other film and TV roles include Where the Truth Lies, director Atom Egoyan, and Existenz, director David Cronenberg, and the wonderfully funny television series Slings and Arrows.
Seema Biswas is one of India's most versatile actors. Her work encompasses Bollywood blockbusters as well as award-winning roles in serious films: most notably as the astonishingly radiant Shakuntula in Deepa Mehta's Water, and the riveting Phoolan Devi in Bandit Queen, director Shekhar Kapoor. Both of these movies were international successes and both were surrounded by controversy. Seema won the 2007 Best Actress Genie Award for her role in Water, and numerous international prizes for her role in Bandit Queen. She is an acclaimed theatre actor, and has won two awards for her contribution to Indian theatre. She speaks five languages, and has also appeared in Tamil movies, refusing, in her words, 'to be typecast.' Her most recent movies are AASMA, The Sky is the Limit and Red Alert - The Enemy Within.
Like her character in Cooking with Stella Lisa Ray is a product of mixed cultures; just like Maya, she is from an Indian-Polish family. Lisa grew up in Toronto and was "discovered" in India, while on vacation. She rapidly became a top model and was voted by the Times of India poll as one of the "Top Ten Most Beautiful Women of India'. One of her first film roles was in Deepa Mehta's comedy Bollywood Hollywood. She spent time in London and studied at the Central Drama School and has subsequently appeared in many Canadian and international films, including World Unseen, All Hat, Kill Kill Faster Faster, Seeking Fear and I Can't Think Straight. Her long friendship and professional collaboration with Deepa Mehta led to her portrayal of the heartbreaking young widow Kalyani in Water. Her role as Maya in Cooking with Stella reunites Lisa with the Hamilton Mehta Productions team for the third time.
Shriya Saran began her career in music videos and as a dancer and model; her first major movie hit was in Santhosham (2002). Since then she has appeared in numerous Bollywood films. Her most famous role is alongside Rajinikanth in Shivaji: The Boss, which is the most expensive Indian movie ever made - after Dasavathram. Shriya‘s other well-known films are TAGORE and Chatrapati. Like her character Tannu in Cooking with Stella Shriya was born in Haridwar. In January 2008 a fundamentalist Hindu group complained about an outfit she was wearing to promote one of her films, and she was compelled to apologize for “wearing inappropriate skimpy attire”. She is the fourth Bollywood actress to be attacked publicly, in this way.
This is the second project with Hamilton Mehta Productions for Vansh Bhardwaj. His first movie role was the volatile husband in Deepa Mehta‘s 2008 film Heaven on Earth — a role that is light years away from the charming rogue Anthony in Cooking with Stella. Vansh is from Punjab and has been a dedicated theatre actor, since he was 11. He has often worked with renowned thespian Neelam Mansingh Chowdry, and recently performed in a multilingual, multicultural project in Japan, directed by Chowdry.
Multi Genie- and Gemini Award-winning and magnificently talented, Maury Chaykin has a vast resume of television, radio and film projects. He was born in Brooklyn, raised in New York, and has lived in Canada for most of his life. His film credits range from indie classics to mainstream Hollywood, with memorable roles in Dances with Wolves, Mrs. Soffel, My Cousin Vinnie, The Sweet Hereafter, and many more. He is the lead in A&E's long running, internationally successful Nero Wolfe series, and he recently appeared, alongside Don McKellar, in Fernando Mereilles‘ Blindness. He is also well known for his hilarious recurring role (a send-up of Harvey Weinstein) in the Entourage television series.
This is Alexiane’s debut role as a professional film actor. Her previous appearances (all noteworthy) have been in home movies and family videos. At the time of filming, she lived in the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, where her mother Myriam Morin Dupras was a diplomat. She was a wonderfully cooperative, enormously insightful, and easygoing cast member. Admired and appreciated — by everyone.
Dilip Mehta was born in New Delhi and is a Canadian citizen. He has a long and distinguished career as a photojournalist. His provocative, five-year coverage of the Bhopal Gas tragedy won him numerous prizes including the World Press and Overseas Press Awards. His work has been published in The New York Times, Figaro, Newsweek, National Geographic, Geo, Stern, The London Sunday Times, Time, and also in the multi- country, award-winning “Day in the Life” series. His photographs of Indian Prime Ministers have been covers of Time and Newsweek.
Dilip‘s feature documentary The Forgotten Woman, about widows in contemporary India, premiered at the 2008 Hot Docs Festival in Toronto. The Forgotten Woman has been invited to over 16 international festivals, and continues to win accolades and audience awards. Dilip has himself been the subject of a documentary: The Photojournalism of Dilip Mehta, co produced by CBC and Channel 4, UK. He has been a crucial part of many of Deepa Mehta‘s films: as production designer and associate producer on Water, as production designer on Heaven on Earth, and as a creative producer on Earth.
Deepa Mehta is one of Canada's most influential and respected filmmakers. Her movies have received numerous awards and played at every major film festival; she has received honourary degrees, tributes and awards around the world, including the prestigious CineAsia "Best Director Award'. Her Elemental Trilogy comprises: Fire (1996) which she also wrote, Earth (1998), her adaptation of Bapsi Sidhwa's acclaimed novel and Water (2005) which was nominated for an Academy Award as best Foreign Film. Water had a notoriously difficult and dangerous production history; it also became a box office success in Canada and worldwide. Her earlier comedy Bollwood Hollywood (2002) remains one of the top 10 grossing English Canadian films. Her other movies are: Sam and Me (1991), Camilla (1994), Republic of Love (2004), Heaven on Earth (2008). Future projects include Midnight's Children, which she is co-writing with author Salman Rushdie.
Before embarking into filmmaking, David Hamilton received his masters at Harvard and wrote a book about "Decision Theory" that was published by MIT Press. He then traveled for a year in India, Iran and the Middle East on a Harvard Sheldon Traveling Fellowship. He now divides his time between Ottawa and Toronto.
For the past 15 years, his company Hamilton Mehta Productions has produced Deepa Mehta's very successful films: the Elemental Trilogy: Fire, Earth, Water (and this included four years spent putting Water back together after it was shut down by Hindu fundamentalists), Bollwood Hollywood and Heaven on Earth. He was also the executive producer on the 2001, first ever, Hong Kong - Canada co-production Lunch with Charles, directed by Michael Parker. Recently David was the producer of Dilip Mehta's internationally acclaimed documentary The Forgotten Woman. He was once a tightrope performer in a children's circus (an activity remarkably akin to feature film production) and has acted in plays and musicals.
British-born Giles Nuttgens has a long professional history with filmmaking in India, which has been a second home for him for the past 20 years. He met Deepa Mehta in Benares in 2002 when they were shooting The Young Indiana Jones Chronicle for Lucasfilm. He shot the Elemental Trilogy with Deepa, and he also shot Bandit Queen with director Shakhar Kapur. Giles won the Cinematography Award at Sundance in 2001 for The Deep End and he has had a close collaboration with filmmaker David Mackenzie for the past few years, shooting Young Adam, Asylum and Hallam Foe with him. In his earlier career, Giles was one of the youngest film cameramen at the BBC and has shot documentaries on social and environmental issues all over the world.
Tamara Deverell studied Renaissance art and architecture in Florence, and design and painting at the Emily Carr Institute of Art. She worked as an art director with renowned production designers François Séguin and Carol Spier, on such films as Crash and Existenz, both directed by David Cronenberg. She was also the art director on X Men, and on Guillermo del Toro‘s Mimic. Her work as a production designer covers a wide range of periods and styles, and includes the Eloise at the Plaza television movies, and the mini series Sounder and A Feast for all Saints. She was the production designer for Deepa Mehta‘s comedy Bollwood Hollywood, for Breakfast with Scot, director Laurie Lynd and also for THE Burning Season, director Harvey Crossland — which was shot in India. She is currently designing the ABC series Happy Town. Her four months in New Delhi researching and designing Cooking with Stella were a professional and personal highlight.
Gareth C. Scales attended the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and was a resident at the Canadian Film Centre in 2003. His feature film editing credits include Everything‘s Gone Green (writer Douglas Coupland), and The Tracey Fragments (director Bruce McDonald), which was nominated for a Genie Award for Best Editing. Gareth has also edited television dramas: The Murdoc Mysteries and Less Than Kind. He won a Gemini Award for the CBC series The Tournament, and is currently editing the CTV/CBS series Flashpoint. A tremendous bonus for Gareth, in working on Cooking with Stella, was the time he spent in New Delhi, cutting the film with Dilip Mehta — his first visit to India.
Mychael Danna is Canada‘s preeminent film composer. He is recognized as one of the pioneers of combining non-Western sound sources with orchestral and electronic minimalîism in the world of film music. He was the composer-in-residence at the McLaughlin Planetarium for five years, and has composed for international theatre and dance projects. His feature film debut was for Atom Egoyan‘s Family Viewing (1987), and he has scored almost all of Atom Egoyan‘s subsequent films. He is also a collaborator of Deepa Mehta‘s, most recently on Water and Heaven On Earth. He has worked with many other of the world‘s great directors, among them: Terry Gilliam, Scott Hicks, Neil LaBute, Ang Lee, Gilles MacKinnon, James Mangold, Istvan Szabo. His over 60 feature film credits include Little Miss Sunshine, Capote, Girl Interrupted, The Ice Storm and Monsoon Weeding.
Rashmi Varma was born in Montréal and grew up between Canada, Saudi Arabia and India. She now lives in Toronto. She is a clothes and textile designer who has worked in film, theatre, fashion and the visual arts. She uses garments to tell stories, examining history, space and culture, while exploring the intersection between fashion and art. Her performance and fashion installations have been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and at the Textile Museum of Canada. She was the costume designer on an earlier Hamilton Mehta Productions project - the 2008 film Heaven on Earth.
Amritha Vaz was trained in Western classical piano and violin and studied Carnatic music for two years in Bangalore, India. She has been composing film music with Mychael Danna for Pomegranates and Myrrh (director Najwa Najjar), 500 Days of Summer (director Mark Webb), Time Traveler‘s Wife (director Robert Schwentke), and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (director Terry Gilliam). Amritha was also a collaborator, with Mychael, on Deepa‘s movie Heaven on Earth.
Cameron Stauch graduated from McGill with a Bachelor of Commerce, and graduated from the Stratford Chef's School - with Distinction. He spent two years in Hong Kong and South East Asia traveling, tasting and studying the local cuisines. From 2003 until 2005 he worked as Chef tournant for Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. When his diplomat wife Ayesha Rekhi was posted to New Delhi in 2005, he became a consulting chef at the Canadian High Commission; advising on training, catering and renovations. He also traveled throughout India meeting restaurateurs, chefs and home cooks, accumulating recipes and studying local and traditional methods of cooking - a life-long, passionate interest. He, Ayesha and their daughter Lyla lived in the Canadian High Commission compound for three and a half years; they recently returned to Ottawa, where they welcomed a new baby into the family. Ayesha continues to work at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and Cameron has returned to Rideau Hall, and continues to compile his recipes from the subcontinent.
Cooking with Stella was Cameron's first experience as a food stylist for movies. He was relieved and delighted that both Seema Biswas and Don McKellar are experienced home cooks - familiar with kitchen techniques. Researching, testing and designing the recipes that are woven into the movie, many of them traditional dishes from Kerala (Stella's home state) and working on set during the production of Cooking with Stella was a highlight of his time in India.