Born in Nagpur, Jagmohan Mundhra grew up in a Marwari neighbourhood in north Kolkata. His family was very conservative and in Mundhra's own words "the children were allowed to see maybe a couple of films a year and that too of the Har Har Mahadev variety". But, Mundhra nurtured a secret ambition of becoming a filmmaker.
The turning point in Mundhra's life was getting admission into IIT Bombay.
In his words, "I had studied in a Hindi medium school up to 9th grade and always admired people who spoke English fluently. IIT taught me a lot of humility. In my wing, there were students who were from different states, and as far as English went, this person from Bihar who couldn’t speak English to save his life outshone everyone else with his brilliance.
"I did well, but realised very early on while in IIT that engineering was not for me. I would be very unhappy if I was to live my life being an engineer, but I stuck it out because I didn’t want to let my parents down".
After completing one semester in electrical engineering in Michigan, Mundhra switched to marketing. He wrote his marketing thesis on motion pictures. He did a comparative study of marketing practices in Hollywood and Bollywood. The study led him to visit the Hindi film industry and meet people.
After finishing his PhD he taught for a year at California State University. His stay in California brought him closer to Hollywood. Finally, in 1979 he resigned and became a full time filmmaker.
After his first dramas, Suraag, and the socially-relevant film, Kamla, Mundhra directed, in the late 1980s and the 1990s, a string of horror and erotic thriller movies for theatrical distribution and direct to video, including The Jigsaw Murders (1988), Halloween Night (1988), Night Eyes (1990), L.A. Goddess (1993), Sexual Malice (1994) and Tales of the Kama Sutra 2: Monsoon (1998).
However, he is best known for his issue-oriented movies like Bawandar and Provoked starring Aishwariya Rai.
Mundhra died of cardiac arrest on 4 September 2011 in Mumbai. The 62-year old was admitted to Bombay Hospital on 2 September for internal bleeding.
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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2011 13:09:00 IST