Meetra Javed: Exploring Diversity, Identity, and Memory in Film

Meetra Javed: Exploring Diversity, Identity, and Memory in Film


The light that comes from perspective is one that’s always shifting around the sphere in New York, and we got to talk about such stories with Meetra Javed. Meetra is an executive producer, writer, and recent director, whose multidisciplinary narratives have woven together identity, humanity, and ongoing memory. We got the chance to talk to Meetra about her exploration of direction, understanding diasporic narratives, and building archives through film.


BISKIT: Hi Meetra! Can we start by telling me a bit about yourself? 

MEETRA JAVED: I’m a Pakistani-American New York based executive producer, writer, and more recently so, a learning director. I grew up on Long Island, but have found the city to be home for the past decade.

I got inspired to explore the film world after a freelance documentary translating job experience I had at Vice, during college. It has been a long way since, surrounded by beautiful and impactful learning experiences with only more to come.

One thing I will say is that I’m grateful to be a New Yorker, it’s given me the world quite literally and metaphorically. The ability to look at art through the lens of painters, writers, designers, photographers, musicians, chefs - from a global perspective has been fundamental to my creative growth. All of these people I’ve encountered over the years and their generous forms have greatly influenced my critical thinking abilities. 

I’ve been lucky enough to work in various worlds: commercials, brand stories, documentaries, films, and abstract art. When I’m not working in production I’m generally writing or obsessing about design related things (furniture, clothing, ceramics). I have an affinity and great respect for design.

Meetra Javed in our Cellular Top Grey 


BISKIT: What got you into directing in particular? 

MEETRA: I would say there are two major influences, the first being my love for writing, which is what I think eventually led to my interest in both directing and producing.

As I got older, I’ve realized my way of processing memory was always linked to remembering the light in a room, which is always the starting point for me when I recollect a story mentally.

I got into directing because I love storytelling. You can see the same thing from so many different perspectives in a story based on the viewpoint of a character, and there’s an inherent humanity and poetry to exploring that. I’m new to directing -   but there’s something exciting about painting your own picture, you know? You decide where the light in the story is. There’s also a constant learning curve, a constant willingness to challenge yourself, which I enjoy.  

I grew up in a home where family time was heavily prioritized on weekends, and family time in my house always meant “movie” time. On Fridays, after my parents got home from work we’d take a trip to Blockbuster and pick two to three movies which we’d watch through the weekend. I found this to be the beginning of my interest in storytelling, and more so, storytelling was a precious means to bond with my family. 


BISKIT: So through directing, how would you say the space of the visual translates your specific visions? 

MEETRA: There is an endless world to play with, and it can be as abstract as you want it to be - and I love that.

The space of visuals is unlimited and affects everything everywhere, and ultimately from a shallow perspective becomes what we are defined by. 

From the clothing we wear, to the furniture we buy, to the colors we like. All of these things make up our outward character. Design choices influence everything else and this way of thinking very much influences all of my visual choices, both in my personal life and now as I begin to define my creative work…


BISKIT: How are diasporic narratives interwoven in your conversations?

MEETRA: Naturally the diaspora influences me since I’m an immigrant, and a woman of color - it’s pretty embedded in my blood. I’ve had to face a lot of challenges and see my parents go through a lot of difficulties - but in that I’ve learned the types of projects I want to focus on should have a more universal gateway to greater conversations about humility, shame, and pain - at the human level. I made a short film about what the Earth would be like if we lost all the flowers in the world from the heat of climate change. I cast two twin sisters who are South Asian, but the focus was bigger than that, you know? The hope was that we’d reconsider our actions as a society…not just as South Asians. I am here to celebrate and educate through the lens of the diaspora and shine a light on it for others, but not make it the main premise of my work. What speaks to me most is what is universally powerful, and that is what I hope to embody in my work. There is a case to be made about representation…of course. 

 Meetra Javed - Cellular Top detail 


BISKIT: Your film for Misha Japanwala’s show at the Hannah Traore Gallery was truly powerful. Could you touch more on what present day archiving means in this film? 

MEETRA: Thank you - the whole team on this project was so amazing. Misha is a passionate genius and everyone who supported this project was very special to me. In terms of archiving, it's twofold. One part is the actual objects/ sculptures - which is Misha’s work. This in my opinion will be archived and be culturally relevant as thought defying art, and the other from a film perspective is an archival reminder of what it means to be truly brave in Pakistani society, in 2023. Each of these subjects exist in a world that is ready to politically and culturally shame and wreck them for their sexuality or way of expressing themselves . I can’t help but think, what will the status of these identities and our ways of thinking about them be in 20 years? 


BISKIT: What’s your relationship with showcasing cultural narratives across different brands you work with?

MEETRA: I like to ensure casting is inclusive always and that we don’t pigeon hole South Asia to one specific narrative. To be Pakistani is a different history than to be Indian, or to be Bengali or to be Sri Lankan - this is something I want brands to understand a little bit better, it’s really important to understand history before we make something part of our marketing plan. I know there isn’t always time and space for it, but if I’m working on something I like to be especially mindful of this. I’m overall a hopeful storyteller so my job is really just to listen, without judgment. When I’m not doing that I’m more so always a producer, who finds a way to make things happen for brands and people.  


BISKIT: What’s coming next?! 

MEETRA: More commercial work, a poetry book, and a film on grief - hopefully. 

Interview by Sahana Srinivasan

Images by Suchitha 



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