Meghna Damani is an award-winning Indian-American filmmaker whose films explore identity, spirituality and social justice. She is currently in production of her feature documentary DREAMS UPROOTED, a personal story, which exposes the bold grassroots movement of brave immigrant women who battle the unjust restrictions on dependent spouse visas and the plight of their children who risk deportation. Meghna is a pioneer spokesperson for and has dedicated her life to advocating for work authorization for dependent spouses with her autobiographical film HEARTS SUSPENDED that broke the silence on the issue. It screened on Indian National TV (NDTV) and festivals worldwide. She has been interviewed on POV, NPR, The Washington Post, CNN Money and publications worldwide. Her film screened at Capitol hill, before members of Congress, advocacy groups and universities. As an Impact producer, she built a movement that SAALT (a leading South Asian advocacy organization) highlighted in a statement to the Department of Homeland Security, which resulted in winning work authorization for about 71,000 dependent spouses in America. Her work has been supported by The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Paradiddle Pictures’ DOCCELERATOR STORY LAB, Film in Mind and featured in various scholarly articles and books such as The Opportunity Trap, Visa Wives and High-Tech Housewives. She is proficient in media with a Masters in Marketing from Mumbai, India’s media and entertainment capital, where she was a journalist for national publications, a model and an advertising executive at J Walter Thompson Worldwide for leading brands. A Documentary Media Studies graduate of The New School, she is driven to tell untold, intimate stories about underrepresented communities that bring about grassroots change. She is bi-continental, chasing stories between Jersey City and Mumbai.
Damani found her sense of purpose in making a documentary about H-4 visas called “Hearts Suspended.” Too many Indian women simply accept their lot, even if they’re unhappy, she said.
THE WASHINGTON POST
"I think the misconception is that they're going to take away from the limited pool of jobs," said Meghna Damani, a former H-4 holder, who has become an advocate for reform. "But they're not all participating in that limited pool. A lot of them are entrepreneurs who can actually create jobs.""I think the misconception is that they're going to take away from the limited pool of jobs," said Meghna Damani, a former H-4 holder, who has become an advocate for reform. "But they're not all participating in that limited pool. A lot of them are entrepreneurs who can actually create jobs."
“I could not work and I realized I did not have a sense of purpose. I realized life is not all about walking, exploring, or painting,” she says. Before her marriage, Damani was working at an advertising firm in Mumbai. “I could not even apply for an internship on this visa. I was a housewife, (and could) just do cooking and cleaning.”
The former model and business school graduate went on to make a documentary about her life on the H4, which can be found on YouTube. It begins with this heartbreaking line: “Independence—the very first thing I lost when I set foot in the land of the free.”
Sara Ashley O'Brien,