• Thursday, Dec 01, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Feminist filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi dies at 64

  • Published at 03:20 pm September 23rd, 2018
web-Kalpana Lajmi

In 1988, Lajmi expanded her scope to television when she directed the serial 'Lohit Kinare'

Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi died in Mumbai early on Sunday morning after a battle with kidney cancer.

Born on May 31, 1954, Lajmi grew up in Mumbai with her younger brother, Devdas. She was the daughter of Navy captain Gopi Lajmi and painter Lalitha Lajmi. Her maternal uncle was the renowned director Guru Dutt.

Lajmi was also related to filmmaker Shyam Benegal, a maternal cousin with whom she worked as an assistant director. Her first assignment was as a costume assistant on the set of “Bhumika” (1977), starring Smita Patil in the lead. She graduated to the post of assistant director in “Mandi” (1983). Before she ventured into filmmaking, Lajmi was offered the role of Zeenat Aman in “Heera Panna” (1973), but she declined the offer by actor-director Dev Anand.

In 1971, when Lajmi was studying psychology at St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, she met music composer Bhupen Hazarika, who was then scoring the music for “Aarop,” a film directed by Lajmi’s uncle Atma Ram. It was released in 1974. Her meeting with Hazarika blossomed into a relationship and later into a fruitful professional collaboration.

In 1978, Lajmi opened her co-production company with Hazarika and they started making documentaries such as D.G. “Movie Pioneer” (1978), “A Work Study in Tea Plucking” (1979) and “Along The Brahmaputra” (1981), before she moved on to feature films with “Ek Pal” (1986), starring Shabana Azmi and Farooque Shaikh.

“Ek Pal” dealt with the themes of female sexuality and extra-marital affairs. Lajmi co-wrote the script with Gulzar. Hazarika composed the music, blending folk and modern elements into the melodies. The film was critically acclaimed and it launched Lajmi’s career in an industry where few women had ventured into film direction.

In 1988, Lajmi expanded her scope to television when she directed the serial “Lohit Kinare.” In 1993, she returned to the big screen with “Rudaali.” The film featured Dimple Kapadia the National Film Award for Best Actress and the haunting raag-based compositions by Hazarika, especially the song “Dil Hoom Hoom Kare” in raga Bhopali, were immensely popular.

Lajmi explored the themes of female sexuality and women’s empowerment in her films. In her career spanning four decades, she remained focused on putting women in the centre of her stories. She considered herself as a humanist filmmaker, highlighting women’s issues in her four subsequent films, “Darmiyaan” (1997), “Daman” (2011), “Kyon” (2003) and “Chingaari” (2006). Dismissing labels bandied around her women-oriented films in an interview, Lajmi defended her beliefs. “I have never been consciously feminist. I am more a humanist,” said Lajmi.

This article was first published on scroll.in and is being republished under special arrangement

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail