Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi dead at 64

Mumbai, Sep 23: Filmmaker and screenwriter Kalpana Lajmi, niece of the legendary Guru Dutt and acclaimed for making women-oriented films like Rudaali, Ek Pal, Daman and Chingaari, died here on Sunday following a multiple organ failure at the age of 64.

Extremely sorry to inform you that Kalpana Lajmi passed away this morning at 4.30 a.m., the filmmaker’s spokesperson Parul Chawla told IANS on Sunday.

Lajmi breathed her last at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital here, where she was admitted in the intensive care unit since Tuesday due to kidney-related issues, the spokesperson added.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal paid condolences, as did a slew of well-known names like Hansal Mehta, Nandita Das, Soni Razdan and Raveena Tandon from the film industry.

Sorry to hear of the passing of Kalpana Lajmi, a filmmaker of rare sensitivity. The repertoire of her work, from depicting strong and resilient women to cinematic renditions of Assamese life, was remarkable. Condolences to her family and well-wishers, read a post from the official President of India Twitter handle.

Her contribution to Indian cinema will be remembered forever, said Sonowal.

Lajmi’s cremation took place on Sunday afternoon at the Oshiwara crematorium. Mahesh Bhatt, Soni Razdan, Shabana Azmi and Shyam Benegal were among those who were present.

Soni, who was her close friend, said: Our dear beloved friend Kalpana Lajmi has gone to a better place. RIP my darling Kalpana. I shall miss you so terribly.

Lajmi had been undergoing dialysis for a couple of years, and true to her indomitable spirit, had said in an interview last year: My kidneys have failed, but I haven’t.

She had forayed into filmdom as an assistant director under renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal, following which she made her directorial debut with a documentary film D.G. Movie Pioneer based on Bengali filmmaker Dhiren Ganguly in 1978.

Her feature film debut came with Ek Pal. She also directed the TV serial Lohit Kinaare (1988) for Doordarshan and 26 episodes of a serial Dawn, on the freedom movement of India.

Lajmi’s last film as a director was Chingaari, based on the novel The Prostitute and the Postman by the late Bhupen Hazarika, her long-time companion.

She also penned a book, Bhupen Hazarika: As I Knew Him, on Hazarika. It was launched on September 8 by Benegal and Lajmi’s mother, painter Lalita Lajmi.

The filmmaker, who was hospitalised at that time too, could not attend the event as her doctors had refused to allow her a long commute.

Known for fearless filmmaking with women in strong roles, Lajmi’s 1993 Dimple Kapadia-starrer Rudaali was even chosen as India’s official entry to the 66th Academy Awards.

Actress Raveena Tandon, who played the lead role as a battered wife in Daman, mourned Lajmi’s demise.

You will be missed Kalpanaji. Was not your time to go… But may your heart now be at peace. Those days while shooting ‘Daman’ will be a treasured memory. Om Shanti.

Actor Viveck Vaswani was shattered at the news of the death of his friend and colleague, while Nandita recounted how she had promised to meet Lajmi in the coming week after the release of her film Manto.

No greater pain than losing one’s child, so my deepest condolences to Lalitaji, Nandita wrote.

Lyricist and censor board chief Prasoon Joshi described Lajmi as a seeker looking for more questions than just answers. Actor Ranvir Shorey remembered her as a warm and affectionate human being who made a huge contribution to socially relevant cinema in India.

Mehta, who had worked with Lajmi as an editor when she made Darmiyaan, wrote: Will always remember her with fondness and respect for being a fearless woman and a powerhouse of a person in a male dominated industry. Rest in Peace dear Kalpana.

Actress Huma Qureshi said she was deeply saddened by the news.

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