Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi, who was known for her women oriented, powerhouse films like Rudaali, Chingaari, Ek Pal and Daman died in Mumbai on Sunday. Ms Lajmi was diagnosed with kidney cancer last year. Actor Huma Qureshi tweeted early morning that Ms Lajmi died at about 4.30 am.
Ms lajmi was companion of Bhupen Hazarika fo over 40 years ad her recent book ‘Bhupen Hazarika – As I Knew Him – stirred a storm in Assam, as she was heavily critoical of people of Assam and painted them as opportunist in milking Bhupen Hazarika.
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.
Ms Lajmi, 61, directed her last film Chingari with Mithun Chakraborty, Anuj Sawhney and Sushmita Sen in 2006.
Actors who have been close to her have tweeted their tribute to the award winning director and screenwriter.
Since Ms Lajmi was detected with cancer, several artists in the film world including Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt, Soni Razdan and Neena Gupta helped her out financially.
Ms Lajmi had authored a book on her companion of 40 years, Bhupen Hazarika. The book ‘Bhupen Hazarika – As I Knew Him’ was launched in Mumbai on September 8 by Shyam Benegal. The director who was in hospital at time could not be at the launch of her book.