Kalpana Lajmi, who carved a niche for herself, dies

Right from her first feature film, Ek Pal (1986), Kalpana Lajmi carved out a distinct space for herself in Indian cinema. Based on a short story by Maitreyi Devi, the love triangle, with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Farooque Sheikh in the lead, wasn’t just seen through the perspective of the woman but also gave her agency in the relationship(s). Lajmi was among the early feminist film-makers who came to the forefront during the so-called parallel cinema years. Her spare but well-intentioned and significant body of work remained acutely focused on gender. The film to bring the spotlight on her was her second, and perhaps the most persuasive feature film, Rudaali (1993). Like Ek Pal , this was also based on the work of a woman writer — the iconic Mahashweta Devi. It placed the issue of gender and patriarchy in the broader context of class and caste divides, through the tale of a woman who is unable to weep despite the many personal losses. Will her friendship with a rudaali (professional mourner) help her to embrace her grief and lead her on to be what she was always destined to be? The friendship/sorority of women found an interesting representation through the characters of Bhikni and Shanichari, played by Rakhee Gulzar and Dimple respectively. It brought Dimple the national award for best actress. The intersectionality of gender and sexuality, much discussed as a growing, compelling theme in contemporary cinema found an early exploration at the hands of Lajmi in the pathbreaking Darmiyaan (1997). Set in the fickle world of films, it is centred on a transgender Immi (played by Arif Zakaria) and his actor mother Zeenat (Kiron Kher) who is in denial of him and of herself. Eventually, it is Immi who goes about helping her find and reclaim herself.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-life/kalpana-lajmi-who-carved-a-niche-for-herself-dies/article25023736.ece

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