Living Legend with Ms. Sai Paranjpye

Renowned film and theatre director and screenwriter Ms. Sai Paranjpye graced the ‘Living Legend’ series held at Bahumukh, NSD campus today in conversation with Ms. Kusum Haidar, a well-known theatre director and actress. An alumnus of National School of Drama, Padma Bhushan Ms. Paranjpye has directed Marathi plays such as Jaswandi, Sakkhe Shejari, and Albel. She served as the Chairperson of Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) twice.

Over the years,Ms. Paranjpye has written and directed plays in Marathi, Hindi, and English foradults and children. She has written and directed six feature films, twochildren's films, and five documentaries. She has written many books forchildren, and six of them have won national or state level awards. 

Ms. SaiParanjpye’s first children’s book was published when she was just 8 years old.Reminiscing about that experience, Ms. Paranjpye says, “My mother used to readstories to me before I went to sleep and one fine day she asked me to read astory to her as she was too tired and wanted to sleep. I read a story to herwhich I had made and she was pleasantly surprised. She couldn’t believe that Ihad made a story on my own and since that day she instructed me to pen down twostories each day. I hated it at first but within few days I had an extensivecollection of stories and that is how my first book got published.” “I believethere are many children that possess some talent since childhood but they don’thave a doting mother like me”, adds Ms. Paranjpye jokingly.

Ms.Paranjpye worked for many years as a director or a producer with DoordarshanTelevision in New Delhi. Ms. Paranjpye's first feature film ‘Sparsh’ won fiveawards, including the National Film Award. Sparsh was followed by the comediesChashme Buddoor and Katha. Talking about her inspiration for Sparsh, Ms.Paranjpye says, “I have deep empathy for blinds and so much so that I can’teven bear to look at them as it is too painful. Quite ironically, I was forcedto go to a blind school as part of my job with Doordarshan and as soon as Ientered the school, I realised that the blinds do not actually pity themselvesor consider themselves to be handicapped. They in fact live a very normal life.It was my time at that blind school that inspired me to make Sparsh.” 

On being atthe National School of Drama for the Living Legend series, Ms. Paranjpye says,“It feels really good to be back at NSD after so many years. It is where Ilearnt the nuances of acting, directing and scriptwriting during my earlyyears, under the tutelage of then director Mr. Ebrahim Alkazi. I was never verymuch interested in acting as my interest lied in scriptwriting and directionbut he pushed me beyond my limits and moulded me into a refined personality. Ithank him for everything he taught me.” 

Ms. SaiParanjpye is a multimedia personality and made her own way, creatingentertainment that obliterated previous material and created an indelible linebetween mainstream and parallel cinema. She has directed several documentarymovies, including Helping Hand (London), Talking Books, Capt. Laxmi, WarnaOrchestra, and Pankaj Mullick. Ms. Paranjpye's 1993 documentary Choodiyan, onthe anti-liquor agitation in a small Maharashtra village for the FilmsDivision, received the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues.

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