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Rudaali to Daman: Kalpana Lajmi's Films Preceded Their Time

By: Vaishali Jain


Last Updated: September 23, 2018, 12:11 IST

Rudaali to Daman: Kalpana Lajmi's Films Preceded Their Time

From marital rape to prostitution, Kalpana Lajmi's films were way ahead of their time.

Today the world woke to the sad news of acclaimed filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi's death. Lajmi, a director, producer and screenwriter, was known for working on real subjects, often creating women centric films.

Her brother Dev Lajmi told PTI, "She passed away at the (Kokilaben Dhirubhai) Ambani hospital at 4.30 am. She was suffering from a chronic kidney disease and liver failure. She was on dialysis. She has been in and out of the hospital for three years. The last rites will be possibly conducted today".

Commemorating the filmmaker, here are some of her notable works:


Rudaali is based on the short story written by a Bengali author Mahasweta Devi. Starring Dimple Kapadia, the film is about a woman named Shanichari, who was discarded by her mother after her father's death. It is a comment on rudaali, a custom in particular areas of Rajasthan, where women are hired as professional mourners and their job is to publicly express grief for the family members who are not permitted to display emotion due to social status. The film was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 66th Academy Awards.

Darmiyaan: In Between

Darmiyaan: In Between stars Arif Zakaria, Tabu and Kiron Kher. Way ahead of its time, this 1940s Bollywood film is set in the tone of social commentary. It narrates the story of an actress who discovers that her son is a eunuch.

Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence

Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence had Raveena Tandon in the lead roles and the actress won the renowned National Film Award for Best Actress. Raveena essayed the role of Durga Saikia who faces martial abuse and is subjected to physical and mental harm by her husband. Lajmi subtly deals with the theme of marital rape in her film.


Based on Bhupen Hazarika's novel, The Prostitute and the Postman, Chingaari was a social satire on influencers in the society. The film is a commentary on the abuse of power and meticulously talks about the injustices of the priests in India. Beneath the love triangle Mithun Chakraborty, Sushmita Sen and Anuj Sawhney brings out the trials of power, prostitution and prejudice.

Ek Pal

Ek Pal dealt with the subject of female sexuality and extra-marital affairs. Starring Shabana Azmi and Farooque Shaikh, Bhupen Hazarika's music took the film a notch above. Co-writing the script with Gulzar, Kalpana made a strong name for herself in the industry.