‘I’m a first-rate writer and second-rate director’

Sai Paranjype treats theatre lovers to her style of narration through Aalbel.

Written by Garima Mishra | Published: March 4, 2012 3:48 am

She has given Indian cinema some of the most simple yet extraordinary films such as Katha,Chashme Buddoor and Sparsh. Sai Paranjype’s cinematic work remains a testimony to the fact that audiences can fall in love with the protagonist without a larger than life portrayal of the character. On Wednesday evening,at the Vinod Doshi Memorial Theatre Festival,Pune,Paranjype treated theatre lovers to her style of narration through her Marathi play Aalbel. Last year,the play had not only marked the return of the National Centre of the Performing Arts (NCPA) to theatre production,but also of this noted writer and filmmaker. Paranjype got back to theatre after a gap of two decades.

Aalbel is about three murder convicts who happen to be together in one jail cell. All three characters are completely different from each other. “Bappa is a well-read teacher,an erudite and scholarly fellow,who runs a school for poor tribal girls in a village. He ends up in jail for murdering a rapist,who was trying to assault and rape his visually-challenged daughter. The second one,Sada,too is a nice person,who wants to lead a good life but happens to kill his wife. The third one,Bhairav,is a hard-core contract killer,” elaborates Paranjype. Though the three inmates are initially wary of each other,their relationship develops as the play progresses. They share their stories,angst and experiences with one another.

Staying away from filmmaking wasn’t a conscious decision,feels Paranjype. “Film-making is a difficult,demanding and time-consuming process. When one is new and is just venturing out,it is easy to go around and experiment,but once you have made a name,it is difficult to compromise on one’s principles,” she opines. “Besides,I prefer writing my films. I always say that I’m a first-rate writer and second-rate director. Writing takes a lot of time and research,” adds the veteran,who is known for her thorough research.

For instance,for the film Papeeha that was the story of an anthropologist who falls in love with a forest officer,she stayed in a forest for almost a year. “I remember eating red ant chutney with the tribals prior to Papeeha,” recalls the 74-year-old. Similarly,for the film Sparsh,that won the National Award in 1980,she did extensive research about the education of the visually-challenged. The filmmaker now feels that she has done her bit and is happy viewing the work of youngsters these days. She admits that she is currently working on something but refuses to reveal anything more.

She also refrains from commenting on the remake of Chashme Buddoor. The off-beat comedy of the ‘80s is being re-made by David Dhawan and will star Pakistani singer-actor,Ali Zafar and South-Indian actor,Siddharth. “I have nothing to do with the film and I don’t want to talk about it,” she says.

During her double stint as the chairperson of Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI),she made four films with CFSI. “I enjoyed the period at CFSI. Some of our films were appreciated and Jadoo Ka Shankh and Sikander even won awards,” she recalls. Talking about the current position of children’s films,she says,“I don’t think there is any dearth of ideas but one should not forget that since the ministry is involved here,there are a lot of rules. I have faith in the current chairperson and feel that CFSI is in good hands,” she adds.

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