Filmmaker and screenwriter Kalpana Lajmi, noted for films such as Rudaali, Darmiyaan and Daman, died in Mumbai on Sunday following multiple organ failure. She was 64.
Lajmi was the daughter of painter Lalita Lajmi and niece of legendary filmmaker Guru Dutt.
Her brother, Dev Lajmi, confirmed the news of her death.
“She passed away at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital at 4.30am. She was suffering from chronic kidney disease and liver failure. She was on dialysis. She has been in and out of the hospital for three years,” Dev said.
Lajmi had been in the intensive care unit since Tuesday due to kidney-related issues, her spokesperson Parul Chawla said.
The cremation will take place at 12.30pm at the Oshiwara crematorium.
Lajmi had been undergoing dialysis for a couple of years, and true to her indomitable spirit, had said in an interview last year: “My kidneys have failed, but I haven’t.”
Lajmi debuted as an assistant director under renowned film director Shyam Benegal, who was also her uncle. She went on to work as an assistant costume designer in Benegal’s Bhumika: The Role (1977), starring Smita Patil, Amol Palekar and Naseeruddin Shah.
“She was a very fine filmmaker. She went through a long period of illness. It is tragic. She was much young to go,” Benegal said.
Lajmi made her directorial debut with the documentary D.G. Movie Pioneer in 1978. She debuted as a feature film director with Ek Pal in 1986.
Known for making fiery films with women at the core of her stories, her filmography boasts of movies such as Rudaali, Daman, Darmiyaan and Chingaari, her last directorial.
Rudaali (1993), featuring Dimple Kapadia in the lead, was India’s official entry for Best Foreign Language film at the 66th Academy Awards. It also went on to win three Indian National Film Awards, including best actress for Kapadia, best art direction for Samir Chanda and best costume design for Simple Kapadia.
Actress Raveena Tandon, who played the lead role as a battered wife in Daman, mourned Lajmi’s demise.
“You will be missed Kalpanaji. Was not your time to go... But may your heart now be at peace. Those days while shooting Daman will be a treasured memory. Om Shanti,” Tandon wrote on Twitter.
Soni Razdan, a close friend of Lajmi, was heartbroken over the news.
“She has been suffering for a long time. But she fought very hard. Unfortunately her body couldn’t handle it. I did speak to her last Sunday and we were supposed to meet on Wednesday, but she was readmitted to the ICU,” Razdan said.
Earlier, the actress tweeted: “Our dear beloved friend Kalpana Lajmi has gone to a better place. RIP my darling Kalpan. I shall miss you so terribly.”
Lajmi, who was going through a financial crisis, was supported by several celebrities from the film industry in her final days, including Razdan, Alia Bhatt, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Karan Johar and Neena Gupta.
Razdan said the director-writer had penned a book, Bhupen Hazarika - As I Knew Him on the veteran singer and her long-time companion, which she was planning to adapt to big screen. Chingaari, starring Sushimita Sen, was based on Hazarika’s novel The Prostitute and the Postman.
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta, who worked with Lajmi as an editor when she made Darmiyaan, wrote: “Will always remember her with fondness and respect for being a fearless woman and a powerhouse of a person in a male dominated industry. Rest in peace dear Kalpana.”
Actress Huma Qureshi said she was “deeply saddened” by the news.