Indomitable Sai


It wouldn’t be surprising if at all, that the history of filmmaking in the Paranjpye family could be traced back to three generations. After all it was Sai Paranjpye’s grandfather Wrangler, whose return from England with the coveted distinction he got from the Cambridge University in Mathematics in December of 1901, that marked the beginning of filmmaking in India. So it wouldn’t be difficult then to track the source of Paranjpye’s inspiration.

Educated in Australia, Sai Paranjpye found the outlet to her creative urge through her illustrious films like Sparsha and Disha that gave India a new aspect to filmmaking. She also developed an uncanny flair for writing when she was barely eight! She became well known for her Marathi plays intended for children, and as a playwright who went as far in making feature films in the early 70’s. Her subjects range from children’s issues to the poignant tale of migrant workers in Bombay, caught between urban displacement and a changing rural reality.

Paranjype who is Kathmandu for the Film South Asia ‘05 says, “The festival has been able to gather momentum and it is more vibrant than ever before. It marks the continuity of film festivals now that documentary filmmakers have a perfect platform to express through a powerful medium.” She, however, thinks that documentary films must be subsidised.

Beginning her filmmaking career in an era of firebrands who advocated social and cultural issues Paranjpye has indeed witnessed it all. “The most important principle that a filmmaker ought to stick to is to reach out to the larger mass and make a lasting impression. While feature films are more a work of fiction, documentary is more serious in its approach,” she says. However, she does not draw a distinct dividing line the two. “Documentary films have a special appeal that to a certain extent motivates people for a certain cause, but that doesn’t alone qualify it to be placed under a certain category,” she adds.

She has arguably been one of the few filmmakers to indulge with her eccentricities and explore more into the art genre, but shuns to be labelled as one such. “I’ve always made films sticking to my sense of values,” she quips. And that perhaps, is her most valuable asset as a filmmaker. Her sense of value, sensitivity, humour and originality are her trademarks.

She does not think that the concept of filmmaking has changed at all since she first ventured into filmmaking. Technological improvements aside, it is always the concept that has ruled the roost, she says.

And she has an uncanny knack of noticing the story in a situation that almost flows within her as a spontaneity. “I don’t go shopping for them. I come to them without knowing where and when they might occur,” she philosophises. She emphasises on the glorious prospects for documentary filmmaking in the region, being witness to developments that has created a huge audience for documentary films. “If you create balloons, it is important that you have children to play with those, but, it is unfortunate when politics encroaches on art and becomes an obstacle to well-intentioned film festivals,” she says.