‘Creation is reward for having enjoyed the process of creativity’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Dec 2017 10:06:33

By Kartik Lokhande,

Not long ago, when she was heading the jury in the feature film category of 55th National Film Awards, Sai Paranjpye faced a typical problem. Renowned music director and singer Bappi Lahiri was trying to get in touch with her and he explored various avenues. Farookh Sheikh, an acclaimed actor, got caught in this and one day he gave Paranjpye a call to ask if he could give her cellphone number to Bappi Lahiri.

“I warned him, “Agar apni jaan pyaari na ho to de do.” But, this happens when you are on jury,” recalls the internationally acclaimed path-breaking film-maker Sai Paranjpye. After a brief moment, she laughs cheerfully and says that she wants this to be published. The incident, though small, comes as a reminder of how strong a person she is. At the same time, it reveals how unaffected she is to the pressures. One can go on quoting various such anecdotes but when there is an opportunity to interview her, one cannot afford to get caught in that temptation.

Talking to ‘The Hitavada’ on the sidelines of the Short Course in Film Appreciation organised by and at G H Raisoni College of Engineering on Saturday, Sai Paranjpye reveals different shades of her personality -- a creative person, a keen observer of human behaviour, a sensitive writer, a film-maker with universal sensibilities, and also a firm believer in devotion to work.

Born on March 19, 1938, this grand-daughter of a stalwart scholar like Wrangler Paranjpye has to her credit a very fantastic journey of work-life -- All India Radio, Doordarshan, films, documentaries, books, tele-serials, and what not. All these clubbed with her Russian and Indian roots, education in Australia, travel around the globe, have shaped her personality. Western and Indian cultures are perceived to be in conflict with each other, but she stresses that she did not face any such conflict. “All these things have maximum influence on me. I simply cannot segregate which part of my personality is influenced by which culture,” says the ‘Padma Bhushan’ recipient, who knows Western fairy tales to Sanskrit shlokas with equal ease.

Even at the age of 80 years, when many people put a full-stop to their work-life, she is deeply engrossed into her creativity with the energy and refreshing laughter of a 30-year-young woman. This happens when one enjoys the process of creativity very much. “Yes. I enjoy it thoroughly,” Sai Paranjpye replies to a question in this regard. What does she like the most -- creativity or creation? A contemplative pause comes before her response, “Creativity and Creation both cannot be separated from each other. Creativity leads to Creation. In fact, Creation is reward for having enjoyed the process of Creativity.” As a brilliant writer and director, she is constantly in pursuit of excellence. At the same time, she adds with a chuckle, she loves appreciation.

Apart from being a director of repute, Sai Paranjpye is known for her writing finesse. “It helps a lot when writer and director of a movie are the same person. Then, one can imagine problems and strong points in a story, portray characters very well, ensure authenticity in presentation, and also helps in smooth editing,” she explains.

The award-winning director of the movies like ‘Sparsh’, ‘Katha’, ‘Chashme Buddoor’ and ‘Disha’, was also Chairperson of Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI). Given the poor performance of CFSI in production of children’s films today, she feels that it is ‘misfortune’ of the kids in India. She also finds a reason behind such a sorry state of affairs, “Whenever the Ministry is involved, the situation is fluid. With change of Ministers, bureaucrats, and officials, other changes in concepts, ideas, programmes, priorities also change. A good performance requires vision of a person heading CFSI and also his wherewithal, gumption, dynamism, and the support he gets.” On her experience as CFSI head, she remarks, “Films keep changing. I found that my time was spent more with exercise in bureaucracy than creativity.”

As the conversation comes to the changes in films, Sai Paranjpye says with palpable pride that Marathi movies were coming up in a fantastic manner with richness in content and production values too. As one points out that barring Marathi and a few other languages, the regional cinema had become less visible than before, she observes that there is segmentation.

Attract her attention to abundance of South Indian movies on television channels and also in Hindi remakes, and the trend-setter of Indian cinema responds, “It appears that those making these movies like violence more. They show brutality lovingly. But, it stresses the point that only good intentions behind making a movie is not enough, there has to be decent presentation of a subject too.”

Of course, she has got her opinion on Hindi movies too. According to the award-winning film-maker, Hindi movies focus more on technical excellence and pomp and show, but not enough on the content. Still, she adds, some good Hindi movies are always made. So, does she believe that there is a difference marked by deterioration in quality of movies being made now and meaningful movies made in the era she represents? “There is no such thing as golden era. Every era has its own set of directors and film-makers who believe in quality. Even today, good movies are being made,” she replies.

Having seen changes in film-making, Sai Paranjpye has earned a great respect not only among critics but also among audiences. However, given the fact that no one reaches great heights without one’s own share of highs and lows. She also has got her highs and lows. Interestingly, both the moments are linked to her best film ‘Disha’, which she wrote over 17 years. She recalls fondly that ‘Disha’ had won the critics’ award and popular choice award both at the Cannes Festival. It was obviously the happiest moment for her when her daughter Veeni broke the news to her.

The most disappointing moment came in Sai Paranjpye’s life when not a single award was announced to ‘Disha’ in National Film Awards in India. “Obviously, we were disappointed. The movie won accolades and later it was bought by Italian academy, shown on television channels in various countries including Belgium, Australia, England etc. But, back in India, we won no national award,” she adds with a tinge of disappointment still palpable in her voice. Then, her team-members had advised her to lodge a complaint but she did not. For, she felt that if the team had sent the movie as an entry in a competition, jury’s decision had to be accepted. Was there lobbying? “Yes. There is lobbying for awards,” she rues.

Nonetheless, such moments of disappointment did not deter her from excelling in the art form of her volition. Even today, she feels that her biggest award and reward is the appreciation by someone showing his/her child the movies made by Sai Paranjpye. “It brings a lump to my throat. It is the biggest appreciation of my creativity,” says the actor-director known for her sensitivity.  Sai Paranjpye has continued her journey of creativity, setting milestones one after another. Recently, her autobiography ‘Say: Maza Kalaprawas’ was released and once again her fans realised her writing prowess. Truly, in her own words, “Creation is reward for having enjoyed the process of creativity.” And, the ‘Katha’ continues...