Aparna Sen Biography
Aparna Sen (née Dasgupta) (Bengali: অপর্ণা সেন Ôporna Shen) is a critically acclaimed Indian filmmaker, script writer, and actress. She is the winner of three National Film Awards and eight international film festival awards.
Aparna Sen was born in Calcutta to a Bengali family, originally from East Bengal. Her father is the veteran critic and film-maker Chidananda Dasgupta. Her mother Supriya Dasgupta is the cousin of renowned Bengali poet Jibanananda Das. She spent her childhood in Hazaribagh and Kolkata and had her schooling initially in South Point and later mostly in Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata.
She studied her Ba, English honors in Presidency College, Calcutta but did not complete the degree.
She met the Magnum photographer, Brian Brake, in Kolkata in 1961 when he was visiting India to photograph his Monsoon series. Brake used Sen as the model for what was to become one of his most well known photographs - a shot of a girl holding her face to the first drops of monsoon rain. The photo shoot was set up on a Kolkata rooftop with a ladder and a watering can. Sen described the shoot:
He took me up to the terrace, had me wear a red sari in the way a village girl does, and asked me to wear a green stud in my nose. To be helpful, I said let me wear a red one to match, and he said no - he was so decisive, rather brusque - I think a green one. It was stuck to my nose with glue, because my nose wasn't pierced. Someone had a large watering can, and they poured water over me. It was really a very simple affair. It took maybe half an hour.
Sen made her film debut at the age of 16, when she played the role of Mrinmoyee in the Samapti portion of the 1961 film Teen Kanya (Three Daughters) directed by Satyajit Ray (who was a long time friend of her father's). She then studied at Kolkata's Presidency College.
Later in life she would work with Satyajit Ray in several of his films, including the short Pikoo (1981) where she played the role of an adulterous wife and mother.
In 1965, Sen resumed her film career in Mrinal Sen's Akash Kusum which was later remade into a Hindi film Manzil starring Amitabh Bachchan and Moushumi Chatterjee. From then until the end of the 1970s, she worked steadily in the Bengali film industry, as leading heroine of the time. She acted in a number of Hindi films as well during this time including Imaan Dharam (1977) with Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar and Rekha.
In 1969, Sen appeared in The Guru, an English-language feature by Merchant Ivory Productions. She would make two more films with Merchant-Ivory, Bombay Talkie (1970), and Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures (1978).
In 2009, Sen appeared with Sharmila Tagore and Rahul Bose in Annirudh Roy-Chowdhary's Bengali film Antaheen. The film went on to win four National Awards.
Aparna as director
In 1981, Sen made her debut as a film director with 36 Chowringhee Lane. She also wrote its screenplay. The film, about an aged Anglo-Indian teacher living in Calcutta, won positive reviews from critics. For her debut feature, Sen won the Best Director award at the Indian National Film Awards. 36 Chowringhee Lane also won the Grand Prix (the Golden Eagle) at the Manila International Film Festival.
She followed up this early success with several other films, notably Paroma (1984), Sati (1989) and Yugant (1995). These examined the feminine condition in modern-day India from different perspectives. She also starred in Unishe April (1994), the film by Bengali cinema's Rituparno Ghosh.
Sen's next directorial effort Paromitar Ek Din (2000) was a critical hit and recalled the success of her first film. The film explored the relationship between a divorced woman (Rituparna Sengupta) and her mother-in-law, played by Aparna herself. It won a number of awards on the international festival circuit.
Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002), was a love story set against the harsh backdrop of Hindu-Muslim sectarian violence in India. The film won a National Film Award for Sen's direction, and an acting award for Konkona Sen Sharma, the director's daughter. The film won more awards at the Locarno, Hawaii and Manila film festivals.
15, Park Avenue (2005) starred her daughter and the actors Shabana Azmi, Dhritiman Chaterji, Waheeda Rehman, Rahul Bose and Soumitra Chatterjee. The film deals with a girl (Konkona Sen Sharma) who is a schizophrenic and her relations with her elder stepsister, played by Shabana Azmi.
Her next film named The Japanese Wife (2008), stars Raima Sen, Rahul Bose and a Japanese actress. This film focuses on two women. It is based on a short story by West Bengal author Kunal Basu.
Aparna has made selective films and in the last 28 years, she has made only seven films.
In 2009, Sen announced her next Bengali film Iti Mrinalini, which stars Konkona Sen Sharma, Aparna Sen, Rajat Kapoor, Koushik Sen, and Priyanshu Chatterjee. Sen's last Bengali film was Paromitar Ek Din (2000). First-time screenwriter Ranjan Ghosh co-authored Iti Mrinalini with Aparna Sen. The film is in post-production and is slated for release in early 2010.
Sen has been married three times. Her first marriage, to Sanjay Sen, was when she was quite young. Her second husband was the science writer and journalist, Mukul Sharma. They later divorced amicably. Sen is presently married to Kalyan Ray, an author and professor of English who teaches at County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey, in the United States. She has two daughters, Kamalini and Konkona—who is also an actress—and two grandchildren.
In 2008, Sen was elected into the International Jury of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The highly credentialed Jury, headed by a president of international distinction, determine winners from all nominations in each award category.
From 1986 to 2005, Sen was editor of the fortnightly Sananda, a Bengali women's magazine (published by the Ananda Bazar Patrika group) that enjoys equal popularity in West Bengal and Bangladesh. From November 2005 to December 2006, she was associated with the Bengali 24x7 infotainment channel Kolkata TV as Creative Director.
In 1986, the then-President of India bestowed the Padma Shri to Sen in recognition of her contribution to Indian cinema. Since then, she has received several lifetime achievement awards, and served on juries at film festivals around the world.