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A Little Bit of Storytelling: The Life and Work of Sai Paranjpye

Take a brief glimpse at the life and work of Sai Paranjpye, an Indian filmmaker and writer, who merged mainstream and parallel cinema.



Sai Paranjpye

A prolific writer and filmmaker, who, over the many decades of her life, has managed to merge the distinct lines between mainstream and parallel cinema, Sai Paranjpye stands tall amongst the many legendary figures of Indian Cinema. Her body of work has not only been a focal point for addressing critical social issues but also paved a path for later generations of filmmakers to include ideas of social and cultural relevance in their work. Indeed, it is a point of fact that Paranjpye’s work was also a contributing factor to the perpetuation of regional Indian cinema at the time, helping it not only gain recognition in mainstream circles but also flourish without compromising on its core themes and philosophy.

Born, in 1938, to a Russian father and an Indian mother, Paranjpye’s parents divorced shortly after her birth and she was raised in her maternal grandfather’s household, R.P. Paranjpye, a noted mathematician and educationist who served as India’s High Commissioner in Australia from 1944 to 1947. It was a fortunate turn of fate that Paranjpye was born to a family who were already involved in the world of cinema. Her mother, Shakuntala Paranjpye, was a renowned actress in her own right, working alongside the likes of celebrated filmmakers such as V. Shantaram. Paranjpye’s uncle, Achyut Ranade, was also a noted filmmaker in the ’40s and ’50s and he played a crucial role in nurturing Paranjpye’s passion for storytelling and filmmaking. As a child, she would often visit her uncle’s house who would share stories with her, conveying them in the format of a screenplay. This would mark her first exposure to the world of cinema and the wonders of storytelling.

Amit Paranjape on Twitter: "Happy 82nd birthday to the amazing Sai Paranjpye!…  "
Credit: Google Images (Sai Paranjpye)

Beginning her career as an announcer at All India Radio (AIR), Paranjpye would soon go on to get involved with the Children’s Program at AIR.

Over a gradual period of time Paranjpye has written and directed numerous plays, for adults and children alike, in both English and other regional languages. Her directorial debut came with ‘The Little Tea Shop’, a movie released directly to television in 1972. It went on to win the Asian Broadcasting Union Award at Teheran. Eight years later, she released her first feature film, ‘Sparsh’, which was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards, including the National Film Award. Following that, she went on to direct the comedies ‘Chashme Buddoor’ and ‘Katha’. Paranjpye’s other works include ‘Angootha Chhap’ (1988), a film aimed at the National Literacy Mission, ‘Disha’ (1990), which discussed the issue that immigrant workers faced in the country and ‘Chaka Chak’ (2005), a movie that was aimed at raising awareness about the myriad environmental issues we face.

Sai Paranjpye's Sparsh (1980): Rethinking education for the differently  abled
Credit: Google Images (A still from Paranjpye’s film, ‘Sparsh‘)

Paranjpye’s most noted work was, perhaps, her 1993 documentary, titled ‘Choodiyan’, which examined the anti-liquor agitation in a village in Maharashtra. ‘Choodiyan’ was awarded the National Award for Best Film on Social Issues. Additionally, Paranpye released ‘Suee’, a documentary which explores the lives of drug users, touching on the treatment, care and community support that they receive. ‘Suee’ was aired on Doordashan in December of 2009, as part of its campaign to raise awareness about AIDS.  In 2006, Paranjpye was awarded the Padma Bhushan, in recognition of her immense contribution to Indian Cinema.

Paranjpye’s lifetime has borne witness to an extensive body of work, one that is marked by the idea of delivering meaningful ideas and content in the format of entertaining cinema and also creating a culture of an audience that is aware about the relevant socio-cultural issues that we face as a society. 

Through her work, Sai Paranjpye has cultured an idea of meaningful storytelling, one that is punctuated by her own strength and core ideas but also a larger idea of doing better, of being better as a collective.

Sai Paranjpye on her memoir A Patchwork Quilt: 'I guess I was born with a  grin'
Credit: Google Images (Sai Paranjpye)
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Majrooh Sultanpuri: The Celebrated Poet and Lyricist of a Lyrical Versatility

Remembering Majrooh Sultanpuri, the revolutionary Urdu poet and lyricist behind innumerable classics of Hindi cinema.



Majrooh Sultanpuri

A large number of Bollywood classics are owed to one man’s words alone–– Majrooh Sultanpuri, one of the finest lyricists of 20th-century Hindi cinema. Songs like ‘Hum hain rahi pyaar ke hum se kuch na boliye’, ‘O Hasina Zulfon Wali’, ‘Chhod Do Aanchal’, ‘Pehla Nasha’ are some among a number of lyrics penned by Sultanpuri which are still hummed today. However, they barely scratch the surface of his six-decade-long career in the film industry, let alone his remarkable poeticism and revolutionary ideals. 

Main akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil magar

Log saath aate gaye aur karvan banta gaya

(I set out towards my destination all alone but people began to come along and a caravan was formed.)

Asar ul Hasan was born in 1919 in Uttar Pradesh of pre-Independent India. While he began writing poetry early, Hasan became Majrooh, meaning ‘the wounded’, after the suggestion of his friends. Young Majrooh went on to study Unani medicine to become a physician, but life for him had its own plans. 

It was during this time that he recited a ghazal at a mushaira which was so well received that he decided to drop out of medical practice and pursue writing poetry. His talent had caught the attention of the top Urdu poet of the time, Jigar Moradabadi. Morabadi was to play a part in shaping Majrooh Sultanpuri’s name as the famous lyricist he was to become. In 1945, Moradabadi took Majrooh to perform at a mushaira in Bombay. There, sitting among the impressed audience was the film producer A. R. Kardar. It was Moradabadi who made the two meet. And later, he persuaded Majrooh, who initially wasn’t very keen on working in Bollywood, to write songs for films. And so began Majrooh Sultanpuri’s career in cinema with ‘Shahjehan’ in 1946. 

Sutoon-e-daar par rakhte chalo saron ke chiragh

Jahan talak ye sitam ki siyaah raat chale

(March ahead while placing the lamps of our heads on the opening of wounds till the dark night of oppression lasts.)

Majrooh’s creative career in the film industry spanned over six decades during which he wrote over two thousand songs. Despite this, he didn’t hold this work in the highest of regards, because Majrooh Sultanpuri was a poet first and last. He wrote some fifty ghazals and was part of the Progressive Writers Association. A staunch leftist, his Urdu poetry was revolutionary in transcending romantic themes to render its lyricism from a political lens. He had even spent two years in jail after being arrested in 1951 for reciting a poem critical of Nehru. 

Hum ko junoon kya sikhlate ho, hum the pareshan tumse zyada

Chaak kiye hain ham ne azizon chaar gareban tum se ziyada

The versatile creativity of Majrooh Sultanpuri is instantly visible in his illustrious career. He became the first lyricist to be awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1993. He breathed his last on 24 May 2000, bringing an end to a long life devoted to writing beautiful, timeless compositions. 

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C. K. Nagaraja Rao: The First Recipient of the Moortidevi Award

Commemorating Kannada writer, dramatist, director, and activist, C. K. Nagaraja Rao, on his birth anniversary.



C. K. Nagaraja Rao

In 1977, a monumental novel spanning four volumes was published about Shantala Devi, a Queen of the Hoysala Dynasty of 12th century Karnataka. The Kannada work was produced by C. K. Nagaraja Rao, titled “Pattamahadevi Shantaladevi”. It earned him the ‘Best Creative Literary Work’ award by the Karnataka Sahitya Academy in 1978. And later, he also became the first recipient of the Moortidevi Award in the year 1983 for this magnum opus. 

C. K. Nagaraja Rao was born on June 12, 1915, in Challakere, Chitradurga district of Karnataka. He wrote a short story that won him a school competition and was to be the beginning of his literary career. And he owed his spirit of activism to his Uncle and his interaction with Mahatma Gandhi when he waited upon him on his visit to Nandi Hills, near Bangalore. He was also close to his uncle, Justice Nittoor Srinivasa Rao, who was a participant in India’s Independence struggle and served as Chief justice of Karnataka High Court in 1961. 

While Nagaraja Rao had an inherent interest in the heritage and history of Karnataka, it became stronger when he became the secretary of the Kannada Sahitya Parishath. It allowed him to interact and work with many leading writers of the time. Rao’s writing began with research. He published a number of papers and research works, delving into the history and heritage of the state. It was also this research that led him to write Pattamahadevi Shantaladevi, his masterwork.

Nagaraja Rao also wrote and directed a number of plays. He formed his own ensemble called United artists in Bangalore, and even created his own style of makeup for the stage. He also acted in and produced radio plays in association with All India Radio, Bangalore. 

C. K. Nagaraja Rao produced a rich body of work, all inspired by the ideas that he believed in. His research and writings were the very embodiment of his own value of the culture, history,  and heritage of Karnataka. 

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Giving Back To Our Home: World Environment Day

On this World Environment Day, watch these incredible documentaries that will help you reflect on the issues that our planet faces today.



World Environment Day

There is a lot to talk about when we talk about the world. Politics, culture, food. But there are so few of us, as a collective, talking about the environment. We understand the issues, of course. A majority of us even agree with them. The problem comes with retaining interest in the cause, which is ironic seeing that it is probably the most important cause worth striving for. On this World Environment Day, pause for a brief moment and take the time to reflect on the problems that we, as humans, are causing around the world. After all, it’s the only home we have.

To help you along, we bring you these thought provoking documentaries, all based around discussing the issues and hindrances that the world faces today.

Sir David Attenborough explains the process of it all. ‘How to Save Our Planet’ is an examination of how mankind’s survival has come from being determined by nature to nature’s survival being determined by mankind. We, as a species, have come so far from our earliest days of inception that we stand today as the most powerful and influential collective. It is, then, our sole responsibility to take all this power, that we possess, and direct it towards solving the problems that we are causing. Sir David Attenborough, in ‘How to Save Our Planet, explains how it is actually simple to save the planet. The idea is to make certain that ‘everything we can do, we can do forever’. This basic thought is the key to saving our home and Sir David Attenborough lays down a four-step process of achieving this goal.

Credit: YouTube (WWF International)

‘Our Planet-Something Worth Protecting’ is a documentary of beautiful visuals, one that shows you what will go missing if we don’t act soon enough. Inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s speech, ‘Arucanari-Short Films’ has put together this incredible compilation of clips that, together, portrays the beauty of the planet we live on. The documentary is not as much a showcase of the natural wonders of the world as it is a reminder of what we are now slowly erasing with our actions. With a poised musical background, ‘Our Planet’ will have you questioning the impact of our actions on this World Environment Day.

Credit: YouTube (Arucanari-Short Films)

‘One Earth’ is a silent documentary, relying on nothing but visual imagery. What starts off with wondrous shots of nature in all its beauty devolves into the reality that we, as mankind, are helping bring about. Deforestation, Global Air Pollution, the desecration of marine life, everything that ‘One Earth’ shows you, you know already. It’s just that we haven’t truly sat down to consider the scope of it all. How a single crushed plastic bottle can add to the already existing heaps of waste we have already produced. ‘One Earth’ may be a silent documentary, but it asks you the most important question, “How much more can Earth take?”

Credit: YouTube (Roman Pennes)

Take the time today to think about what we need to give back to our home. We hope this World Environment Day turns out a little different for all of us than the ones before.

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The First Jnanpith Awardee: G. Sankara Kurup

On his birth anniversary, we remember one of the most significant poets of Malayalam Literature, G. Sankara Kurup, and his mystifying poems.



G. Sankara Kurup

G. Sankara Kurup, fondly known as Mahakavi G, lived and wrote during times of national upheavals. He was a witness to India’s struggle for Independence, the dawn of its freedom, and its aftermath. One of the most prominent writers of Malayalam literature, his poems clad in beautiful metaphors were unique in style, themes, and the emotions they chose to depict. 

Born on June 3, 1901, in a village in the Kingdom of Cochin (now in Kerala), he started working as a teacher at a secondary school in 1921. He had published his first poem only two years before, while still a student, called ‘Salutation to Nature’ about a young girl who draws and redraws a rainbow. In an interview, he admitted how this poem was his personal reaction to that seemingly natural phenomena. He called it an expression of his fascination with nature, something that would stick with him throughout his career. 

These tiny moments!

Before me they come 

And behind vanish

With lightning-surpassing speed. 

These tiny moments,

Each, unique, varied! 


G. Sankara Kurup would go on to produce twenty-five collections of poetry to his name. It was his 1950 collection called Odakkuzhal (The Bamboo Flute) for which he won the first Jnanpith Award in 1965. Apart from that, he also contributed several plays and essays to Malayalam Literature. His keenness to learn and know more had led him to study not just English, but also Sanskrit and Hindi, and it was only after he was in his 60s that he began learning Bengali. As a reader, he had been impressed by Tagore’s writings, and as a writer, he was influenced by him. He would come to translate Gitanjali in Malayalam in 1959 while having previously produced translations of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat and Meghaduta of Kalidas. 

While his poetry is mostly recognised for its mysticism and occupation with the universe and nature such as in ‘Cosmic Vision’ or ‘Ode to the Ocean’; he was also a poet of his time and also the past. Some of his poems drew on history to paint vivid images, like ‘Singing Stones’ or ‘Dreams of History’, while others like ‘The Throbbing Pyre’ or ‘Old Carpenter’ deal with the joys and pains born in day-to-day life. However, one thing that runs common in all of these compositions is the individuality of his expression. 

Divine Singer of the world,

Intoxicator of minds, 

You deign to live 

In me as music;

How else would I dare

Sing songs of life

In joyous abandon. 

The Bamboo Flute

Interestingly, he had also been the hand behind the lyrics for the first Malayalam film to have used music and songs in 1948, called Nirmala. G. Sankara Kurup became a recipient of Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry in 1961, and of Padma Bhushan in 1968. The great poet, essayist, translator, and literary critic breathed his last in 1978, leaving behind his rich contributions to Malayalam literature. 

I feel a little better today, 

But how long shall I lie 

Coiled here?… 

What is the use of wishing for things? 

I cannot even sink the same edge of my chisel into any wood any more. 

The Old Carpenter 
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Throwback Thursday with Hindi Literature’s Poet of Nature: Sumitranandan Pant

Remembering Sumitranandan Pant on his birth anniversary, India’s preeminent writer and the first awardee of Jnanpith for Hindi poetry.



Sumitranandan Pant

In Uttarakhand’s Almora District, Sumitranandan Pant was born on May 20th, 1900. An old interview from the archives of DD finds him saying, “Saundarya toh Himachal ke aanchal mai peda hoke mere ghar ka mehmaan raha”. Spending his early life amid scenic outdoors and hills became the genesis of his eternal appreciation of nature. And in writing about his reflections on this beauty of the world did he find his love for poetry. He began penning down songs and poems at the age of seven, a practice he continued throughout his life. Fixing twenty-eight published works of poetry, essays, and plays to his name, he ended up earning several accolades for them. He was the first Hindi poet to be awarded the Jnanpith, and also the Sahitya Akadami and Padma Bhushan. 

“ज्ञानी बनकर मत नीरस उपदेश दीजिए,

लोक कर्म भव सत्य प्रथम सत्कर्म कीजिए |”

The romanticism that had flourished in 19th century western literature found an evolved revival in India under the ‘Chhayavvadi’ school of Hindi literature. One of the four pioneers of this ‘neo-romanticism’ was Pant, who earned himself the sobriquet of being the Wordsworth of Hindi poetry. Along with reading the works of romantic poets, Pant was considerably influenced by the works of Tagore, Naidu, and Aurobindo. 

He never married, but a lot of his poetry spoke of his reflections on love, companionship, and the relationship between men and women. In that same interview, you may hear him saying, “Mahila ki sundarta uski bhavna mein hai, na ki uske sharir mai”

“यदि स्वर्ग कहीं है पृथ्वीपर, तो वह नारीउर के भीतर

दल पर दल खोल हृदयके अस्तर

जब बिठलाती प्रसन्न होकर

वह अमर प्रणयके शतदलपर |”

Pant went to Kashi in order to pursue his higher education after his schooling from Almora, but decided to drop out to participate in the Satyagraha movement. This social and political consciousness found its way into his poetry too, with many verses dedicated to Gandhi and subtle Marxist ideals. This was how his writing became a proponent of progessive poetry. “Shreni varg mein manav nahi vibhajit, Dhan bal se ho jahan na jan shram shoshan” goes a line in one of his verses. 

Sumitranandan Pant died of a heart attack in 1977, leaving behind his indispensable contributions to Hindi poetry. Many foundations of his persona were formed in his childhood. From his name, (Gosain Dutt that he changed in school to honour Lakshman’s mother Sumitra from Ramayana) to his hairstyle (influenced by French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte) and of course, the endless habit of relishing life and poetry. And that’s how we remember him, and so he remains immortalized in history.

झर पड़ता जीवन-डाली से

मैं पतझड़ का-सा जीर्ण-पात !

केवल, केवल जग-कानन में

लाने फिर से मधु का प्रभात !

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“Why be biased to complexions?” Aranya Johar Questions the Society

MUSIC4 years ago

Acoustic Version of Tere Mere Song by Dhvani Bhanushali

SHORT FILMS4 years ago

Tere Jaisa Yaar Kahan : A Tale of Two Best Friends

MUSIC4 years ago

“Naino Se”: An Orginal Composition by Pushpendra Barman

Tere Mere by Saloni Rai
MUSIC4 years ago

‘Tere Mere’ Female Cover by a Young Singer from Haryana, Saloni Rai

Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar
EDITOR'S PICK4 years ago

Don’t Judge People on Skin Colour, Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar

Knox Artiste
MUSIC4 years ago

14 Songs on 1 Beat Ft. Knox Artiste

EDITOR'S PICK4 years ago

De Taali Nehraji Ft Ashish Nehra: Breakfast With Champions

POETRY4 years ago

To India: With Love by Aranya Johar


Shiamak Davar’s Choreography of Despacito Ft. Justin Bieber


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