Aparna Sen

  • Actor, Director, Writer, Screenplay, Dialogue Writer

Oct 25, 1945  in Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Also Known as: Aparna Dasgupta

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A powerhouse performer, a prolific filmmaker and an articulate writer, Aparna Sen has redefined Bengali cinema with her films, which are both thought-provoking and empathic. She made her acting debut with Satyajit Ray's anthology film Teen Kanya in 1961 and has since immortalised several characters in acclaimed films like Aranyer Din Ratri (1970), Sagina (1974), Kotwal Saab (1977), Abhinoy Noy (1983), Ek Din Achanak (1990), Titli (2002) and Iti Mrinalini (2011).

In 1981, the actress donned the hat of a filmmaker and directed the Bengali drama film 36 Chowringhee Lane, which was produced by the veteran actor, Shashi Kapoor. For her debut film, Sen also bagged her debut National Film Award for Best Direction. Subsequently, she directed films like Paroma (1984), Sati (1989), Yugant (1995), Paromitar Ek Din (2000), Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2001), and 15 Park Avenue (2005). In 1987, the Government of India felicitated Aparna Sen with the Padma Shri, which is the fourth highest civilian award in the country.

Born in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India to the known filmmaker Chidananda Dasgupta, and famous Bengali costume designer, Supriya Dasgupta, Aparna Sen completed her schooling from Modern High School for Girls and attended Presidency College, from where she graduated in B.A. English.

Aparna Sen has been married thrice. Her first marriage to Sanjay Sen didn't last long. She was then hitched to journalist Mukul Sharma, with whom she has two daughters: Kamalini Sen and actress Konkona Sen Sharma. Aparna is currently married to Kalyan Ray, an English professor.

As an Actor
After appearing in Satyajit Ray's National Award winning anthology film Teen Kanya in 1961, Aparna Sen next featured in Mrinal Sen's drama Akash Kusum. The art-house movie starring Soumitra Chatterjee and Subhendu Chatterjee, along with Sen, went on to open to critical acclaim but failed commercially. In 1970, the actress was honored with her first Bengal Film Journalists' Association Award for Best Actress, for her portrayal of Sunita in Salil Dutta's film Aparachita (1969). Throughout the 1970s, and 1980s, she continued to work as a mainstream lead actress in Bengali cinema and her pairing with Soumitra Chatterjee was well-received by the audience. Her most notable work during that period came in movies like The Guru (1969), Sujata (1975), and Ekanto Apan (1988). For the latter two films, Aparna Sen bagged her second and third BAFJA Award for Best Actress.

In the 2000s, Aparna Sen was seen in various important supporting roles, with the most prominent being in the movie Antaheen (2009), which also starred Sharmila Tagore and Rahul Bose in the lead. Directed by Annirudh Roy-Chowdhary, this National Film Award-winning movie follows the story of four intertwined lives in the urban Indian society. She then starred in her own directorial Iti Mrinalini in 2011, and Srijit Mukherji's Chotushkone.

In 2017, Aparna starred alongside Shabana Azmi and Lillete Dubey in the drama film Sonata, which she also directed and was based on Mahesh Elkunchwar's play of the same name. Among the venerated actress' notable projects in recent times are Srijit Mukherji's Ek Je Chhilo Raja (2018) and Basu Paribar (2018), the latter of which marks Aparna's reunion with Soumitra Chatterjee after eighteen years.

As a Director & Writer
Aparna Sen made her debut as a writer-director with the Jennifer Kendal starrer 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981). Produced by Shashi Kapoor, the movie received immense critical acclaim and won Aparna her first National Film Award for Best Direction. After the successful launch as a filmmaker, Aparna Sen directed films like Paroma (1984), Yugant (1995), Paromitar Ek Din (2000), Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2001), and 15 Park Avenue (2005), all of which won National Awards, making Aparna one of the most successful directors of Bengali cinema, whose films resonated with a very niche audience, but still brought to light many societal and feminist issues. Mr. and Mrs. Iyer and 15 Park Avenue starred her daughter Konkona Sen Sharma in lead.

In 2010, she helmed the Raima Sen and Rahul Bose starrer romantic film The Japanese Wife. Following the love story of a young teacher with a Japanese pen-friend, the movie went on to be a huge success, critically, but commercially failed to attract the audience to the theater. In 2011, and 2013, Aparna Sen directed Iti Mrinalini and Goynar Baksho, respectively and also won Kalakar Awards-Best Director Award for the former. The romantic drama Arshinagar (2015), which was an adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, was the celebrated filmmaker's next venture. However, the film failed to impress both the critics and the audience alink. In 2017, she helmed the bilingual drama film Sonata, which was based on a play of the same name by Mahesh Elkunchwar and starred Shabana Azmi and Lillete Dubey alongside Aparna.