Kalpana Lajmi has been associated with both English and Hindi theatre since a very early age. She started as an assistant to various leading directors of her time. She made several documentaries, some of which were chosen as panorama entries, and others which went on to become archival material.
Niece of great director-producer Guru Dutt, she directed her first film Ek Pal in 1985 with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Farooque Shaikh. The movie went on to win the National Award for the best creative sound. She also produced and directed several television programs including Lohit Kinare and Dawn which drew a wide viewership.
In 1993, her second film Rudaali went on to win over 30 national and international awards including the National Award, the Japanese International film festival award and the Damascus International film festival award for best actress to Dimple Kapadia. Rudaali was also nominated for the best foreign language Oscar.
Her next film in 1997 was Darmiyaan starring Tabu, Kiron Kher and Arif Zakaria. Besides being a critical and commercial success, National awards were becoming a habit with Kalpana and again with Darmiyaan, Kiron Kher got nominated for the National Award for best actress.
Kalpana Lajmi went on to make Daman; a film is based on marital rape, with Raveena Tandon and Marathi stage actor Sayaji Shinde in the lead. Some of her forthcoming projects are Mod and Chingari.