Kalpana Lajmi was born in 1954 and is the niece of legendary director-actor Guru Dutt. Coming from a background which was steeped in intellectual pursuits, Kalpana Lajmi was associated with both English and Hindi theatre since a very early age. She started off as an assistant to directors like Shyam Benegal and also several documentaries, some of which were chosen as panorama entries.
Kalpana Lajmi directed her first film Ek Pal in 1985 with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Farooque Shaikh. She also produced and directed several television programs including Lohit Kinare and Dawn which enjoyed a fair bit of popularity.
Ek Pal enjoyed a great amount of critical success and even won a National Award for sound. Her second film came after considerable gap- Rudaali (1993). Her subsequent projects include Darmiyaan (1997), Daman (2001) and Chingaari (2006). She wrote all of the above films as well. She also produced Kyon? in 2003.
Rudaali (1993) consolidated her position as a director of sensitivity. Her association with music maestro Bhupen hazarika also resulted in soulful music for films like Rudaali (1993) and Darmiyaan (1997). Her debut as film producer, with Kyon? (2003), did not do well at the box office. Her last film- the Sushmita Sen starrer Chingaari (2006) also failed to garner box office returns.
Ek Pal won the National Award for sound. 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 as India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language film for the Academy Awards. Darmiyaan (1997) starring Kiron Kher and Arif Zakaria gave Kirron Kher a nomination for Best Actress at the National Awards.
Kalpana Lajmi has announced two projects- one is an untitled venture and the other is titled Mujhe Rang De (2008) starring Ishaa Kopikkar, Rahul Dev and Rituparna Sengupta.