In her illustrious career as a filmmaker and screenwriter, Sai Paranjpye has won three National Film Awards and was awarded a Padma Bhushan in 2006. An alumnus of the National School of Drama, Sai started her career with AIR and has directed plays in Marathi, English, and Hindi. 

Her movies seamlessly bridged the gap between independent cinema and commercial potboilers, and always left the audience reeling with emotions. Without resorting to cliches or theatrics, her movies left an indelible impact on the audience. Movies like these: 

1. Sparsh

Starring Naseeruddin Shah and Deepti Naval as leads, Sparsh was Sai’s first feature film and showcased a love story between a visually impaired principal and a sighted teacher. The film won Sai her first National Film Award and is to date, remembered for its sensitive take on visual impairment and personal relationships. 

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2. Chashme Buddoor

A delightful romantic comedy, Chashme Buddoor is one of Sai’s most famous films that was even remade in 2013. Though no film could hold a handle to the original, which was characterized by Farooq Sheikh and Deepti Naval’s charming chemistry, and a genteel brand of humor.  


3. Katha

A musical satire, based on the famous story of the tortoise and the hare, Katha starred Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Shaikh, and Deepti Naval. It raised a question on how, the ‘right thing’ or in this case, the right person, may win at the end but is the long wait to winning worth it?


4. Disha

Starring Shabana Azmi, Nana Patekar and Om Puri in the lead roles, Disha talked about the plight of immigrant workers. 30 years after it released, the film remains relevant even today – and this is an unfortunate remark on society but, at the same time, also a testament to Sai’s skills as a filmmaker. 


5. Saaz

Starring Aruna Irani and Shabana Azmi in the lead roles, Saaz was rumored to be inspired by the lives of singers, Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. While the film focused on elements like sibling rivalry, professional jealousy, domestic abuse, etc., it also deserves credit for bringing to light what being a playback singer entails. 


6. Papeeha

Set against the backdrop of tribals saving forestland, Papeeha was a romantic drama starring stars Milind Gunaji, Winnie Paranjpe and Raghubir Yadav.

6. Angootha Chaap 

With a focus on India’s National Literacy Mission, Angootha Chaap is a delightful reminder of how, no one is ever too old to learn. 

Sai’s movies spread across various genres and took on different subjects, and yet, what remained constant was the nuanced simplicity she brought to her films – one that allowed the audience to actually understand the subject, rather than pass it off as being too frivolous or too serious.