Aparna Sen

Aparna Sen (née Dasgupta, Ôporna Shen; born 25 October 1945) is an Indian filmmaker, screenwriter and actress who is known for her work in Bengali cinema. A leading actress of the late 1960s and 1970s she has received eight BFJA Awards, five for best actress, two for best supporting actress and one for lifetime achievement. She is the winner of nine National Film Awards and nine international film festival awards for her direction in films. She was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, by the government of India in 1987.

অপর্না সেন (Aparna Sen)
Sen during the 38th International Kolkata Book Fair (2014)
Native name
অপর্ণা সেন
Aparna Dasgupta

(1945-10-25) 25 October 1945
  • Actress
  • Film director
  • Screenwriter
Spouse(s)Sanjay Sen
Mukul Sharma
Kalyan Ray
AwardsFull list

Sen made her debut in Teen Kanya (1961) and received her success with Aparichito (1969). She went on to establish herself as a leading actress of Bengali Cinema with the films Aranyer Din Ratri (1970), Ekhane Pinjar (1971), Ekhoni (1971), Jay Jayanti (1971), Memshaheb (1972), Jiban Saikate (1972), Basanta Bilap (1973), Sonar Khancha (1973), Sujata (1974), Alor Thikana (1974), Kajallata (1975), Raag Anuraag (1975), Jana Aranya (1976), Ajasra Dhanyobad (1977), Proxy (1977 film)|Proxy (1977), Mohonar Dike (1984), Ekanto Apon (1987), Swet Patharer Thala (1992). She also garnered critical acclaim for her work in Indira (1984 film)|Indira (1984), Kari Diye Kinlam (1989), Ek Din Achanak (1999), Mahaprithibi (1991), Unishe April (1995), Paromitar Ek Din (2000), Titli (2001), Antaheen (2009), Chatushkon (2014).

In addition to acting in films, Aparna Sen has also been directing films since 1981, starting with 36 Chowringhee Lane for which she won National Film Award (India) for Best Director. She went on to achieve further success in direction with films Paroma, Sati, Yugant, Paromitar Ek Din, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, 15 Park Avenue, The Japanese Wife, Iti Mrinalini, Goynar Baksho. She won her second National Film Award as a director for Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.

Early life and education

Sen was born in a Bengali family, originally from Cox's Bazar in Chittagong District (now in Bangladesh). Her father was the veteran critic and filmmaker Chidananda Dasgupta. Her mother Supriya Dasgupta was a costume designer and earned the National Film Award for Best Costume Design for Chidananda's directorial venture Amodini (1995), at the age of 73. Sen is a relative of Bengali poet Jibanananda Das.[1] Sen spent her childhood in Hazaribagh and Kolkata and had her schooling at Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata, India. She studied for her B.A. in English at Presidency College, but did not complete the degree.[2]



Sen made her film debut at the age of 15, when she played the role of Mrinmoyee in the Samapti portion of the 1961 film Teen Kanya (Three Daughters) directed by Satyajit Ray (who was a longtime friend of her father's). She then studied at Kolkata's Presidency College.

At fifteen she was photographed by Brian Brake for the well-known photo from his 1960 "Monsoon" series of photographs; the photo appeared on the cover of Life.[3]

Later in life she would work with Satyajit Ray in several of his films, including the short Pikoo (1981) where she played the role of an adulterous wife and mother.

In 1965, Sen resumed her film career in Mrinal Sen's Akash Kusum, which was later remade into a Hindi film Manzil starring Amitabh Bachchan and Moushumi Chatterjee. Later she also brought out the different nuances of a widow in Mrinal Sen's Mahaprithibi for which she was awarded the prize for Best Actress at the Moscow Film Festival. . From then until the end of the 1970s, she worked steadily in the Bengali film industry, as a leading heroine of the time. She acted in a few Hindi films as well during this time, including Imaan Dharam (1977) with Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar and Rekha. Sen was successful in mainstream Bengali films. Her chemistry with Soumitra Chatterjee in films such as Basanta Bilap, Baksa Badal and Chhutir Phande was loved as much as her work with Uttam Kumar in films like Joy Jayanti, Memshaheb and Alor Thikana.

In 1969, Sen appeared in The Guru, an English-language feature by Merchant Ivory Productions. She would make two more films with Merchant-Ivory, Bombay Talkie (1970), and Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures (1978).

In 2009, Sen appeared with Sharmila Tagore and Rahul Bose in Annirudh Roy-Chowdhary's Bengali film Antaheen. The film went on to win four National Film Awards.[4]


In 1981, Sen made her debut as a film director with 36 Chowringhee Lane. She also wrote its screenplay. The film, about an aged Anglo-Indian teacher living in Calcutta, won positive reviews from critics. For her debut feature, Sen won the Best Director award at the Indian National Film Awards. 36 Chowringhee Lane also won the Grand Prix (the Golden Eagle) at the Manila International Film Festival.

She followed up this early success with several other films, notably Paroma (1984) winning the Silver Lotus at the National Awards for Best Bengali Film, Sati (1989), which won the National Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Yugant (1995), which won the National Award for Best Bengali Film. Paroma examined the feminine condition in modern-day India from different perspectives. She also starred in Unishe April (1994), the film by Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh.

Sen's next directorial effort Paromitar Ek Din (2000) was a critical hit and recalled the success of her first film. The film explored the relationship between a divorced woman (Rituparna Sengupta) and her mother-in-law, played by Sen herself. It won a number of awards on the international festival circuit and the National Award for Best Bengali Films.

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) was a love story set against the harsh backdrop of Hindu-Muslim sectarian violence in India. The film won a National Film Award for Sen's direction, and an acting award for Konkona Sen Sharma, the director's daughter. The film won more awards at the Locarno, Hawaii and Manila film festivals.

15, Park Avenue (2005) starred her daughter and the actors Shabana Azmi, Dhritiman Chaterji, Waheeda Rehman, Rahul Bose and Soumitra Chatterjee. The film deals with a girl (Konkona Sen Sharma) who is a schizophrenic and her relations with her elder stepsister, played by Shabana Azmi. It won the National Award for Best English Film.

Aparna Sen's next film, The Japanese Wife (2010), starred Raima Sen, Rahul Bose and Chigusa Takaku. This film focuses on two women and is based on a short story by West Bengal author Kunal Basu. The Hidden Gems Film Festival (HGFF) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada screened the 2010 film, The Japanese Wife, on Sunday, October 24, 2010. HGFF awarded Aparna Sen its Ammonite Award for Best Director that year. The Japanese Wife also won the Audience Award at the Kerala film Festival.

In 2009, Sen announced her next Bengali film Iti Mrinalini, which starred Konkona Sen Sharma, Aparna Sen, Rajat Kapoor, Kaushik Sen, and Priyanshu Chatterjee. First-time screenwriter Ranjan Ghosh co-authored Iti Mrinalini. This was the first time that Sen collaborated with any film writer or became attached to the curriculum of a film institute. The screenplay of Iti Mrinalini was an assignment in the Screenwriting syllabus at the Mumbai-based film school Whistling Woods International.[5] It was also a major first in Indian screenwriting, as the first time that any screenplay from an Indian film institute was actually filmed.[6] The film was released on 29 July 2011.

In 2013, her film Goynar Baksho (The Jewellery Box) was released depicting three generations of women and their relationship to a box of jewels. It ran to packed houses and won critical acclaim from reviewers and critics.[7] Thereafter, in 2015, Arshinagar, an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet was released.[8]

Sen directed her first - and, to date, only - Hindi film Saari Raat in 2015. Based on a play by Badal Sircar and starring Konkona Sen Sharma, the film premiered at the London International Film Festival.

In 2017, Sonata—an English film written and directed by Sen—was released. Adapted from a play by Mahesh Elkunchwar, the film examines the life of three middle-aged unmarried friends played by Aparna Sen, Shabana Azmi and Lillete Dubey.[9]

Sen has made selective films and, in a directorial career spanning more than three decades, she has made only thirteen feature films and one telefilm (Picnic, 1989).

Personal life

Sen has been married three times. Her first marriage, to Sanjay Sen, was when she was young. Her second husband was the science writer and journalist, Mukul Sharma. They later divorced. Sen is presently married to Kalyan Ray, an author and professor of English who teaches at County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey, US. She has two daughters, Kamalini and Konkona — who is also an actress.


  • Padma Shri - the fourth highest civilian award by the Government of India in 1987.
  • BFJA Award-Best Actress Award for Aparachito in 1970
  • BFJA Award-Best Actress Award for Sujata in 1975
  • BFJA Award-Best Actress Award for Ekanto Apan in 1988
  • BFJA Award-Best Actress Award for Swet Patharer Thala in 1993
  • BFJA Award-Best Actress Award for Paramitar Ek Din in 2001
  • BFJA Award-Best Supporting Actress Award for Mahaprithibi in 1992
  • BFJA Award-Best Supporting Actress Award for Abhishapta Prem in 1997
  • BFJA Award-Life Time Achievement Award in 2013
  • Anandalok Award-Best Actress in 2001
  • Anandalok Award-Best Actress for "Titlee" in 2002
  • Kalakar Award-Best Actress (Stage) Award for Bhalo Kharab Meye in 1993
  • Ammonite Award for Best Director- Hidden Gems Film Festival (HGFF) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2010 [for The Japanese Wife]
  • Kalakar Award-Best Director Award for Iti Mrinalini in 2012
  • Washington D C South Asian Film Festival-Life Time Achievement Award in 2015


Sen has served on juries at film festivals around the world. In 1989 she was a member of the jury at the 16th Moscow International Film Festival.[10] In 2008, she was elected into the International Jury of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. In 2013, she headed the jury of the second Ladakh International Film Festival.[11]

From 1986 to 2005, Sen was the editor of the fortnightly Sananda, a Bengali women's magazine (published by the Ananda Bazar Patrika group) that enjoys equal popularity in West Bengal and Bangladesh. From November 2005 to December 2006, she was associated with the Bengali 24x7 infotainment channel Kolkata TV as Creative Director. In 2011 she took charge as the editor of the magazine Paroma launched by the Saradha Group.[12] Following the Saradha Group financial scandal, Paroma ran into trouble. It finally closed down on 14 April 2013. Sen and her editorial team launched a new magazine called Prathama Ekhon, which was short-lived.[13]

In 1987, the then President of India, Giani Zail Singh bestowed the Padma Shri on Sen in recognition of her contribution to Indian cinema. Since then, she has received several lifetime achievement awards.



1955 Mejo Bou
1961 Teen Kanya Mrinmoyee "Samapti" segment
1965 Akash Kusum Monica
Baksa Badal Minu
1968 Hangsa-Mithun
1969 Vishwas
The Guru Ghazala
Aparichito Sunita
1970 Padmagolap
Aranyer Din Ratri Hari's former lover
Kalankita Nayak
Bombay Talkie Mala
1971 Khunjey Berai
Ekhane Pinjar
Jay Jayanti Jayanti
1972 Nayikar Bhumikay
Jiban Saikate
1973 Ali Baba (Animated film) Marjina
Shesh Pristhay Dekhun
Epaar Opaar
Bilet Pherat
Nakal Sona
Sonar Khancha
Kaya Hiner Kahini
Basanta Bilap Anuradha
Rater Rajanigandha
1974 Sujata
Jadu Bansha
Alor Thikana
Sagina Secretary Vishaka Devi
1975 Kajallata
Chhutir Phande
Raag Anurag
1976 Jana Aranya Somnath's ex-girlfriend
Nidhiram Sardar
1977 Immaan Dharam Shyamlee
Ajasra Dhanyabad
Kotwal Saab

Hullabaloo Ovrer Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures

1979 Naukadubi Kamala
1981 Thee Anita Tamil remake of Deewaar starring Rajinikanth & Suman
Bandi Balaka
1982 Bijoyini
Amrita Kumbher Sandhane
1983 Bishabriksha Suryamukhi
Abhinoy Noy
Indira Indira
1984 Paroma Sheela
Mohanar Dike
1985 Neelkantha
1986 Shyam Saheb
1987 Debika
Ekanta Apan
Jar Jey Priyo
1989 Kari Diye Kinlam
1990 Ek Din Achanak Professor's student
1991 Mahaprithibi Daughter-in-law
1992 Shwet Patharer Thala Bandana
1995 Amodini
1996 Unishe April Sarojini
Abhishapta Prem
2000 Paromitar Ek Din Sanaka
Ghaath Suman Pandey
2002 Titli Urmila
2009 Antaheen Paromita
2011 Iti Mrinalini Old Mrinalini Mitra aka Mili
2014 Chotushkone Trina Sen
2018 Ek Je Chhilo Raja Anupama Basu

Writer and director

1981 36 Chowringhee Lane English, Bengali Won, National Film Award for Best Direction
Won, National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English
1984 Paroma Bengali Won, National Film Awards, BFJA Award for best Director.
1989 Sati Bengali Released: 23 November 1989
1995 Yugant Bengali Won, National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali
2000 Paromitar Ek Din Bengali Won, National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali,
Won, Kalakar Awards for Best Director.
2002 Mr. and Mrs. Iyer English Won, National Film Award for Best Direction
Won, Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration
Won, National Film Award for Best Screenplay
2005 15 Park Avenue English Won, National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English
2010 The Japanese Wife English, Bengali, Japanese Released: 9 April 2010[14]
2011 Iti Mrinalini Bengali Won-Kalakar Awards-Best Director Award
2013 Goynar Baksho Bengali Nominated, Filmfare Awards East for Best Director
2015 Saari Raat Hindi Premiered at the London Film Festival, 2015
2015 Arshinagar Bengali Released: 25 December 2015
2017 Sonata English and Hindi Released: 21 April 2017
2019 Ghawre Bairey Aaj Bengali Released: 15 November 2019


  • Parama and other outsiders: the cinema of Aparna Sen, by Shoma A. Chatterji. Parumita Publications, 2002. ISBN 81-87867-03-5.
  • Aparna Sen calls the shots (Women in Indian film), by Rajashri Dasgupta. Zubaan, 2009.


  1. "Aparna Sen Gets Candid At DIFF". The Daily Star. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  2. "Aparna Sen Biography". filmibeat.com. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  3. "Monsoon girl". Te Papa.
  4. "Bollywood wins big at National Film Awards". Reuters India. 23 January 2010. Archived from the original on 26 January 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  5. "There's no luck without hard work". dnaindia. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  6. "Iti Mrinalini". Facebook. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  7. Dutt, Anjan (20 April 2013). "GOYNAR BAKSHO DECODED 1". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  8. "Aparna Sen's latest film 'Arshinagar' is a Bengali adaptation of 'Romeo and Juliet' featuring Dev". IBNLive. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  9. Rosario, Kennith (21 April 2017). "'Sonata' review: A play pretending to be a film". The Hindu. India. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  10. "16th Moscow International Film Festival (1989)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  11. "Aparna Sen to head Ladakh international film festival jury". Times of India. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  12. "Paroma, the fortnightly magazine of Saradha launched by CM". Events at Saradha Realty. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  13. Sengupta, Reshmi (21 August 2014). "Why I did not quit". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  14. "Aparna Sen's 'The Japanese Wife' to be released on April 9". Outlook India. 24 February 2010. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
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