New Delhi, Feb 14 (PTI) Amrita Pritam is famous for her over 100 books of poetry, fiction and essays besides an autobiography but few may know that she also handled finances during the shoot of Sai Paranjpye's film 'Sparsh' in Delhi.
It all happened when Paranjpye was looking for a producer for 'Sparsh', an intense love story unfolding in a school for the blind, and filmmaker Basu Bhattacharya of 'Teesri Kasam' fame agreed to do it.
However, she started getting veiled warnings as soon as the news spread. People told her that Bhattacharya never pays anyone but Paranjpye paid no heed.
Bhattacharya was also an expert in making arrangements.
After the unit of 'Sparsh' reached Delhi for the shoot, Paranjpye fixed up a place for her own stay during the brief visit.
A close friend of hers, Sushilkumar Chakravarty was a successful industrialist and had a large house in the posh Golf Links area, which he put at her disposal for the length of the filming stint in Delhi.
Bhattacharya was quick to take advantage of this offer, and also delegated Om Puri, sound recordist Sudhanshu and whoever the cameraman would be to be Paranjpye's flatmates. He fixed up lead actors Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi at Suresh Jindal's house in Sunder Nagar, another high-end locality in Delhi.
Bhattacharya, in fact, did not have to spend a farthing towards anybody's stay in Delhi.
These snippets find mention in Paranjpye's memoir 'A Patchwork Quilt: A Collage of My Creative Life', published by HarperCollins India.
'Buying or hiring anything was taboo in Basu's book. 'All actors will bring their own costumes,' he proclaimed. Apparently, this was the modus operandi in all his films. I felt no end embarrassed. It was perhaps excusable in amateur theatre, but for a full-fledged feature film to practise this kind of economy was ridiculous and unheard of,' she writes.
Pritam was a good friend of Bhattacharya and he persuaded her to handle the finances during the shoot.
'This arrangement worked quite well, as Sudesh Syal (who was managing the venture) would hand over accounts for monies spent and get the next instalment,' recalls Padma Bhushan awardee Paranjpye.
'You have turned one of the nation's major poets into an accountant,' Bhattacharya would laughingly say to Paranjpye.
Born to noted author and social worker Shakuntala Paranjpye and Russian artist Youra Sleptzoff, and granddaughter of acclaimed mathematician Sir R.P. Paranjpye, Sai started her career at All India Radio, Pune. She also launched a children's theatre in the city.
She graduated from the National School of Drama, training under Ebrahim Alkazi, going on to direct many popular and critically acclaimed plays. Later, she joined Doordarshan, where she produced the inaugural programme of Bombay Doordarshan. Apart from 'Sparsh', she also made films like 'Katha', 'Disha', 'Papeeha', 'Saaz' and 'Chashme Buddoor'.
On why is her memoir titled 'A Patchwork Quilt', she says she had a huge and random collection of bits and pieces culled over the years.
'It had to be pieced together to make a cohesive whole. I set to work, gathering and lovingly stitching the colourful tatters to make my special patchwork quilt,' she writes and hopes this quilt can provide some warmth and comfort to those it reaches.
For her, a gloomy situation can be salvaged by peppering it with a dash of humour.
'The films where I have handled grim subjects, such as the degeneration of the environment (the children's film 'Chakachak', 2004), or an intense love story unfolding in a school for the blind ('Sparsh', 1980) or the subhuman plight of able-bodied youth forced to flock to cities in search of livelihood ('Disha', 1990), have all been livened up with a dollop of quirky fun,' she writes. PTI ZMN SHD SHD SHD