Aparna Sen is a Bengali Indian actress and film director and mother of actress Konkona Sen Sharma. Aparna Sen was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) to a Bengali Brahmo family, originally from East Bengal. Her father is the veteran critic and film-maker Chidananda Dasgupta. Her mother Supriya Dasgupta is the cousin of renowned Bengali poet Jibanananda Das. She spent her childhood in Hazaribagh and Kolkata and had her schooling in Loreto House, Kolkata.
Aparna Sen made her film debut at the age of 16, when she played the role of Mrinmoyee in the 1961 film "Teen Kanya" directed by Satyajit Ray (who was a long time friend of her father's). She then studied at Kolkata's Presidency College.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, Aparna Sen resumed her film career in Mrinal Sen's "Akash Kusum". From then till the end of the 1970s, she worked steadily in the Bengali film industry. She acted in a number of Hindi films as well during this time.In 1969, she 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 1981, Aparna Sen made her debut as a film director with "36 Chowringhee Lane". She also wrote its screenplay. The film, about an aged English teacher still living in Calcutta three decades after independence, won reviews from critics. For her debut feature, Aparna 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.
Aparna followed up this early success with several other films, notably "Paroma" (1984), "Sati" (1989) and "Yugant" (1995). These examined the feminine condition in modern-day India from different perspectives. She also starred in "Unishe April" (1994), the film by Bengali cinema's Rituparno Ghosh. Aparna 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 Aparna herself. It won a number of awards on the international festival circuit.
Next Aparna Sen directed "Mr. and Mrs. Iyer" (2002) which was a love story set against the harsh backdrop of Hindu-Muslim sectarian violence in India. The film won Aparna a third National Film Award for her direction, and an acting award for Aparna's daughter Konkona Sen Sharma. It won more awards at the Locarno, Hawaii and Manila film festivals. 15, Park Avenue (2005), is her latest released venture, starring her daughter Konkona and the actors Shabana Azmi, Dhritiman Chaterji, Waheeda Rehman, Rahul Bose and Soumitra Chatterjee among others. The film deals with a girl (Konkona) who is a schizophrenic and her relations with her elder step-sister played by Azmi.
Aparna Sen's next film named "Japanese Wife" stars Raima Sen , Rahul Bose and a Japanese actress. This film focuses on two women. It’s based on Kunal Basu's short story from West Bengal and start shooting from April , 2007. Aparna Sen has been married three times. Her first marriage, to Sanjay Sen, was when she was quite young. Her second husband was the science writer and journalist, Mukul Sharma. They later divorced amicably. Aparna is presently married to Kalyan Ray, an author and professor of English who teaches at a university in the United States. She has two daughters, Kamalini and Konkona, and two grandchildren.
From 1986 to 2005, Aparna Sen was 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 1986, the President of India bestowed the Padma Shri to Aparna Sen in recognition of her contribution to Indian cinema. Since then, she has received several lifetime achievement awards, and served on juries at film festivals around the world.