For more than four decades, Shabana Azmi has ruled over theatre and films with finesse and ease and is befittingly one of the most versatile actresses we have today. One of the torch bearers of India’s ‘Parallel Cinema’ in the 1970s and 1980s, she belongs to a family of extraordinary talent.
Her father Kaifi Azmi was an Urdu lyricist and poet, and her mother Shaukat Azmi was a veteran stage artist. Her brother Baba Azmi is a cinematographer who has worked on blockbuster movies including Tezaab, Mr. India to name a few.
The talent isn’t unilateral alone and there is so much more to her than her on-screen persona. A firebrand and force to reckon with, the Padma Shri awardee is a Rajya Sabha MP, Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), and a women’s right activist. She is married to celebrated poet and screenwriter Javed Akhtar.
A staunch secularist, the veteran actor is often caught speaking her mind on cinema, politics, social causes, and much more. Here are some instances where she spoke her mind like a true boss woman.
Triple Talaq is anti-woman and must be done away with
Earlier this month, she found herself in the middle of a fake tweet storm and she decided to shut down all trolls with this tweet.
You are lying not becoz you are misinformed but bcoz u cant stomach d fact that we are true secularists who condemn religious intolerance of ALL communities. Im on record that triple talaq is antiwoman and must be done away with. Just as cast based persecution of Dalits must stop https://t.co/hxsZfuLBvU
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) November 3, 2020
Women need to be more decisive
At a YFLO event in Hyderabad, she spoke about how her father inspired her and left an everlasting impression on her. She admitted. “I am happy that the world is changing and women are being granted equality in all spheres, but they still need to be more decisive in terms of finance, family planning and economic independence.”
Feminism benefits everyone
In an interview, the 70-year-old actor pointed out that patriarchy was not just against women but it also limits the freedom of men. She asked, why is it looked down upon when boys cry?
The fight today is tolerant and intolerant
At the Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals, Shabana Azmi spoke about her film Mee Raqsam. "We have to understand that the fight today is not between religions but between world views that are tolerant and liberal on one side as against the intolerant and fundamentalist on the other. That, I think is a very powerful thing that the film says,” she said.
On Kangana Ranaut’s attack
Talking about Kangana Ranaut’s attack against Bollywood over Sushant Singh Rajput, Shabana Azmi told a publication, "Kangana has started believing in her own myth. She says she taught feminism to the film industry, she taught it nationalism. I'm glad she spelled that out because nobody else had noticed! I think she fears the day when she will no longer be in the headlines and so has to keep making outrageous statements to stay in the news. Poor girl, why doesn't she just do what she is best at, which is acting."
Art can create a climate of sensitivity
Speaking during the launch of her latest movie which is a Netflix original titled Kaali Khui (Black Well), she admitted that she is an optimist by nature and believes art can nurture a “climate of sensitivity”, which, in turn, can spur societal change.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)