At 61, Shabana is in a serene frame of mind. The veteran actor who has an impressive filmography with a wide range of directors and a variety of critically acclaimed roles, says she's able to go with the flow now with a new level of maturity.
The maturity and peace was apparent in her voice as she spoke to us from Khandala. The actor right now is enjoying the nice weather of Khandala.
"I'm celebrating my birthday at our Khandala home. There would be a small gathering on Sunday for a lunch party. The weather is absolutely nice here."
A FTII graduate, who did some of the most experimental films of her time, finds herself in a peaceful space now and takes life as it comes.
"At this stage, birthdays are just one year gone by. I take life as it comes. There's a level of maturity where you are able to go with the flow. You have a lot more little opinion, and more flexibility. Right now I'm in a serene frame of mind."
The lady goes beyond her profile as an actor. She is a committed social activist who stood up for causes like AIDS and child survival. From voicing opinion about religious extremism during 1993 Mumbai riots to speaking out against the ban against Aarakshan recently, the lady has never shied away from expressing her opinion and offering solutions.
We still remember Shabana's HIV ad in Doordarshan where she says with an HIV child in her arms, "She does not need your rejection, she needs your love."
Ask Shabana about voicing her opinion about these issues and pat comes the reply, "I have got this in heritage. Afterall, I'm the daughter of Shaukat and Kaifi Azmi (both were members of Communist Party of India). That's my way of life. I'm fortunate and priviliged that people are willing to listen to me which is important to bring visibility to the issues that concern people at large."
Meanwhile, the lady is on the go, with a kitty brimming with projects.
"I have a film at hand, which I am not in a position to disclose right now. I am doing plays like Broken Images and Kaifi & I. Tumhari Amrita will complete 20 years next year, so we are planning a world tour."
Hats off to her!
We also spoke to two people who started their career with Shabana Azmi - Mahesh Bhatt and Nandita Das. They share their memories and impressions about the lady.
'My career started with Shabana'
I started my film career with Fire. I was lucky to have worked with Shabana who was already an eminent actor. She seemed very confident to me. The role that we were portraying was very different. And it needed a lot of comfort and understanding level between us. Luckily, we got along very well and were very comfortable with each other.
'We spent a lot of time professionally'
We did another movie called Hari Bhari, which was just the opposite of our previous film together (Fire). We played sisters-in-law who hated each other (laughs). Then we got to work together again in Water, but the movie got stalled. The first 10 days were full of emotional upheaval.
Few people know that we also did a play called Diary of Anne Frank. It was staged in Delhi, Bangalore and Calcutta. It also featured Zohra Sehgal along with other NSD artists.
We have also attended improvisation workshops together. We also attended a lot of film festivals together. Overall, we got to spend a lot of time with each other.
'I'm attending her birthday bash'
We are very much in touch and I'm attending her birthday bash.
'Indian cinema incomplete without Shabana's contribution'
I admire her for her social commitment. The range of films that she has done is tremendous. She has worked with some of the finest directors. Be it Faasla, Avtaar, Fakira, Godmother, she has displayed a gamut of emotions. If you think of Indian cinema, you cannot think about it without Shabana ji.
'She stands up for the voiceless'
She is a very vocal person. She never shies away from expressing her opinion in public debates. She is a parliamentarian and uses this opportunity to stand up for those who cannot voice their opinion. She is equally concerned about the issues of women as of the homeless. She is strong and articulate and commands a lot of credibility and respect from people.
'My launch would have impossible without Shabana'
I began my career on a disastrous note (His films Sakat, Manzilein Aur Bhi Hain didn't do much for his career), it was Shabana's movie that launched my career. I did one of the most important films of my career with Shabana (Arth). It wouldn't have been possible without her.
'She lives life on her own terms'
She has lived live on her own terms. There's no life if you live it on other's terms.
Birthday message: Happy birthday Shabana. Live life the way you have so far.