Shabana Azmi chats up with
Nikhil Tanejaon her latest film
Sorry Bhai!,her family and romantic hubby Javed Akhtar...
Do you appear in fewer movies these days because the offers aren’t interesting or because you want to work at your own pace?
I’m being offered a wide variety of roles and a lot of comedy –– perhaps because so many different kinds of films are being made. There’s a pile of scripts with all actors including me. I work in the films I want to. It’s possible today to make niche films because they have an audience as well… which is why I’m getting such roles, not just mother or dadi roles.
Then why be a mom in Sorry Bhai!?
I have mostly done dramatic, morally upright roles... even when it comes to being a mother. This role had shades of comedy... I had to be bossy while retaining a sense of humour.
Have you met moms like her [character in the film]?
I’ve met innumerable mothers like her. It’s an Indian thing to be –– being possessive about grown-up sons and wary of the daughter-in-law-to-be. Plus, almost all friends my age are perpetually on a diet, which they cannot stick to like me in
After Honeymoon Travels... you were into another coy, flirt-and-kiss role with Boman Irani. Isn’t this getting repetitive?
[Instantly] Not in the least! I was a very meek person in Honeymoon Travels... Here, I am bossy and dominating. And it wasn’t a kiss, it was hardly a peck.
Can you be obsessive with your children?
Ask Adhuna what kind of a mother-in-law I make.
How difficult is it being a mother to Farhan and Zoya Akhtar?
I share a very healthy relationship with Zoya and Farhan for which I will be eternally grateful to Honey. I am their friend, I enjoy their company greatly. [Smiles] I’m very fond of their close friends, they call me by my first name... without the ‘aunty’ tag.
Are you gravitating towards commercial cinema? You’ve signed on Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan...
I can’t comment on the movie but I’d like to remind you that I was the only actress who was always doing commercial and art house cinema simultaneously. [Laughs] I did Fakira and Ankur at the same time.
Tell us is Javed Akhtar as romantic as some of his lyrics?
[Laughs] Young women who love Javed’s songs and poetry come up to me with stars in their eyes. Let me tell them that Javed doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body! I keep telling him, “It’s fine to be the master of understatement... magar kabhi to kuch bol diya karo!”
Any habit of his you don’t like?
I used to go round the bend because he’d lose his spectacles all the time. Now he has gone and done Lasix surgery, so he doesn’t need specs at all. [Smiles] Rather an extreme step because of my grumbling... don’t you think?
You act with him in the play Kaifi aur Main. How surreal is it playing your own mother and acting in a play based on your father’s life?
Kaifi aur Main has been written by Javed by collating bits from my mother’s book Yaad ki Rahguzar and many of Abba’s interviews. No one else could have played Kaifi better than him... it’s interesting to have the added dimension of a husband play the father. Now Sigmund Freud would have something to say about that!