When actor Shabana Azmi talks about her favourite roles in an expansive career spanning over three decades, it is quite tempting to presume that she is talking about her cinematic tryst with directors like Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen and Mahesh Bhatt.
But then she surprises us by rattling off names of more recent films like Fire, Godmother, Morning Raga and 15 Park Avenue which have further enriched an otherwise illustrious career.
Her forthcoming film, Reema Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd also falls in that bracket. “It is a special film,” she says.
The reason: Her children Farhan and Zoya Akhtar have produced it. “It was heartening to note, during the 45-day shoot in and around Goa, that my kids had imbibed the best of Western professionalism, a rarity in Hindi films earlier,”
“Reema’s strength as a director lies in the fact that she can instantly think of an alternative if an original idea does not work out. As a first-time director she does not feel the weight of the world on her shoulders,” she adds.
Shabana also does not forget to point out that the future of Hindi films rests in the hands of young directors. “We have the talent… even the big production houses are willing to support them. But more emphasis should be given on the marketing of films. It might help young filmmakers to tie up with big sponsors,” she says.
Honeymoon… flaunts the best of both worlds with its “heart-warming tale” of six couples on a honeymoon tour on a bus. Seeing the opportunity, we gather enough courage to ask her about the kissing scene with Boman Irani.
“Oh please,” she remarks with a laugh, “Do not read too much into that. It’s a sweet, innocent, non-controversial scene that takes place in the middle of the road.”
The sense of bonhomie persists when we ask her about Deepa Mehta’s Water making it to the Oscars. “It is a huge slap on the faces of those who conspired to hold up the shoots. It is the triumph of freedom of expression. I wish Deepa all the best at the Oscars,” she says.