Azmi on stage, for Azamgarh’s sake | india | Hindustan Times
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Azmi on stage, for Azamgarh’s sake

The north Indian town of Azamgarh in UP— has found actress Shabana Azmi as ambassador, who wants to remove the town’s recently acquired terror tag. Zia Haq reports. Special Coverage

india Updated: Sep 24, 2008 01:01 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times

The north Indian town of Azamgarh- 750 km from New Delhi, in Uttar Pradesh — has found an ambassador who wants to remove the town’s recently acquired terror tag.

Actress Shabana Azmi, whose roots go back to the town now in news as the hub of homegrown terror, said she was “anguished” over its notoriety. The town was home to her father, Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi — a name derived from the town’s name of Azamgarh — and educationist Shibli Nomani.

“I don’t want to hold a torch for terrorists, but Azamgarh has been a place of heroic intellectual struggles and a nerve centre of communist thinkers. This [the terror tag] is a sad generalisation,” Shabana said.

In an attempt to remind people of the town’s significant past, Shabana and lyricist-husband Javed Akhtar may even stage their popular play Kaifi aur Main, that traces the life and times of the poet who eventually relocated to Azamgarh from Mumbai. “The play is not about Azamgarh itself but about the importance it had for Kaifi. We may stage it again, if it helps remind people of Azamgarh’s legends,” Akhtar said.

The play, in which Shabana plays her mother Shaukat and Javed plays Kaifi, was last performed in January.

Kaifi, a native of Mijwan in Azamgarh, wrote stirring Urdu poetry for social change. After moving back to Azamgarh from Mumbai, he fought for a train link with Delhi. When the government finally approved Azamgarh’s only train link, it named the service Kaifiyat Express, as a tribute to the poet.