Rekha insisted Shabana do Umrao Jaan | india | Hindustan Times
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Rekha insisted Shabana do Umrao Jaan

Shabana Azmi says that it was on Rekha?s insistence that she approached JP Dutta for a role in Umrao Jaan.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 19:52 IST

Everyone knows Shabana Azmi is playing mother Shaukat Azmi's role in JP Dutta's Umrao Jaan. What's not so well known is that it was old friend Rekha who suggested that she step into the formidable Shaukat Azmi's shoes.

Says Shabana: "Rekha had played my mother's daughter in Muzaffar Ali's Umrao Jaan. It was she who insisted that I do my mother's role in JP's version of the same story. That's how I decided to approach JP for the role."

Rekha and Shabana go back a long way. They did a number of films together in the 1970s, including Ek Hi Bhool and Raaste Pyaar Ke. Some years ago, Rekha chickened out of Deepa Mehta's Fire arguing, "I can kiss Nandita Das twenty times but not in that (lesbian) way."

And Shabana got a chance to do one of her best roles ever. Rekha has a special name for Shabana... and it's Munni!

Shabana has worked with Rekha's Umrao Jaan director Muzaffar in Anjuman, but not with Dutta, the maker of the new Umrao Jaan. However, her other half, Javed Akhtar, has written some of his best lyrics for JP's cinema.

"It is a very emotional moment for me to be doing a role that my mother has done," says Shabana.

And she has Rekha to thank for the opportunity.