on the rise of communalism
Shabana Azmi is an internationally acclaimed
actress, Member of the Indian Parliament, and UN Goodwill Ambassador.
Known for her commitment to social causes, she has been a fierce
and powerful advocate for the disadvantaged, fighting for the rights
of minorities, slum dwellers, and women. Her political work can
almost be seen as an extension of her work as an actress as Shabana
Azmi has so often portrayed women discovering how to stand up to
the many forces that seek to oppress them.
As chairperson of the Nivara Hakk Suraksha
Samiti she arranged for alternate land for the disputed slum
dwellers of Sanjay Gandhi Nagar in Mumbai and undertook to diffuse
tensions after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. For
her excellence in social activism, Shabana Azmi won the Rajiv Gandhi
Award as well the Yash Bhartiya award from the government of the
state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Most significantly she was awarded
the Padma Shri in 1988 by the Government of India, an award given
to eminent citizens for excellence in their field and distinguished
contribution to society.
Azmi earned a name for herself as an actress not only in commericial
cinema but in parallel cinema as well. She has acted in over sixty
films and made a number of stage appearances in the last three decades.
She is the winner of an unprecedented five National Awards for Best
Actress in India for the films Ankur (1974), Arth
(1983), Khandhar (1984), Paar (1985), and Godmother
(1999) and international awards for best actress at the Taormina
Arte Festival in Italy for Patang (1994), the Chicago International
Film Festival and the Los Angeles Outfest for Deepa Mehta's Fire
Several retrospectives of her films have been
screened at the New York Film Festival, the George Pompidou Center
in Paris, the Norwegian Film Institute, the Smithsonian Institute
and the American Film Institute in Washington as well as at the
Pacific Cinemetheque and Winnipeg Cinematheque. She has been chairperson
of the jury at the Montreal International Film Festival and the
Cairo International Film Festival. She won international acclaim
in John Schlesinger's Madame Sousatzka, Nicholas Klotz's
The Bengali Night; and Roland Joffe's City of Joy.
Other films include Channel 4's Immaculate Conception, Blake
Edward's The Son of Pink Panther, and Ismail Merchant's In
Shabana Azmi, married to poet, lyricist, and
screenwriter Javed Akhter and daughter of renowned Urdu poet, Kaifi
Azmi, and seasoned stage actress, Shaukat Kaifi, is a graduate of
St. Xavier College in Mumbai, and the Film and Television Institute
in Pune, India.