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'I hope this is not the end of the road'

By SUBHASH K JHA
September 18, 2020 16:24 IST
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'I have been lucky to be at the right place at the right time, so my life and career have taken a trajectory as the flow goes.'

IMAGE: Shabana Azmi. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shabana Azmi/Instagram

The gorgeous Shabana Azmi turns 70 on September 18.

The actress, who has worked in the film industry for over 46 years, tells Subhash K Jha, "I do hope that this is not the end of the road for me and that greater challenges await me."

What are your birthday plans?

To do nothing at all. That will be a new experience.

You have achieved more than any actor that I know of. Any unfulfilled dreams?

Contrary to what some believe about me, I have never planned my future.

I think I have been lucky to be at the right place at the right time, so my life and career have taken a trajectory as the flow goes.

So nothing more to achieve?

I do hope that this is not the end of the road for me and that greater challenges await me.

Barbra Streisand's lines are my favourite: 'Ask what I want and I will sing I want more of everything, everything!'

IMAGE: A young Shabana. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shabana Azmi/Instagram

There was a time when there were no meaty roles for actors beyond a certain age. Is that changing?

Yes, it has changed to a considerable degree.

Weighty roles continue to come my way, touch wood.

The ecosystem has changed.

The heavy dependence on young stars to carry a film on their own shoulders has lessened.

Inevitably, stories are padded up with senior actors in important roles.

Don't you think the OTT platform has opened up a whole new vista for talented actors?

The OTT platform has made us realise that content is king.

Catering to the lowest common denominator is no longer the raison d'etre for making films.

The film industry has finally realised that there is an audience for all kinds of content.

Do you think the star system is ending in Bollywood?

It's the marketing that needs to be pushed more for films without stars. The opposite has been true.

Films with big budgets have enormous marketing budgets. The smaller film finds little visibility and is handicapped because of it.

But if we wish to push the bar and become relevant in the world, we will have to remember that it is Chaitanya Tamhane's The Disciple that wins the Best Screenplay award at Venice!

 

IMAGE: Shabana Azmi with Konkona Sensharma and Vidya Balan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shabana Azmi/Instagram

Who among the contemporary actresses do you find interesting?

Tabu, Vidya Balan and Alia Bhatt are very good actors.

Vidya also has a beautifully modulated voice.

I find today's generation invests their time in getting the perfect body, which is as it should be, but need to pay greater attention to voice modulation.

And please can someone teach them to place the nukhtas in the right places?

Bevkoof is not bevaqoof, khoobsurat, khushboo, khayal have nukhtas, it is mizaaj not mijaaz...

Your brother Baba recently turned director. What about you?

Jaane do na! Bahut mehnat hai usmein. So much easier being an actor.

Your message to the nation on your special day?

Kaifisaab ka ek gaana that he wrote for IPTA (the Indian People's Theatre Association):

'Todna apna kaam nahi hai
Hum hain dilon ko jodnewale
Kya Hindu aur kya Muslim
Kaise gore kaise Kaale
Ek hi mala ke sab daane.'

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