Shabana Azmi celebrated her 62nd birthday yesterday and what better way to celebrate her birth other than giving her a tribute to her wonderful work? She was born to Kaifi Azmi and Shaukat Azmi in Hyderabad and graduated with a degree in Psychology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
Instead of pursuing her studies are getting or rather getting married (which everyone did at the age by that time) she took up a course in acting at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. Her reason for the change in path? “I had the privilege of watching Jaya Bhaduri in a film, Suman, and I was completely enchanted by her performance because it was unlike the other performances I had seen. I really marveled at that and said, ‘My god, if by going to the Film Institute I can achieve that, that’s what I want to do.’” and boy did she do that? She topped her class in 1972 and since then there was no looking back.
She made her debut with Shyam Benegal’s Ankur in 1974. She was the newbie back then and obviously wasn’t the first choice to star in a neo-realist movie. But all the leading actresses refused and the role tumbled down to Shabana. To everyone’s surprise, the movie was a critical success. Her role was appraised and she was welcomed to Bollywood with open arms. She won her first National Film Award for Best Actress for Ankur and kept winning the award for Arth, Khandhar and Paar consecutively.
She ventured into parallel cinema with Deepa Mehta’s Fire in 1996. The movie was one of its kind where Shabana for the first time portrayed the role of a Lesbian. She falls in love with her sister-in-law in the movie. Once again, the movie was a huge success and surprised everyone with its success. These weren’t the only successes that she added to her kitty. She appeared in many other critically acclaimed movies like Sparsh, Godmother, Morning Raga, 15 Park Avenue and Its a wonderful afterlife to name a few.
Apart from her constant work in Bollywood Shabana Azmi also supports a lot of NGO’s and other charities. Her heart goes out in serving the children affected with HIV/AIDS and she fights for injustice. Since 1989, she has been a member of the National Integration Council. She was always a member of National AIDS Commission. The United Nations Population Fund appointed her as its Goodwill Ambassador for India.