‘ I don’t have an exaggerated notion about myself ’
One Of the industry’s finest actors Of all time Shabana azmi sits back and explains notions Of her body Of work, and how she’s having a blast at 66
ow is the best time for senior actors,” exults 66- year- old Shabana Azmi, before adding, with a touch of bemusement: “Do you know as many as halfa- dozen films of mine are up for release this year?” Pointing to a few errant strands of grey in her hair, India’s most awarded and respected artiste laughs. “I don’t dye my hair. If I turn more grey and white with age, that’s fine by me. At this point of my life and career, I don’t have to look glamorous — unless the role requires me to, of course!”
Catching up with the actress for a chat over coffee, I can detect she has lost none of her zest for life and acting. And she’s never been busier. Perhaps many in Bollywood aren’t aware that she’s been appearing in prominent roles in international ventures — like the BBC mini- series Capital, in which she is delightful as a Pakistani mother lording it over her grown- up children in a quaint neighbourhood of London which is being eyed by property developers.
And she will be seen as a Pakistani mother again in Signature Move, directed by American filmmaker Jennifer Reeder. This time, the setting is Chicago where, as an overwrought mum, Shabana stalks her daughter, a budding wrestler who hangs out with a Mexican friend, much to her consternation. “It’s quite an insightful film,” she states, “which delves into women’s issues.” More than likely to arouse the interest of worldwide international film festivals, Signature Move may well find global distribution at the multiplexes.
Also in the pipeline, count the Kavi Raz- directed The Black Prince, in which she portrays the mother of the last monarch of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh. Obsessed with preserving his kingdom during the time of the British Raj, the maharaja had struck up a bond with Queen Victoria, a little- known chapter in the history of colonialism.
On home ground, Shabana reunites with Aparna Sen, who
SPEAKING HER MIND: “See, I am paid what I deserve nowadays,” Shabana says. “Still, money isn’t and shouldn’t be the sole criterion to accept a project”