‘ 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

WKND - - Bollywood The Thespian - By khalid mo­hamed

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”

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