Name: Shabana Azmi
Birthday: 18th September 1951
Marital Status: Married to renowned poet, script writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar in 1984. Earlier in her career, she was linked to director Shekhar Kapur.
Awards: Shabana Azmi has been honored with the National Film Award for Best Actress for a total of five times, making her the most awarded actress in the category. Besides these, she has been the recipient of the Filmfare Best Actress Awards and nominations for the same for many of her films. She has also been honored with internationals awards in film festivals like Taormina Arte Festival (Italy), Chicago International Film Festival and L.A. Outfest. Shabana Azmi has been conferred with prestigious honors like Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India, Martin Luther King Professorship award by the University of Michigan, and Mumbai Academy of Mumbai Academy of Mumbai Image.
Trivia: Shabana Azmi was among the first actresses of parallel cinema, which is famous for its realistic content and serious approach. One of the finest actresses of the industry, she has been a part of many foreign films and projects as well. Besides proving her acting prowess, she has also been actively engaged in social work, especially for women’s rights. She is a member of the Rajya Sabha, and also the Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund.
Biography: Born in a Muslim family to poet Kaifi Azmi and veteran theatre actress Shaukat Azmi, Shabana had a natural inclination towards intellectual growth. The socially active environment she had at home helped her develop interest in social and human values, paving the way for her to be associated with social activities later in life. She completed her schooling from Queen Mary School, Mumbai and graduation in Psychology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She also pursued a course in acting from Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune in 1973.
Shabana debuted in the Hindi film industry in 1974 with the film Ankur, which was also Shyam Benegal’s directorial debut. Despite being a newcomer, her performance was highly appreciated by critics because of the non-realistic genre of films which it belonged to. She even went on to win the National Film Award for Best Actress and the award for Best Actress (Hindi) by the Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards in 1975. Her next film Nishant, also with director Shyam Benegal, was a huge success and won many international awards. Her successful phase continued with films like Fakira, Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Amar Akbar Anthony, Junoon, Swami and Sparsh. All of these films were extremely well-received by the audience, and earned her awards and nominations at various prestigious award functions.
Another career defining film for the talented actress was 1982 film Arth, which was about extramarital relationships. The film was such a major success that it won Shabana Azmi the National Award for Best Actress and Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Thereafter, a hit in the form of Masoom followed, along with films like Khandahar, Paar, Bhavna, Avtaar, Mandi and Sparsh, for all of which her performances won much appreciation and recognition at award functions.
The versatile actress, known for her roles in off-beat films, starred in Deepa Mehta’s trilogy of the elements of nature- Fire (1996) and Earth (1998). She couldn’t star in Water (2005) because of political reasons. Fire dealt with lesbianism and earned her the Silver Hugo Award for the Best Actress at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Outstanding Actress Award in a Feature Film at the L.A. Outfest. In the film Godmother in 1998, Shabana Azmi played the character inspired by Santokben Jadeja. The film won six National Awards, including the Award for Best Actress which went to Azmi.
2002 film Makdee saw Shabana Azmi play the role of a witch, and was much appreciated for her performance. Later, she was seen as an ambitious singer in Tehzeeb in 2003. She won the Zee Cine Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and was nominated for the Star Screen Award and Filmfare Award in the same category. She was also a part of other notable films like Morning Raga, 15 Park Avenue, Waterborne, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Sorry Bhai and Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.
Besides being renowned for her extraordinary contribution in the film industry, Shabana Azmi has made a mark for herself in the field of social activism. She has fought for various causes like child survival, fighting AIDS and communal harmony. Among her sphere of work are groups like slum dwellers, displaced Kashmiri migrants, earthquake victims and people affected by 1993 Mumbai riots as well as Indian Muslims fighting after the 9/11 attacks. She has also been a member of the National Integration Council, National AIDS Commission of India and the United Nations Population Fund.