While on It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, there’s a very interesting story about how Shabana Azmi got to being a part of its ensemble cast. Before Chadha met Shabana Azmi, she had assumed that she would be a very serious kind of person, reserved and the no-nonsense variety. Shabana’s political leanings only made Chadha’s belief stronger. But Gurinder Chadha had an occasion to go to the actress’ house one day to meet Javed Akhtar and she soon realised, Shabana was completely the opposite of what she had perceived her to be. “I found her to be so jolly and so full of life,” revealed Chadha. Having found her so warm and approachable, the filmmaker, months later, asked the actress if she would work in a film with her.
To Chadha’s pleasant surprise, Shabana Azmi asked her just two questions before saying ‘yes’. Recalled the filmmaker, “Shabana-ji asked me, ‘Have you written the script? Are you going to direct the film?’ When I replied in the affirmative to both the questions, she immediately said, she would most willingly be a part of the film. Of course, I told her to read the script and decide only thereafter, but she was very gracious.”