Born Hyderabad, India, 1950. BA Psychology, St. Xavier’s College (1972); Film and Television Institute of India (1973).
“Art can lead to a climate in which sensitivity allows change to occur, and with it inherently comes social responsibility.”
Famed Bollywood actor and activist Shabana Azmi describes the changes in India’s film industry from the 1970s to today, making comparisons between the evolution of commercial film and the alternative 'parallel cinema,' a Bengali movement that produced artistic and socially minded films. Azmi explains how her work in groundbreaking films, such as the dramas Ankur and Paar, led to her activism on behalf of the rights of women and the poor. She also discusses the shift in financing film from a more piecemeal, protracted process to one dominated by large corporations, and how this has influenced even the content of films. She describes the workings of the Central Board of Film Certification and, particularly, its approval of the highly controversial film “Fire,” which set off riots for its depiction of a lesbian relationship, and also relates her experience as an MP in the upper house of parliament. She reflects on her experience as a woman and a Muslim in an industry and country that is patriarchal and Hindu majority.