Shabana Azmi created quite a furor in Bangladesh on Saturday when she reached Dhaka to represent her late father Kaifi Azmi who was being honoured, along with 57 other dignitaries from across the world for their support of Bangaldesh’s War Of Liberation in 1971.
Shabana who had to be in Dhaka for the function to represent her father had to be back in Mumbai in time for her mother’s birthday the same day.
She made it very clear to the organizers of the function in Dhaka that she can only be at the function for a few minutes before she had to return to the Dhaka international airport in time for the flight back to Mumbai to reach in time for her mother’s birthday.
Apparently, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made sure Shabana made it back to the airport on time. The entire route from the venue of the function to the airport was cleared of traffic and Shabana was personally escorted by a fleet of government vehicles.
Confirming the hullaballoo that she created on the Dhaka roadways on Saturday, Shabana says, “Yes, the Prime Minister’s office had put the entire machinery on red alert! I left within seconds of receiving the honour on behalf of my father to be back in Mumbai in time for my mum’s 84th birthday…Police escort, lal batti, screaming sirens, fleets of cops to ensure there was no traffic hurdle for me to reach the airport on time. It was crazy. But you know what? I’m glad I was there for this occasion.”
Among the super-icons with a socio-political voice who were honoured in Dhaka were George Harrison and Joan Baez. Shabana was looking forward to meeting Joan whose searing ‘Song For Bangladesh’ encapsulated the 1971 Bangladesh war of liberation so succinctly. But Joan didn’t show up.
Says Shabana, “My Abba along with 57 others were honoured by the government of Bangladesh for their support to the liberation struggle. I was handed over the award by the President and PM of Bangladesh. I wept like a baby.”