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Last Updated 20.01.2022 | 9:00 PM IST



“The privileged need to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate” – Shabana Azmi

Bollywood News

Looking back on 2021 the great Shabana Azmi’s main takeaway from the year was that acceptance is not the same as submission. “To carry on undaunted might sound very brave in most circumstances but the Pandemic made us re-evaluate our behaviour. One had to be cautious without being paranoid. Because irresponsible behaviour could jeopardise the safety of others.”

"The privileged need to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate" - Shabana Azmi

Shabana learnt the virtues of giving until it hurts during these times of crisis. “I think this pandemic has awakened us to the fact that we are all connected and it is incumbent on the privileged to extend a helping hand to those less fortunate. It is a time when we needed to give till it hurts.”

The brilliant actress last see in the Moghul drama The Empire, kept working through most of 2021 all over the world.

How tough was it to work through the pandemic and in masks? “I worked on Shekhar Kapur’s What Has Love Got To Do With It with Emma Thompson and Lily James in London early 2021 at the height of the pandemic and on Steven Spielberg’s web series Halo and Nikkhil Advani’s Empire. We were tested every single day on Shekhar and Spielberg’s sets and could not move out of our bubble. It felt weird in the beginning but in hindsight that’s what kept me going.”

Shabana found the second wave of the pandemic tougher than the first. “The second wave was very traumatic because every day we heard about people losing friends and family. Fortunately we could move to Sukoon our home in Khandala and spend quality time with the family. A lot of people dealt with their feeling of being caged in by devouring by and getting addicted to the OTT platforms. People realized that’s what kept them from collapsing in despair.”

Shabana enjoyed doing Nikkil Advani’s Empire. “I enjoyed playing Esan Daulat and am grateful that my work was appreciated. I will always be thankful to Nikkhil Advani for accommodating my dates.”

With movie theatres in a state of ceaseless uncertainty does Shabana see the OTT as a way out? “Yes, for sure for now .But one keeps hoping that the Covid variant will become benign and we develop herd immunity. Consuming the way we watch content has altered greatly. When I visit my native town Mijwan I see that it’s the mobile phone which has become the preferred choice of visual entertainment. The big budget extravaganza is what people will go to the theatre to watch.”

So does Shabana believe that the OTT platform is here to stay? “The OTT platform has opened up opportunity for authentic faces. Chocolate faces are disappearing. It’s not just me a lot of senior female actors are getting substantial work and that is a welcome situation. The advent of the casting director has cast the net wider so stock actors for stock characters is no longer the norm. Earlier you could predict with your eyes closed that Shivraj, Jeevan, Sapru, Lalita Pawar etc. would be cast in a particular role. Today you have fresh faces from the hinterlands who are replacing them. I hope the trend continues."

2022 looks uncertain and challenging to Shabana. “One can plan nothing. My shooting schedules have gone for a toss, we’ve been holding back on renovations for our home in Mumbai. I was looking forward to a long-deserved holiday with my girls’ gang that’s been kept on hold. The Mijwan Fashion Show has been postponed but I’ve learned to go with the flow instead of cribbing endlessly. Live in the here-and-now has become my motto.”

Which were the films and shows that Shabana enjoyed in 2021 and what are her projects for 2022? “The Crown, Downtown Abbey were my favourites in 2021. I have three major releases Halo, What’s Love Got To Do With It and Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani. I have some projects in various stages of development. It’s a time I can’t complain about.”

Also Read: Shabana Azmi shares a picture with the ‘poetic’ Dharmendra and ‘effervescent’ Farah Khan from the sets of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani


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