Some of Girish Karnad’s best works was with Shabana Azmi, and vice versa. In fact they almost started together in Shyam Benegal’s Nishant in 1973, one of the pair’s earliest works where they played husband and wife. Shabana then went on to play Girish’s wife in another masterpiece of the 1970s. In Basu Chatterjee’s Swami she was the reluctant wife the stately Saudamini who gradually comes to respect and love her repressed husband.
They came together again in Basu Chatterjee’s Apne Paraye and Shyam Benegal’s Antarnaad, though not as husband and wife. Karnad’s going away has left Shabana shattered. She at first refused to comment on the tragedy. This is something I had never seen her do. So I urged her to talk about her friend.
Shabana finally said, “It was a friendship of 43 years, Subhash. I haven’t been able to speak to the family yet. I need the privacy to grieve his loss. I have been at a public function and going into another now so my mind has blocked the enormity of the loss. We’ve lost Farouque Shaikh, Shashiji (Kapoor), Om Puri and now Girish. I’m too numb to say anything.”
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