December 31, 2007

News roundup

Hi all. The best laid schemes of an industrious carla oft go awry; I spent a week in the country as planned, but the satellite internet connection was down, leaving me unable to browse the Shabana Azmi news and collect the best tidbits for you. Here, then, is a late roundup.

Times of India reports that Shabana ji would like to play the late Benazir Bhutto. Apparently some 15 years ago there was a fledgling plan for a Tariq Ali film in which she would do just that; with Ms. Bhutto's recent assassination there may be renewed interest in this project. It's been pointed out to me before that there is a strong resemblance between the two women; from her comments in the article, I'd say that Shabana ji also seems aware of this. I don't want to say too much about Ms. Bhutto here and now, but I will say that if the time and the project is right, it is a casting I would very much like to see.

Shabana ji covers a range of topics in an interview with Subhash K. Jha. I believe that parts of this interview are recycled from last year - Subhash must have been on deadline. Toward the end, Shabana ji asks Subhash to teach her to cook ("Please Subhash, mujhe khana pakana sikha do.") You know, I'm quite a decent cook and I'd be happy to give Shabana ji an afternoon of my time. I've even prepared the recipe in this article.

This isn't really news about Shabana ji, rather an interesting mention of her. She is quoted in a very interesting recent editorial in Hindustan Times on the issue of achieving a secular Uniform Civil Code.

Our friend Aspi admires Javed Akhtar but is feeling a little bit overexposed of late.

Javed sahib has written his own glowing review of the music of Taare zameen par. I enjoyed this review because I loved the movie and even though it's a bit manipulative, I've been listening to the soundtrack obsessively since I saw the film. The lyrics have struck me as a little reminiscent of Javed sahib's, especially in the title song, which features sequences of similes beginning with "jaise" that remind me of Javed sahib's "Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa lagaa ..."

That's all for now - I wish all of you a safe and warm New Year (I guess it's already 2008 for some of you), and I'll see you next year.

December 25, 2007

Is Shabana in Nandita Das's film?

This from the Times of India - The crew of Nandita Das's directorial debut has run into some trouble when trying to shoot in a cemetery in Hyderabad. But the part of the story that stands out from an SLP point of view is this:

Police said the film crew of 'In Such Times', reportedly directed by actor and director Nandita Das and starring acclaimed actor Shabana Azmi, went to the Dargah-e-Buran-e-Shah in Santoshnagar on Monday morning. Neither Nandita Das nor any of the cast members of the documentary was present at the location.
Starring Shabana Azmi? This is the first I've heard of it. And my impression from my own poorly-worded run-in with Nandita ji is that she is tired of being compared to Shabana ji and is trying to distance herself from her. So I'm surprised at this casting, and perhaps even a little skeptical. Will keep you informed, of course.

Merry Christmas to all SLP's readers who celebrate the holiday. I do not, but it's a convenient time to take a week off, so I am on vacation this week and will take a little time to catch you up on some recent Shabana news and some stuff that readers have sent, and to recap the December poll. See you soon!

December 19, 2007

Shabana and her amma

The December poll pitting amma against beti is almost over - please have a vote if you have not yet. In the meantime, here is some more about mother and daughter. First, a reader sent in this sweet and lovely picture of them.

And Rohinik, from the BollyWHAT? discussion forum, offers the following tale:

Shabana and her mother would get into spats at times and wouldn't speak to each other. Whoever wanted to make up with the other would leave a champa (type of flower) at each other's door. Even fights were poetic at their house!

December 12, 2007

The clothes make the man

Shabana transformed me into a compulsive kurtawalla. The kurta, Shabana, and I have remained together ever since.
-- Javed Akhtar

Source: Bollyvista (with thanks to Specsy at the BollyWHAT? forums). I had noticed that in the few pictures I'd seen of Javed sahib in the 1970s, he wore western clothes, while today he always wears kurta-pajama and a Nehru vest. I'd wondered when he made the change, and why - was it a semi-political statement? Was it because the kurta-pajama was more comfy as he grew a little around the middle? But now we know - it's because Shabana ji thinks a guy in traditional clothes is sexy.

December 11, 2007

Gratuitous screencap: Dus kahaniyaan

Even plainly dressed, wearing almost no makeup, and scowling, Shabana Azmi is gorgeous. I cannot stop looking at this picture.

December 10, 2007

AIDS JaaGo on IndiaFM

Thanks to Aung Phyoe, Steena from the BollyWHAT? forums, and a couple of others who have let me know that the AIDS Jaago films are available on IndiaFM. You can click here to watch Positive, Farhan Akhtar's contribution starring Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani. The other three films are available there too.

I have not yet watched this myself, but I've been told it is unsubtitled. I desperately wish I had the time to write you a transcript but it would take me several viewings, and I've got a lot going on right now (which is why I've been a bit quiet here and on Filmi Geek lately). I have some news and other tidbits I will try to post soon.

December 7, 2007

This is SO wrong

This week's sacreligious Shabana-gaana comes from the warped mind of Beth, who seems to be responsible for most of the stuff around here that makes one say, "oh no she di'int!"

Please click here, and watch the video that might just start riots on two continents. Oh, and don't give up when you think it's over, because she will come back for a little more. Including air guitar.

December 6, 2007

Aspi does it again

Once again Aspi spares me the pain of watching a talent contest show just for a few meager Shabana ji highlights - read his commentary on her lip-synch critiques on a recent episode of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, where he offers this astute observation:

Now there is something about Shabana that even though she says something nice and encouraging, she makes everyone shake just a wee bit.
I'm not sure I've seen a more perfectly distilled statement of the essence of Shabana.

December 4, 2007

Dance contest rundown

As I've briefly mentioned before, Shabana Azmi has been making the rounds on several talent contest TV shows of late. I haven't watched these programs but fortunately others have and can tell me what I've missed. Check out Aspi's rundown of one recent show, and look out for his graphical take on Shabana ji schooling Sandhya Mridul in the art of hero worship!

AIDS Activism

A lot of money has been spent on awareness and people are aware about [AIDS]. But now, it is time to spend money on treatment and care. Unfortunately I still hear stories of doctors declining to treat an HIV positive patient. That, I feel, is a cardinal sin.
-- Shabana Azmi

Source: Times of India. The story is about Shabana ji's involvement in Mira Nair's AIDS JaaGo project, mentioned previously here. (ToI also is the source of the striking and unusual picture that tops this post.) I also have read that the AIDS JaaGo films will be released on YouTube in February - I will let you know as soon as I find out that has happened.

December 2, 2007

December poll: Khanum v. Khanum

This month's poll pits amma against beti.

In Muzaffar Ali's 1981 film Umrao Jaan, Shabana Azmi's mother, Shaukat Kaifi, played the madam Khanum, who raised, trained, and exploited Umrao for all she was worth. Shabana ji took on the role in the 2006 version of the film by J.P. Dutta.

Who do you think was a better Khanum?

Shaukat Kaifi's Khanum is ruthless, even cruel. Even if she genuinely loves Umrao, she doesn't hesitate to sell her down the river when it's expedient to do so. Shuakat plays the character with exquisite control, registering a wide range of expression with little more than a cock of an eyebrow.

Shabana ji's Khanum chews the scenery as eagerly as she chews her paan, but there is a vulnerability to her (left unexplained by the film) that gives her a more genuinely maternal aspect than her mother's version of the character had.

So which one do you think is better? Not which film - just which Khanum. Vote in the poll at the right, and leave your comments below.