September 18, 2008

Birthday wishes

I have not forgotten Shabana Azmi's birthday.

Warmest birthday wishes to the great lady, who turns 58 today.

I have not forgotten you, either, the readers of SLP. I've just been very, very tired and have had to cut back on the extracurriculars for a while as I work through some things. I would like to keep up with the news of Shabana ji and keep you all posted as well. But for the last couple of months the energy to do that simply hasn't been there. I will try to get back to a more regular posting schedule soon. In the meantime, please bear with me, accept my apologies, and read my comments on Loins of Punjab Presents, which I finally got to see last weekend.

August 8, 2008

Loins of Punjab Presents finally on U.S. screens

It's been a long, long wait - nearly a year - but Manish Vij over at Ultrabrown reports that Manish Acharya's Loins of Punjab Presents ... is finally seeing a (limited) U.S. theatrical release.

Manish says the film, a screwball and very original comedy about a small-time desi talent contest in New Jersey starring Shabana Azmi, Ajay Naidu, and a bunch of other talented folks, will open September 12th on two screens in New York, and will later show in the San Francisco bay area, Chicago, and a few other cities.

I hope that if it does well it can be picked up for an even wider distribution. There are at least two art houses in metro Boston where it would fit right in to the usual program. But I am not going to wait to find out; I think I'll be heading to New York for that opening weekend. It's absurd that I have still not seen this movie.

August 4, 2008


The first real star I met as a journalist was Shabana Azmi. Long before meeting her I idolised her. As a rookie I still remember how fast my heart pounded as I sat wide-eyed in the portico of her beautiful house in Janki Kutir, waiting for her to emerge from inside. When she eventually did in a chic salwar-kameez, her hair falling to her shoulder and her eyes penetrating into a horizon far beyond human vision, time just froze.
-- Subhash K. Jha.

Source: An edition of Jha's Times of India column from a few weeks ago. I'm not a big fan of Jha - he's an inveterate name-dropper, and this particular article seems to have no other purpose - but these comments struck me; I think all of us who idolize Shabana ji can sympathize. I'm sure that once time started moving again for Mr. Jha, he was able to do the business he went to her house to do, and to leave with a good interview for his editor. When I met Shabana Azmi, though - it's still only been the one time - I lost my tongue, and was unable to make any impression on her whatsoever. I hope I'll be able to keep my head a bit better, next time.

July 25, 2008

Priorities in order

TV shows extremes – either the women will be as good as gold or wicked as the Devil. When somebody tells me that women are being portrayed in the bad light or as subservient, I consider it far more objectionable than women dressing up skimpily and celebrating their sexuality.
-- Shabana Azmi

Source: This article about Shabana ji's role in Ekta Kapoor's "Kaun jeetega Bollywood ka ticket," which I mentioned here not long ago. Shabana ji astutely touches upon a very important point. To object to the portrayal of women as human beings with autonomous sexuality is to perpetuate the dichotomy that is described in Western culture as the Madonna-whore problem. It shows in Shabana ji's body of work (among other things) that she recognizes the importance of a woman's freedom to express her own sexuality as she chooses, and that a dramatic portrayal of a woman doing so is not automatically cheap, improper, or objectionable.

July 17, 2008

Gratuitous screencaps: Main Azaad hoon (1989)

Marbs and Sally aced the trivia question I posted the other day: the two movies that Javed Akhtar wrote and Shabana Azmi starred in were Jhoothi shaan and the subject of today's gratuitous screencaps, Main Azaad hoon.

Main Azaad hoon is, to my knowledge, the only movie in which Shabana Azmi starred opposite Amitabh Bachchan. It was a pretty good movie - I have a half-written review which will be posted at Filmi Geek some time in the next couple of days. Until then, here are the screencaps.

(I doctored that one - the print I watched had dreadful color in some scenes)

July 15, 2008

Trivia: Written just for her

It seemed like a nice time for another installment of SLP's semi-regular trivia feature.

Should Shabana Azmi ever retire from the movies, I have a fantasy about her final film. My fantasy is that Javed Akhtar will write a script just for Shabana ji and she will win her sixth National Film Award for the role.

As it happens, Javed Akhtar considers himself rather a man's scriptwriter, and probably has no tour-de-force role for his wife lurking, as yet unwritten, in his pen. He has, however, written two films (that I know of) in which Shabana ji has starred. Can you name them?

Here is a hint:

This is a screencap from one of them, which I watched last week; the review will be going up at Filmi Geek in a couple of days, followed by more screencaps here.

July 14, 2008

Video interview "Cover Story"

Great thanks to reader Mihiri who left me this fabulous link in a comment a couple of weeks ago; it slipped off my radar screen somehow (Blogger handles comments somewhat inelegantly) and I missed it until quite recently.

What it is: a lovely video interview of Shabana Azmi from about four years ago, by Vir Sanghvi for (what I presume is) a television show called Cover Story. In the twenty-minute interview Shabana ji sings a Carnatic swaram, and discusses the difference between commercial acting and art-cinema acting, the Stanislavski method, why she became a film actor, being afraid to smile, why she decided to join a hunger strike for the rights of displaced slum-dwellers, and why she has refused to join any political party, among other things.

My favorite part of the interview is a story that is both about Shabana ji and about her parents. In 1986, Shabana Azmi joined her famous first hunger strike for Nivara Haq, an organization devoted to fighting for slum-dwellers whose homes are destroyed by government and private development, because she felt it was useless for her to lend her voice to the organization if she was not also prepared to go the distance demonstrating with them. It was a decision she made from the heart, quite risky for her career and her public perception, but she believed it was the right thing to do. Government officials tried to convince her mother, Shaukat Kaifi, to stop her, but Shaukat would not. Still, Shaukat was concerned for her daughter's well-being, and when Shabana ji's hunger strike was five days old, she sent a telegram to Shabana's father, Kaifi Azmi, who was then away in Patna. She's getting sick, Shaukat said, what can I do? Please talk some sense into her. Kaifi's response: "Best of luck, comrade."

You can watch the video here. (A note: I was only able to play the video in Internet Explorer; the player interacted poorly with my ad-blocker in Firefox.) And thanks again to Mihiri!

July 12, 2008

Gouri Dange on Tanvi Azmi

I just came across a lovely piece by Gouri Dange, whom I mentioned here a few days ago. Ms. Dange is a very close friend of Shabana Azmi's sister-in-law Tanvi Azmi, and has republished on her blog an article she wrote about Tanvi a few years ago.

Tanvi and I have spent the last 15 years talking non-stop, laughing recklessly, eating too much, observing mercilessly, arguing gently, crossword solving furiously, weeping occasionally, ranting full-throadely, and exchanging the deepest of secrets - to the exclusion of anyone else - husbands, etc too. A tarot reader recently declared us soul-sisters. We didn't need her to tell us that.
Read the rest of the piece on Ms. Dange's blog.

A visit with Shabana ji

Going through some older news clips, I came across a sweet blog posting that I had missed previously. It is by someone named Ananda, on a blog that appears to be affiliated with an orphanage in China called Home of Hope. Ananda writes:

Today I had lunch with Shabana Azmi at her home.... We spent a very pleasant afternoon together. As soon as I entered her home, she wanted to know the secret of my “trimness”. And insisted that I show her my work out. So I spent the first half hour a exercise consultant, and we did crunches together on the floor. ..she is quite an impulsive lady !
The post goes on to say that Shabana agreed to endorse Ananda's Home of Hope project, so perhaps we will hear more about this in the future. You can read the rest of Ananda's post here.

July 10, 2008


Imagine [me] being a mother and holding a thali and then saying, "Nahi!" and dropping the thali. If this were the case, I would have packed up and gone a long time ago.
-- Shabana Azmi

Source: A new interview in the Times of India. I am, just like Shabana ji, very grateful that directors are finding more interesting roles for her than thali-dropping, "nahin"-yelling, distraught mothers.

In the interview Shabana Ji also talks about Farhan Akhtar's new movie Rock On (she loves it) and his rock-star predilections; about her television talent contest Kaun jeetega Bollywood ka Ticket; and about doing comedy.

In fact the most interesting portion of the interview may be this:
She was in Delhi to shoot for Anubhav Sinha’s Rajdhani Express, which she describes as “a completely mad film. It is a political satire on the lines of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. In fact, Anubhav, who has written it, says that it is his ode to Jaane Bhi...”
I had not thus far encountered very much news about Anubhav Sinha's political satire, so this is quite nice to see. As always, more news when it's available.

The very lovely picture above also comes from the Times of India piece.

July 9, 2008

First look at Sorry Bhai

Glamsham has a little piece about Onir's Sorry Bhai, in which Shabana Azmi is again paired with Boman Irani. It includes the first still I've seen from the film, reproduced above. There is still no release date, though the article says "next year." I was hoping for a fall 2008 release.

July 8, 2008

Rock On - music launch

Yesterday Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar were at the music launch for Farhan Akhtar's upcoming film, Rock On. Farhan is not the director of this film - he's its star. Apparently he enjoyed making the film quite a bit. It seems there's nothing Farhan cannot do - he sang his own songs for the film, and gave a rocking performance at the launch. Here is a blog post with lots more about the launch.

That's Javed sahib and Shabana ji at the launch, with Shabana ji's sister-in-law Tanvi Azmi. I am not sure who the woman on the left is but I am going to guess that she is Tanvi's daughter.

Kaun jeetega Bollywood ka ticket

I don't generally follow Indian television so I come in late with this news: Shabana Azmi is mixed up in another talent contest TV show, this one entitled "Kaun jeetega Bollywood ka ticket." The title means "who will win a ticket to Bollywood?" - and, apparently, the show's prize is a role in a mainstream film. The show began airing in India on Sunday.

According to this piece, Shabana ji is in charge of mentoring contestants from the eastern portion of India. When asked what connection to the east drew her into that role, she credited eastern legends like Satyajit Ray and Gautam Ghose as significant influences in her career. Here's some more news about the show, which is apparently produced by Ekta Kapoor (a friend of Shabana ji's best known for producing wildly popular television serials). Zeenat Aman is also slated to be a judge on the show, along with actor Amrita Singh and director Mahesh Manjrekar.

"I'm glad for once that this show has three women as mentors and not just a token woman as judge," Shabana ji says according to this article about the show. That's certainly Ekta Kapoor's deliberate touch at work.

I'm sure clips from this show will turn up on the internet sooner or later so I will keep you posted if I come across any.

UPDATE: Here's a link to a source for on-line viewing of the first episode. I haven't tried it myself so I can't vouch for the quality.

July 7, 2008

News roundup

I've just caught up on a couple of weeks' worth of Shabana Azmi news, and I've written several posts which I'll put up for you over the next week or so. (Hey, you can't expect me to use up all the good stuff at once!)

Here are a few interesting news items to get started:

  • Shabana ji appeared at the launch of author Gouri Dange's new book 3 Zakia Mansion. Shabana ji read excerpts from the novel and spoke very highly of it. Ms. Dange herself was kind enough to leave a comment here at SLP the other day, and I invite her to please tell us more about herself and about her work. In the meantime, you can read a little about the book here at the SmasHits wesbite, and see some pictures from the event (including the one at the top of this post - as usual, click the picture for a better look). I also found a lovely video of the event, which you can watch here.
  • I mentioned some months ago that Shabana Azmi had a kind of mentor role for Smita Patil's son Prateik. Prateik's debut movie Jaane tu ya jaane na (Aamir Khan's production) opened this week. Here's a short interview in which Prateik talks a bit about the movie and about Shabana ji. "She is like my mom," he says.
  • Finally, a number of news outlets carried a news wire report that Shabana Azmi has been appointed by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as a Good Will Ambassador for its HIV/AIDS program in its member countries. "Apparently, the actress' name was recommended by National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)," the article reports. It continues: "Shabana's role as a Goodwill Ambassador would involve facilitating the implementation of SAARC regional strategy on HIV and AIDS. She would also take up the issue of creating awareness about the deadly disease." This is really big news, a huge honor for Shabana ji, which I believe she will also take as a huge responsibility and a huge opportunity to make a significant difference on the problems of HIV and AIDS, problems I know she cares about very much. I look forward to reporting more about this here as the story develops.

July 6, 2008

Gay pride parades in India

This isn't directly related to Shabana Azmi, but it's news that impressed me, and thought would be of interest to some of SLP's readers.

Last week India saw gay pride parades in several cities; the first ever in Bangalore and Delhi. There were also marchers in Kolkata, where pride parades have occurred for some years already. (Mumbai also has an annual gay pride parade, which occurs on August 16, India's Independence Day.) The parades' organizer, Lesley Esteves, said that 1500 people marched in Delhi, about ten times as many as she expected.

You can listen to an NPR piece about the parades here.

And just to tie this weakly back to SLP relevance, here is a piece by Subhash K. Jha about Deepa Mehta's reaction to the parades. “I wish I could be there," Mehta says. "My heart swells with pride when ‘Fire’ is mentioned as a favourite film on alternate sexuality. If ‘Fire’ has inspired the homosexual community, I guess I have much to be proud of.”

July 3, 2008

Gratuitous screencaps: Chor Sipahee (1977)

Here are some adorable screencaps from another film I haven't seen, Chor sipahee. You can read what Beth, who provided the screencappy goodness, has to say about the film here. It seems Shabana Azmi did not have an enormous part - but she did ride a motorcycle.

The outfit is questionable, the hair is interesting:

Tawaif routine, with Shashi Kapoor for company:

Glam, and quite lovely:

Listening carefully with Vinod Khanna:

No comment!

June 28, 2008

Getting her smooch on

In fact my husband complains that I've done a kissing scene with a man in another movie and I don't look as convincing as I do with Nandita [Das], and he wants to know what that's all about.
-- Shabana Azmi

Source: a fab interview posted here on the BollyWHAT? forum; I don't have the original source, but the interview is probably about 4 years old.

This comment made me spit out my coffee the first time I read it and still tickles me. But I've always wondered, what movie does it refer to? I didn't think it was this, from Fakira...

... because as cute and tasty as that is, the screencap is actually a little misleading; this kiss happens as the two actors are turning away from the camera and, in motion, is really more of a Bollywood-ishtyle simulacrum of a kiss than it looks in the still.

Well I have, by the wonderful magic of YouTube, accidentally stumbled upon the following, which is probably the scene Shabana ji was talking about in the above-quoted remark. Hold onto your socks, folks; wait for the second half of the clip.

Oh my! That is from the 1992 British film with the unpromising title Immaculate Conception, a film about which I know absolutely nothing. Have any of you seen it? At any rate, as startling as the clip is, I am inclined to agree with Javed sahib: Fire was more convincing.

June 27, 2008

"Tum se roshan hai," Lorie (1984)

Today's Shabana-gaana is "Tum se roshan hai" from the 1984 film Lorie. The song features Shabana Azmi looking particularly lovely and Farooq Shaikh looking particularly fuzzy.

Lorie is also the answer to SLP's first trivia question, which I posted last week. The question was: Name a film to which three Azmis contributed their talents. Lorie featured Shabana ji in a starring role, Shabana ji's mother Shaukat Kaifi in a supporting role, and Shabana ji's brother Baba Azmi, behind the camera as cinematographer. I haven't yet seen this film so I can't say much more about it.

Thanks to a great SLP reader - you know who you are - for the trivia question and the song clip.

June 26, 2008


Still no nibbles at the trivia question I posted the other day. I will have the answer for you on Friday, along with this week's Shabana-gaana, which will be a song from a film that answers the question.

To whet your appetites and stimulate your memories in the meantime, I offer you a delicious screencap from the song, capturing the precise moment (11 seconds in) at which I, watching the song on YouTube, melted into a helpless puddle of goo:

Here's another hint: I have yet to see this film, so it is not listed among the links at right to my reviews of Shabana Azmi's films.

June 24, 2008

This time I am sure who it is

Okay, this is the earliest picture of Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar that I have yet to see. In contrast to a similar previous post in which I made a total ass of myself with one of my more boneheaded factual errors, this time I will restrain my squee to a more dignified pitch.

They are completely gorgeous, though, are they not?

June 22, 2008

A milestone, and a new feature

Hard to believe, but Sounds Like Power is one year old today. What a fun ride it's been! I thank you all for coming along with me as I follow, admire, worship, laud, critique, and occasionally criticize Shabana Azmi. Here's to another great year! There will be a lot to talk about with all of Shabana ji's new projects, and I look forward to hearing from you all.

A reader suggested a Shabana Azmi trivia feature, along the lines of "Trivia Time" over at Memsaab Story (which blog also turns 1 year old today). I think this is a nice idea, and so I'll kick it off with the question she suggested, and start thinking of some more I can toss out in the future.

So here is the first installment of SLP Trivia:

Name a film to which three Azmis contributed their talents.

I know of one answer, but there are possibly more.

June 17, 2008

A royal invitation

This is a funny story. Times of India reports that Prince Charles has invited Shabana Azmi (along with Javed Akhtar and a number of other Indian luminaries) for a four-day stay at Buckingham Palace to discuss cooperation between the UK and India regarding charitable causes.

Shabana ji's fellow guests include industrialists Mukesh Ambani, Laxmi Mittal and Ratan Tata.

The tone of the TOI piece suggests that Shabana ji is rather bemused at the invitation. "I really don’t know how these opportunities come my way," she said. "They just seem to fall into my lap."

June 16, 2008

A mother role in a Karan Johar film?

A couple of years ago on Koffee with Karan, Shabana Azmi told Karan Johar that she would not have wanted any of the roles Jaya Bachchan played in his movies, because the women were doormats with no discernible character arc. Today, though, comes a rumor that Karan Johar has finally come up with a role that piqued Shabana ji's interest.

The word from "" is that Shabana ji has signed on to play Shah Rukh Khan's mother in Johar's next, Khan, a film about the persecution and isolation experienced by Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. According to the article:

When contacted to confirm her presence in the film, Shabana just laughed and said, "Main chup rahungi."
That is, "no comment." But is one of those innumerable worthless aggregators that auto-copy content from other places without attribution, so I can offer no odds on the truth of this item. As always I'll keep an eye out and let you know when I hear about this from a reputable source, or indeed any identified source at all. UPDATE: Here's the same story in the Mumbai Mirror, this time with a byline - Subhash K. Jha. Jha is an obsequious hack, but stars do seem to answer his calls, so if he says he talked to Shabana Azmi he probably did.

If you haven't voted in the June poll over on the right, though, consider Khan one of the choices - use the "other" button and let us know in the comments on the poll's introductory post.

June 15, 2008

Shabana Azmi narrates a history of filmi music

Thanks to HemaMalini at the BollyWHAT forum (not that Hema Malini :) for bringing this spectacular video series to my attention. It is a history of filmi music, narrated by Shabana Azmi. The first segment is embedded below.

There are 14 segments altogether! Here is a link to a search that should help you find all of them.

Judging by Shabana ji's appearance in this video (screencap below) I'd say this was shot in the early 1980s; I have not yet watched the whole series and the date may become more obvious later on. The Hindi narration is very good practice for me, as Shabana ji's diction is slow and clear, but it would take me hours upon hours to thoroughly translate and transcribe all of the text in all 14 segments so I am afraid you are on your own.

June 14, 2008

Pictures from June 1986 Filmfare

I mentioned that I'd picked up a 22-year-old back issue of Filmfare with a cover story on Shabana Azmi. Here are scans of some of the images from the magazine. Click on the pictures for larger (in some cases, much larger) versions.

The cover:

A closer look at that image:

The two-page pinup inside:

... and a closer look at that as well:

And finally a couple of black-and-white looks at the adorable blunt cut:

June 13, 2008

"Lawangi mirchi," Ashanti (1982)

Today's Shabana-gaana is from the movie Ashanti, a Charlie's Angels-esque story in which Shabana Azmi joins Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi, Rajesh Khanna, and Mithun Chakraborty in a quest to take down a nasty gang of drug dealers and thieves who have wreaked havoc in each of their lives.

I had been saving this song until I saw the movie, and last night I finally got my chance - I sat down to watch it with David and Greta - but the DVD crapped out halfway through. We barely got to see Shabana Azmi fire a pistol, and we missed both of her songs. I'll finish the movie and review it fully as soon as I get my hands on a working copy. In the meantime, here is "Lawangi mirchi," the final song from the film, which I was really looking forward to seeing in somewhat better quality than this dinky YouTube stream:

June 12, 2008

Good stuff to come

I just received a package from India containing 1986 issue of Filmfare magazine with Shabana Azmi on the cover. The article is a long, rambly monologue in which she reminisces about ten or so different films. As soon as I get a chance to read it through I'll give you the highlights here. I'll scan the pictures too - just wait till you see Shabana ji in a blunt cut with bangs. Adorable!

Also, I started to watch Ashanti with Greta last night, but the DVD pooped out halfway through just when the movie started to get good. We didn't even get to see Shabana ji's two songs! Fortunately they are available on YouTube so look for that to be tomorrow's Shabana-gaana.

June 10, 2008

June poll: most anticipated upcoming project?

Here we are, ten days into the month, and I remain completely without inspiration for a poll topic. So instead of something clever and interesting I have resorted to the very dull question: which of Shabana Azmi's upcoming projects are you looking forward to the most?

Here is a rundown of the choices with links to where they were discussed on SLP.

Kalpvriksh: Manika Sharma's fairy tale, ready for release later this year. No word yet on Shabana ji's role, but the film looks promising and cute.

Sorry Bhai: Onir's romantic comedy, also expected later this year. The return of the popular pair of Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani makes this one too promising to miss.

Hamlet adaptation: Another Onir project, recently announced; I have my doubts about this one but will keep an open mind.

Benazir Bhutto biopic: Mahesh Bhatt's production hit some setbacks, and I never heard whether Shabana ji was in consideration for Robert Redford's Hollywood version. But the latest news on this was that something was going on that Shabana ji was not talking about.

Anubhav Singh satire: This only came up once, but so tickled am I by the prospect of Shabana Azmi in a political satire that I had to include it in the poll.

Other: if you browse the upcoming films section of SLP you will see lots of rumors and speculation of projects that don't pan out. Maybe some of these are simply shelved and will emerge, renewed, at a later time. If your most anticipated Shabana ji film is one of these, or even something else that I've missed, choose "other" and let us know in the comments.

In other news, I'd like to send out once more my desperate appeal: send me guests posts, folks, please. I want you to contribute to SLP. I can't be the only person on Earth whose keyboard is busting out to talk about Shabana Azmi. Send me your essays, reviews, comments, poetry, whatever. I will post them anonymously if you like. Just write to me at filmigeek at comcast dot net and get yourself heard on SLP.

June 6, 2008

Kalpvriksh (The Wish Tree)

Thanks to Aung for bringing this big news to my attention. Shabana Azmi is in a kids' film called Kalpvriksh, directed by Manika Sharma. The film looks like it will be ready for release later this year.

The film's official website offers just a little information but it sounds like a very interesting project, potentially very enchanting and delightful. Here's the basic outline of the story, from the website:

KalpVriksh – THE WISH TREE is a magical, inspirational and an extremely entertaining story of five children in a hill-station who come together to save their ‘wishing tree’ (KALPVRIKSH) from being cut by vested interests. The film is extremely lively, entertaining, endearing and engrossing so that the underlying message to protect trees and environment is seamlessly driven home.
Also piquing my interest is the description of the films songs, which sound they have very thoughtfully crafted and lush visuals:
The Earth song is a colorful collage of images to tell the story of the Earth’s evolution. As we travel over snow capped mountain peaks to gushing waterfalls and rivers, pupae turn into butterfly and a giant dragonfly flaps its wings across the sky over a dense tropical forest.

Dhanua’s dhaba song is his fantasy on the other side of life, where his abusive and exploitative owner, Shankar dada transforms into a sorrier version of Dhanua in rags and Dhanua becomes the Don (the underworld King) of the dhaba, flashing a white three piece suit and a red shining car. This song is in theatrical genre.

Nikita’s concert song on stage as a rock-star is complete showbiz. It’s the opening song of the film and resembles a Michael Jackson concert in which the fans are fainting with awe and adrenalin is running high.

The celebration of the tree song is vibrant and has the raw energy of nature. It throbs with life. The tree sways from side to side and dances, shivers and gurgles like a baby with the children. The Wishing tree is happy to come back to life after thousands of years with the love and faith of the children.

KALPVRIKSH is a very visual film. All the scenes in the film are color-coded, they fall within a certain scheme of colors according to the mood and inner journey of the characters. For instance Sean’s room is blue, reflecting his state of mind. He misses his father constantly.
The cast is also listed on the website, and in addition to Shabana ji includes Saurabh Shukla, Makrand Deshpande (who was so wonderful in another kids' movie that Shabana ji was in, Makdee), and others, as well as a guest appearance by Shah Rukh Khan. I am very excited to hear more about this project and I will of course keep you posted. Between this one and Sorry Bhai, the second half of 2008 should be a good one for Shabana films.

June 5, 2008

April poll redux - best younger man for Shabana Azmi

It's well past time for the results of the April poll, which asked who would be the preferred younger man for a, shall we say May-September romance story with Shabana Azmi?

The clear winner, with 11 votes (a third of the total), was Irfan Khan, and may I just take this opportunity to say rrrowr! Irfan Khan is a very handsome guy and a fine, fine actor to boot. He has been matched with Shabana ji's niece Tabu more than once, and I think a romance between him and Shabana would possibly cause movie screens to burst into flames. Need I mention that Irfan received my own vote?

Not too far behind Irfan, though, two more Khans tied for second place: Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan each received 7 votes, cementing their rivalry even here at SLP. So I propose a plot in which the two of them compete for Shabana ji's attention. Need I specify who wins that struggle in my imagined film? Well, okay, I will - Dimple Kapadia, in a twist that surprises everyone.

The brooding Rahul Bose put up a respectable showing with four votes, and this, too, is a pairing I would not be opposed to, as I think he has the gravitas and the skill to match up well with Shabana ji on screen.

Next is the young Kunal Kapoor, with two votes. Kunal is not to my taste physically (though he is generally considered quite dreamy) but seems to be a talented actor. Still, in my view he's too young for this job; it's hard to imagine effective, believable sexual tension between him and Shabana ji on screen.

Bringing up the rear are Akshaye Khanna and Saif Ali Khan with just one vote each. I'm not sure why they received such a poor showing. Saif Ali Khan managed some interesting tension with Dimple Kapadia in Being Cyrus and I think, given the right script, a romance between him and Shabana could be very sexy, in a creepy sort of way. As to Akshaye Khanna, perhaps memories of the lush chemistry between Shabana ji and his father hurt his performance in this poll.

Stay tuned for the June poll - I've no idea what it will be yet, but I am hopeful that inspiration will strike in the next several days.

June 4, 2008

Family portrait

... make that "Exceptionally beautiful family portrait."

Isn't that just lovely? Click the image to see it in all its full-sized glory.

June 3, 2008

The populist poet

I have always aimed at making poetry understandable even to a person who does not have the remotest idea of the art. If I can't communicate my lines to people what's the use of making it public?
Source: This interview on Glamsham. In the above comment Javed Akhtar sahib sums up what I admire most about his work: it is poetic, evocative, and original, while still being accessible. As a learner of Hindi I particularly appreciate this, as I can both understand his writing and appreciate its cleverness.

In the interview Javed sahib also makes his favorite joke about his marriage to Shabana Azmi:
Our friendship is so strong that even marriage could not ruin it.
Thanks to Steena at the BollyWHAT forums for calling the interview to my attention.

May 26, 2008

O, what a rash and bloody deed is this

This news report comes from a very questionable source, and I won't believe it until I see it printed elsewhere, but: According to this sketchy downloads blog, Onir's next film will be an adaptaion of Hamlet in which Shabana Azmi plays Queen Gertrude and Boman Irani, Polonius. Sounds appealing, but as I said, I reserve credulity on this one.

Onir has just finished Sorry Bhai with Shabana ji, Boman sahib, Chitraganda Singh, Sanjay Suri, and Sharman Joshi, and we should have some pre-release news on that in the near future.

UPDATE: Here is the story from a somewhat more established source, Hindustan Times, who report that Siddharth and Soha Ali Khan are playing Hamlet and Ophelia. I have to say I am not convinced this is such a hot idea, but we'll see what happens as the story unfolds.

May 16, 2008

"Kya tumne hai keh diya" - Saaz

Last weekend I saw an absolutely outstanding concert by Zakir Hussain - it was the fourth or fifth time I've seen him and let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to see him, just drop everything and go. Anyhow in light of that wonderful experience it seemed appropriate that the first post-hiatus Shabana-gaana should be "Kya tumne hai keh diya" from Sai Paranjpe's Saaz - featuring both Shabana Azmi and Zakir sahib. I've not seen this movie yet but I've got it in my collection, and as Sai Paranjpe is well on her way to becoming one of my favorite directors, I'm sure I'll watch it in the near future. Enjoy the song.

May 15, 2008

Why they love her


"[Shabana Azmi] brings out the best in you and raises your performing level without even making you realize she's doing it. She carries a scene beyond the written word."
-- Chitraganda Singh. (Source.)

Chitraganda Singh stars with Shabana ji in Onir's upcoming film Sorry Bhai along with Sanjay Suri, Boman Irani, and Sharman Joshi. And she is now one of a long line of young actors who have had high praise for Shabana ji as a co-star and a mentor.

"Shabana is the most fun person."
-- Onir. (Source.)

Onir confirms that Shabana ji is a director's actor; while she sometimes has strong opinions about the way a scene should unfold, she will express her view and then defer to the director's judgment. Onir talks about that here.

May 14, 2008

LOL Shabana!

Tuesday was my birthday, and in the weirdly adorable and addicting spirit of I can haz cheezburger, the incomparable Beth made me these pictures in honor of the day. They just need to be shared. Click for larger images.