January 23, 2008

Shabana the pin-up girl

In Sai Paranjpe's wonderful movie Chashme buddoor (really, I can't recommend it highly enough - totally delightful) there are three students who live together in a tiny Delhi apartment. Each decorates his own wall with the images that appeal to him. Ravi Baswani's character is obsessed with the movies, and so he of course decorates his wall with pictures of film-stars clipped from magazines. And look who gets pride of place over his dresser:

Yep, it's Shabana Azmi, looking ever so glam and pouty. Here's a closer and brightened look:

This film came out in 1981, when Shabana ji was perhaps nearing her peak of glamorous starriness, before she threw herself into political activism (though already, of course, known for her arty, realist sensibility as an actor). She also had worked with Sai Paranjpe before (on the sweet film Sparsh) and was a good friend of Farouq Sheikh, who starred in Chashme buddoor. So it's perhaps not a surprise that she'd feature prominently here on Ravi Baswani's wall of film stars. But still - Shabana the pin-up girl - it's quite a different image from the one I am accustomed to. I would love to hear from people who remember Shabana ji's public image from those days; I'm obsessively curious about it.

(Thanks to Beth for the caps.)


Anonymous said...

In 1981, with movies like AAA and Parvarish behind her, she was well established as a popular film icon. But I remember that we used to think of her more as one of the two great actresses of Hindi movies ever along with Smita. She was certainly more glamorous than Smita, but still the popular image she had was more of a simple-looking homely girl who is a great actress and can make you cry (as opposed to of Zeenat Amaan or Parveen Bobby, who were considered glamour girls and were more probable candidates of pin-ups). Movies like Swami, Swarg-Narak, Ek Hi Raasta, Thodi Si Bewafaai made her popular among all kinds of audiences particularly women. So in a way she had demographically a very diverse and strange fan following. On one end she was liked by women for her roles in family socials, on the other by intellectual-types for her "art-films" performances. And then there were those who liked her as Vinod Khanna's (who was Amitabh's biggest rival at the time) pair on screen.

So considering all this, having a pin-up poster of her would not be totally out of place, but not very likely either. Besides you have to remember that you saw it in Sai's movie (talking of Sai, do watch her 'Katha' if you haven't. No Shabana, but it's a wonderful comedy), who herself was on the fringe.

Of course, this all is just one perspective.

BTW, just to let you know that I enjoy your posts on her a lot.

Filmi Geek said...

Vinay, thanks so much for the insights. Your description of Shabana Azmi as the homely girl reminds me of something that I'll put in another post.

Also the "diverse and strange fan following" - such a wonderful description; she does seem to have built and maintained a very dualist following, with one fit in the art-house and one foot in the mainstream (even if typically the artier, more realist side of mainstream).

I am glad you enjoy the blog!