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.

May 13, 2008

Shabana Azmi - now, in new peppermint flavor!

I've missed blogging about Shabana Azmi; it's real nice to get back to it.

Without this blog, I might miss pictures like this one:

One of the many reasons I hold Shabana ji in very high regard is her impeccably classy wardrobe. But this is the second bad sari post I've had to do here at SLP. Here's hoping it's just a random fluctuation rather than some deep flaw in the structure of the universe.

I will say this: Ain't nothing wrong with what's wrapped inside that awful sari. Shabana ji looks as gorgeous as ever!

Kaifiyat pictures

Thanks to a SLP reader for pointing me in the directions of some pictures from the launch of Kaifiyat, the re-released recording of Kaifi Azmi's poetry (mentioned here). The whole fam-damily was there, as my father would say:

Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Shabana's mother Shaukat, sister-in-law Tanvi Azmi, brother Baba Azmi and, um, someone else.

A closer look at Javed sahib, Shabana ji, Shaukat ji, Tanvi ji.

You can see more here.

May 12, 2008

Remembering Kaifi sahib

This weekend in Mumbai Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar commemorated the sixth anniversary of Kaifi Azmi's death with a re-release of a recording of Kaifi sahib reciting a number of his poems. Reports here and here. I haven't yet seen any pictures of this event but I'll let you know if that changes.

Shabana ji has been deeply inspired by her father and often cites two of his poems in particular, Aurat ("woman")and Makaan ("home, shelter") as particularly moving to her. The DNA India article about the re-release includes some lines from Aurat:

Jannat ek aur hai jo mard ke pahluu mein nahin
Uski aazaad ravish par bhi machalnaa hai tujhe
Uth meri jaan mere saath hi chalnaa hai tujhe
There is another heaven which is not by men's side
You must persist along its free paths as well
Arise, my love; you must walk with me.
There is a video interview I have linked elsewhere on this blog - I am not at the moment remembering which one it is, perhaps the Charlie Rose interview - in which Shabana ji talks about what a remarkable idea this poem expresses, and how far ahead of its time. Because sixty years ago, even the vanguard of the progressive movement was still overwhelmingly male; the men went out to fight for human rights and freedom from oppression, but even they expected their women to keep to their traditional duties. Yet here was Kaifi sahib exhorting his companion to march and fight by his side. It's no surprise that Shabana ji remembers this poem with pride.

May 11, 2008

"My lips are sealed."

I mentioned in my previous post that Shabana Azmi is not talking about whether there is a Benazir Bhutto bio-pic in the works. Here is a nice little Reuters video on that subject. Thanks to fadista di mouraria and the other readers who brought it to my attention.

The video also mentions Shabana ji's rumored association with a film about the founding of Bangladesh, a rumor Shabana ji denies. "I have no idea," she says; "I heard about it on television like all of you did."

May 9, 2008

Greetings, and roundup

My apologies for the unannounced hiatus, folks - a month has gotten away from me as I have been focused on projects unrelated to Hindi films (one of which, sadly, is my job). But I'm not happy with those priorities and don't want to let that happen again.

In the meantime, Shabana Azmi has been as busy as I have and so there is a lot of news to catch up on. Here's a roundup of some of the news from the last month.

  • Not much news on the possibility of a Benazir Bhutto biopic -TimesNow reports that there is something in the works, but Shabana ji won't talk about it.
  • There are some vague reports, though, like this one from the Press Trust of India, that Shabana ji is involved in a film about the founding of Bangladesh, to be directed by Shyam Benegal, in English. I'll keep an eye out for more on this interesting-sounding project.
  • There was news some time back that Shabana ji was involved in a project with director Rituparno Ghosh. But this report by Subhash K. Jha says that Ghosh has decided to make the film in Bengali instead and dropped the Hindi cast. I can't say I'm unhappy about this development - I don't much like the Rituparno Ghosh films I've seen, and the idea of remaking Kaagaz ke phool strikes me as daft, to say the least. I'd be excited for any new film with Shabana ji, but I'm just as happy for this not to be one of them.
  • Onir's comedy Sorry Bhai, starring Shabana ji, Boman Irani, Chitraganda Singh, and Sharman Joshi, is in post-production, and expected to be ready by the end of June. We should start seeing a release date and promotion soon. This is definitely one to look forward to, folks - it will be great.
  • In her activist avatar, Shabana ji spoke movingly last month at a conference of NGOs dedicated to issues of women's health. "It is sad that on one hand our country is emerging as a global power and on the other the health issues of women in rural areas go unnoticed. Even if it is not an institutional delivery, it is the right of every human being to give birth without any crisis," she said. You can read some of her other comments here.
I've got some more posts lined up for the future so I promise I won't vanish for a month again. But here's what you can do to help me out: write a guest post! Write something about Shabana Azmi - a film review, a list of your favorite movies, a paean extolling her virtues, or even a critique - and email it to me. I'll post with or without your name as you prefer. SLP is yours - please consider submitting a guest post.

The gorgeous sure didn't disappear during my absence!