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!


Anonymous said...

I love, love this interview. I love seeing the uninhibited side to her. I love that she can make fun of herself. She's also so well-spoken and very intelligent. She's such a great actress and really a well-trained one.

She's so comfortable in interviews. I wish Tabu could appear half as comfortable as her Aunt Shabana with the media.

I can't wait for a new movie of Shabanaji to come out.

Anonymous said...

I had seen this interview on tv when it was on. I hadn't paid much attention to it then, but wow!

She is so comfortable in her own skin, its inspiring.

Since 'Mandi' has become the film I obsess about until something new comes out, I always looks for Shabanaji's quotes about the film or her character.

Thanks for putting it up Carla!


yves said...

Hi Carla,
Hmm... Very nice interview indeed. She has that awsome presence, hasn't she? And that winning smile, which she says she couldn't do! The passage I appreciated most was precisely that moment when she is asked how old she is, and she answers "53" with such a happy smile: so many women just don't know how to find reconciliation with their age problem! But for Shabanaji, it's an element of her battle, almost: she is 53, and that means she can fight, that she's free, that she's on duty for her country. And it makes her feel good!

Hans Meier said...

Hm, would love to see the interview (half for the facts revealed, half for seeing Mrs Azmi in a non-filmi (relatively) situation). Seems the link provided has changed or is useless now?
I like Azmi in all her roles i know so far, from Mandi to Ankur even to Honeymoon Travels (she and Boman the only highlight) and Om Shanti Om, where she parodies herself.