September 25, 2011

Healing with ... what?

I saw this press release the other day that reported Shabana Azmi taking enthusiastic part in a book launch for "well-known homeopath Dr. Mukesh Batra." (I have shamelessly cropped Dr. Batra and others out of the above picture; please follow the link to see it.) Shabana ji said at the event that she believes in homeopathy, and praised Dr. Batra for helping relieve her pain and speeding the healing when she suffered a leg fracture. She also credited him for her beautiful skin.

The press release gave me pause. To me, the word "homeopathy" refers to the use of hyper-dilute "solutions" in which nothing is left of any active ingredient other than some mystical molecular memory. I believe this is utter quackery, snake oil of the lowest order. It includes such arrant nonsense as the claim that these solutions become more effective as they become more dilute. In short, I think it's rubbish, and that purveyors of it should be prosecuted, not praised.

But I did some research before sitting down to write this post, because I know that the term "homeopathy" has a broader usage as well, that refers to a wider variety of what we in the West sometimes call "alternative" medicine, natural medicine, or holistic medicine. That is far too broad of a scope for me (even as a fairly narrow-minded rationalist) to dismiss out of hand. Reading the press release, it sounds to me like Shabana ji, Dr. Batra, and his book are using the word in this broader sense. I did a sanity check with an Indian friend of mine, who also understood the word that way (and spoke very highly of her own experience with practitioners).

If Shabana ji believes that she has been helped by such natural and holistic remedies, I have no quibble with that, and no concern for either her good sense or her well-being. I would worry about someone who would reject scientifically-developed treatments for serious ailments - I wouldn't mess around with cancer, for example - but for pain remedies, or mild stimulation, or treating cold symptoms and the like, I can readily believe that natural remedies are often as effective (if not more so in some cases) than pharmaceuticals. So, it was just the term "homeopathy" - its two very different meanings - that threw me in this case.

This video puff piece has some more about Shabana ji's relationship with Dr. Batra, and some clips of both Shabana ji and Javed Akhtar looking wonderful.

September 22, 2011

That is some guest list ...

The Times of India yesterday had this report with more information about how Shabana Azmi spent her birthday at her new Khandala home, named Sukoon ("peace, tranquility"). Lots of fascinating people stopped by to pay their respects. In the picture above you can see Nandita Das with her little child, and Konkona Sen Sharma. To our right of Shabana ji is, I believe, Sandhya Mridul. And that fellow over on the end ... the text says it's Anil Kapoor, and it does look like him - 30 years ago though. Perhaps it's the youthful clothes ... at any rate, a very flattering picture.

Also present, according to the report: Urmila Matondkar, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Poonam Dhillon, and a bunch of others. (Perhaps one of these years I'll get myself invited.) One thing I'll say, I love the way that many of the younger women Shabana ji has worked with - Urmila, Nandita, Konkona, Sandhya among them - remain close to her years after those projects. It's lovely, and it speaks to what a marvelous mentor and friend she must be.

September 18, 2011

Janam din mubarak ho, Shabana ji

"... tu jiye hazaaron saal, yeh meri hai arzoo! "

Real life reared its head in an ugly way for me the last few days, so I did not have time to plan and execute a special post for Shabana ji's 61st birthday.

According to this report, she spent a lovely day in Khandala with her family. I wish her many, many more such celebrations.

And check out this slideshow from IBN chronicling some of her iconic roles. I especially liked this one from City of Joy, which I haven't yet seen.

I'm pretty sure that four of the pictures in IBN's slideshow are screen captures that I collected myself and have posted here over the years. Delighted to see others enjoying them!

I'm not sure when I'll get to it, but the next Hindi movie I plan to watch is Basu Chatterjee's Apne paraye, starring Shabana ji and Amol Palekar. I'll report back soon ...

September 13, 2011

Okay, maybe I finally get the point of Twitter.

An exchange from earlier today, offered without further comment ...

Kaifi & I

Longtime commenter and friend of SLP Sally reminded me that Shaukat Kaifi's memoir, Kaifi aur Main, has now been published in an English translation. As much as I'd love to read the book in Urdu, I allowed myself a moment of realism and bought a copy of the translation.

It arrived today, and I'll make posts about it here as I read it.

Oh, and in case you are new to SLP or to Shabana Azmi, let me be less cryptic - Shaukat Kaifi is Shabana Azmi's mother; the book is reminiscence about life with Kaifi Azmi, Shabana ji's father. The blurb from Amartya Sen on the back of the book says: "They were united not only by love and marriage, but also by an individually assessed joint commitment to social change, artistic creativity, and personal and political ethics. In this excellent translation we have a lively account of an important part of Indian history...."

September 9, 2011

Cutting a rug at Love, Breakup, Zindagi music launch

Shabana Azmi was spotted earlier this week letting loose at the music launch for her friend Dia Mirza's new movie, Love Breakups Zindagi. Here is the story at Daily Bhaksar, also carried by other sources.

How cute is that?

More pictures of the launch here at Prokerala.

Javed sahib wrote the lyrics for the songs, which I haven't listened to yet. He was at the launch too, of course.

(Picture source)

September 7, 2011

"Jaan ab ja rahi hai," - Khel khilari ka (1977)

Remember the Shabana-gaana feature? Back when I used to update Sounds Like Power obsessively, I reserved Fridays for interesting (for better or worse) song picturizations featuring Shabana Azmi.

This week the feature returns with "Jaan ab ja rahi hai," a qawwali from the 1977 movie Khel khilari ka. I'd never heard of this film before and assume that it's thoroughly forgettable - but the song itself is not half bad. I don't care much for Shabana ji's outfit - there seemed in this era to be a lot of dressing tawaifs and female qawwals in Pepto-Bismol colored suits -but she handles herself with reasonable competence, doing something much closer to real dancing than you usually see from her.

I am not sure who all the men are who join her partway through the song - the video quality is too poor for me to tell for sure. I am pretty sure I spotted Shakti Kapoor. And, with the help of Memsaab's incredible resource, the Artist Gallery, I confidently identified a fellow named Dhruv, whom to my knowledge I have never seen before.

September 6, 2011

On Muslims in India

Another video for you today as I continue to catch up. This is not a new piece - it's an IBN interview from 2008 - but I hadn't seen it before.

In the interview, Shabana Azmi talks about Muslim identity India. She notes that Indian Muslims are in a relatively good position, compared to Muslims in other parts of the world, because they are stakeholders in a democracy, and there are prominent Muslims in many walks of life (for example, movies and politics) that can serve as role models.

I don't feel qualified to judge whether I agree or disagree with Shabana ji's statements here. What do you think?

September 3, 2011

Al Jazeera Interview

"Every time you make a statement about India, the opposite is also true."

-- Shabana Azmi

Catching up on Shabana Azmi news I missed during my hiatus, I have come across quite a few newer videos that I'll pass along here, on the off chance anyone is reading. Back in April, Shabana ji gave an English-language interview to Al Jazeera, which you can watch here on YouTube.

The interview doesn't cover any new ground, if you are a long-time Shabanaficionado like myself. The interviewer asks easy questions that allow her to trot out her well-rehearsed lines - about art being an instrument for social change, about India living in several centuries simultaneously, about only seeing Javed sahib in airports, and other familiar topics.

Still, it's enjoyable to watch, especially to me as a sort of re-introduction after not hearing Shabana ji's voice on a regular basis for so long. Toward the end, she does make some interesting comments about religion and tolerance. And the video opens with some charming pictures of Shabana as a young girl, including this one that I'd never seen before:

Everyone: awwwwwwwww!

September 1, 2011

"Massive Food Coma"

"Am suffering from massive food coma from Eid at our home and Ganesh Chaturthi at my sis in law Tanvi's place"

-- Shabana Azmi

Did you know that both Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar are on Twitter? I am not a huge Twitter user myself - I have tried to get into it but (probably for the best) haven't ever managed to get too engaged. But, I do participate from time to time (@carla_filmigeek) - and of course I follow @AzmiShabana and @Javedakhtarjadu. It's fun to see what they have to say, and to test my Urdu on the shayari (Javed sahib's, Kaifi sahib's, and others) that they occasionally offer.

Today on Twitter, Shabanaji complains of "food coma," an affliction with which I am all too familiar, and a phrase for describing it that I often use myself. It's fun to see her using the expression as well. I'll continue to pass along her thoughts and Javed sahib's here when they tickle my fancy.

Update to movie review links

Since I neglected this site for so long, the link list "Filmi Geek Reviews Shabana" over at the right side of the page had fallen somewhat out of date. I've updated it now with a few of my reviews of Shabana Azmi's movies. None of these reviews can really be described as "recent" but at least the list now includes all the reviews!

Here are quick links to the additions: