The famous and versatile film actress, Shabana Azmi, is one of the icons of Indian Cinema. She was born on September 18th 1950 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Her mother, Shaukat was a well-known theatre actress, and her father late Kaifi Azmi, a well known Urdu poet and lyricist.
After completed her degree in Psychology at St.Xavier's College, Mumbai, she took a Diploma in Acting at the Film and Television Institute in Pune, India in 1972.
She made her film debut as Lakshmi in Shyam Benegals 'Ankur'(1974), for which she received the National Award as Best Actress. Azmi then went on to star in the films of all of India's most prominent art directors like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal and Gautam Ghose. She dominated the art/parallel film scene in the 70's and 80's. At the same time, she appeared in commercial Hindi cinema and gave hits like 'Amar Akbar Anthony', 'Fakira' and in- between films such as the more recent Mrityudand(1997), Godmother(1999) etc.
She was one of the few actress in India, who could alternate with Indian Art films, as well as the commercial cinema with her natural and intensive acting. A perfectionist, she would go to great lengths to bring alive her characters on screen, even putting on weight if the character needed it. She reflects every inflection in moods and feelings with her intense portrayal. She has proved her mettle and won rave reviews in theatre also with her performance in 'Tumhari Amrita' which ran to packed audience for five long years.
She was acknowledged for her powerful performances with many awards. She is the winner of five National Awards for Best Actress for the films Ankur (1974), as the betrayed wife in Arth (1983-also received Filmfare award), as the tragic protagonist in Khandhar (1984), as a slum dweller in Paar (1985), and Godmother (1999) and also won international awards for best actress at the Taormina Arte Festival in Italy for Gautam Ghose's 'Patang' (1994), Silver Hugo Award at the 32nd Chicago Film Festival and the Los Angeles Out fest for a controversial role as Radha in Deepa Mehta's 'Fire' (1996). International Award for Best Actress for Gulzar's 'Libaas' in North Korea in 1993.
Shabana Azmi is also a committed social and political activist. She has undertaken campaigns and made public statements over issues close to her heart, particularly social justice such as the rights of women, plight of slum dwellers etc. She is a leading advocate of AIDS awareness in India. She has also addressed students and faculty of several universities in India and abroad, including MIT, Boston, University of Chicago and University of London. For her sincerity and commitment in social activism, Shabana Azmi won the Rajiv Gandhi Award, Yash Bhartiya award from the government of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India and the Padma Shri in 1988 from the Government of India. Shabana was a former member of the Rajya Sabha.
Shabana Azmi, married to poetith utmost sincerity. Her niece Tabbu is also an actress in Indian Cinema.
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