Shabana Azmi(68), the veteran actor is a theatre enthusiast, for her cinema is life. From the time she stepped into the world of cinema with Ankur 1974, directed by Shyam Benegal she has been unstoppable, she has been passionate about acting and has devoted her whole life for the same. Theatre is an artform to create awareness and initiate questions, with the same ideology Shabana Azmi strive to be the difference.

Shabana Azmi is here this July 27 & 28in Delhi with Girish Karnad’s play Broken Images produced by Raell Padamsee, making the story come alive in the contemporary times.

The Film and Television Institute of India graduate has acclaimed a place for herself in mainstream movies as well as in the world of theatre. Being 68 does not stop her from being new, she is just as fresh in her artform, she has evolved herself with time as change is what art demands. She is always up with. what keeps her going is her flexibility and curiosity as the society involves. Theatre and cinema are the reflection of our society, she is always intrigued with the new changes in cinema. She has built a bold identity for herself, a public figure who speaks of feminism, communalism, social issues. She is an intellect who speaks her mind out.

Recently she has been trolled on social media for her comment that those who criticize the government are branded “anti-nationals”, which attacked religious fundamentalists in a tweet, to which she wrote, “So much uproar over my one remark? Didn’t realise I was so important in the eyes of the right wing,” she frther added “Muslim fundos (fundamentalists) also passed a fatwa against me for shaving my head for Deepa Mehta’s film ‘Water’, to which Javed Akhtar’s response on the record was shut up. All fundos are mirror images of each other.”

“It is always necessary that we point out our flaws for the betterment of our country. If we do not, how can our conditions improve? But the atmosphere is such that if we criticize the government we are branded as anti-nationals. We should not be afraid, nobody needs their certificate,” Ms Azmi tweeted without naming any political party. She is an uprise of liberal views therefore, she is often slammed by the right-wing parties.

In an interview on being asked what is there to aspire to as she holds five national awards, five Filmfare awards, a Padma Shri, a Padma Bhushan, a Rajya Sabha seat and several Indian and international awards,  she replied, “Plenty. Cinema is changing and I’m very excited. I’m very curious about what’s happening on the web – short films, web series where you don’t have to abide by censorship rules. And because the laws of conventional distribution do not bind, it allows for a lot more experimentation and that excites me.

It fascinates me that the new form of watching movies is on the phone. I went to Azamgarh and discovered that for 10 bucks, you can see 10 movies on your mobile phone. There will soon be a time when you will have sensory experiences whilst watching a film, such as smelling food, or feeling cold, and I definitely want to be a part of that movement, that gigantic change.”

Coming back to her roots, according to Ms. Azmi theatre is a great leveller because it eschews hierarchy. She considers herself as a film actor but in one of her tweets dated December 27, The World Theatre Day she wrote, “I consider myself a film actor but have found working in theatre very rewarding. Playing the lead at National Theatre London for Tanika Gupta’s ‘The Waiting Room’ was so humbling. Walking to work doing my own laundry. Theatre is a great leveller because it eschews hierarchy.” Maybe it is her parents’gift that she has become such public figure, Shabana’s parents are Kaifi Azmi, an Indian poet and Shaukat Azmi, a veteran Indian People’s Theatre Association stage actress. Shabana has performed in theatre shows like ‘Safed Kundali’ and ‘Tumhari Amrita’ along with veteran Farooq Sheikh.