Posted: 12 March 2006 at 10:23am | IP Logged
Kareena is very very special girl: Shabana Azmi
Amidst a tumult of activities Shabana Azmi speaks to Subhash K Jha on her Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award..
Q: You were in your element at the Filmfare awards.
A: Ha! My back had gone for a toss. I've been neglecting it all the time. And I had to do my best acting with my excruciatingly bad back. Before standing on stage I had to take several injections and pain killers. But Rani Mukherjee spoke so warmly about me.
Q: Your bad back didn't show. That's what makes you such a stupendous actor.
A: I need rest. Since November I haven't been in Mumbai at all. I've been working like one lunatic. So I've taken a break now. But now my house is being renovated. I was resting in my mum's house when I got this frantic call about the renovation going all wrong. So I rushed back.
Now here I am with my bad back sitting in the middle of the dust and rubble with one foot here in my house and two suitcases at my mum's place, totally confused and not being of any help to anyone. Javed says I deal with stress by piling on more stress. He thinks I think diversion of stress is stress management.
Q: Don't you think it's premature to give you the lifetime achievement award?
A: Not at all. I've been around for a lifetime . I came in 1974 with Ankur. I think it's wonderful to receive the lifetime achievement award when you're busy. I've never been busier as an actress as I've been in the last three years. When I was in parliament I restricted my work to the time I was on vacation. Now I'm working a lot! And it's wonderful to get it when you're in the thick of it.
Q: You're the most awarded actor of this country. Does the lifetime achievement mean that much?
A: Ummmmm…..I think the lifetime achivement is significant because your work over the years is being appreciated. But in recent times the other special award was the Davos award where I was put on the same level as Pablo Coehlo and Umberto Eco, and I received it along with Michael Douglas. So I guess these two awards thrilled me quite a lot.
Q: Do you see yourself as an achiever?
A: I See myself as an actor who has been lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. Oh I've heard that one before .But it's true! What can I do? I've been singularly luckly. Believe me. What
I've done so far as an actor is like a writer learning the alphabet. Please don't scream at me. But I think I've just achieved the minimum required of an actor. What's thrilling is that the thrill of acting has still not gone.
I feel the same butterfly in the stomach when I've to inhabit another character's life. I see myself peeping through this window and wondering, 'Shall I enter?' Then I see myself half-opening a door and telling myself, 'No not yet.' That process of getting into character hasn't ceased to excite me.
Q: You sound so charged.
A: I think acting by itself is a rewarding profession. It allows you to inhabit other people's lives. Imagine how much it adds to your experiences. When for Ankur the 20-year old Shabana Azmi walked into a village in Andhra Pradesh she had never seen, to play Laxmi, she came back with her character Laxmi's life in addition to her own life.
Then so many years later when Shabana Azmi plays Anu in 15 Park Avenue, she adds all she has learnt over the years to her character. I feel so blessed. Irrespective of what kind of films I do the thrill of acting continues.
Q: You're lucky to get roles that do justice to your talent.
A: But filmmaking is such a collaborative business. A writer writes it and a director develops the vision and takes on a team he wants . Actors get credit above the rest because theirs in the most visible work. In their hearts all actors know that others are covering up their weakness and highlighting their strengths.
Imagine if I give my best shot and the cameraman lights it up badly or the editor cuts it out! Mar gayee main ! Whereas in theatre an actor is on his own, no matter how much she's propped by the director and others. No one can save you when you're on stage. In that sense theatre is much more an actor's medium.
If you've good actors as co-stars fifty percent of your work is done. Because you're looking into the eyes of someone who's telling you the truth. I'm constantly grateful for the hundreds of people on the set who help me to do my best work possible.
Q: So when are you directing a film?
A: It's so easy being an actor. Why should I put my head on the chopper? Mahesh Bhatt had once told me, direction is about having a dream and then watching it crumble. Why should I watch my dream crumble? Arrey main kyon maroon ? But seriously, I once in while flirt with the idea of direction.
I've to find a story I want to direct. And I don't want the burden of …(in a mock-baritone)…this must be a socially responsible film. That burden I can't bear. If I direct it would be a human story that touches me . I'm nervous of forcing myself into making a socially relevant film.
Q: Will you cast yourself?
A: Impossible! Koi sawaal hi nahin hai. If I direct I wouldn't cast myself.
Q: Whom would you cast?
A: Someone like Kareena Kapoor. She's a very very special girl. In J.P. Dutta's LOC I fell in love with one shot of hers. She stunned me.
Q: This was the first years in years when Javed Akhtar wasn't nominated for best lyricist.
A: Yes .. Javed was supposed to give away another award. He insisted on giving Gulzar Saab the award. And Gulzar Saab threw such a line at Javed. 'I'm glad you're not in the nominations list.' Only a writer can think of such a clever line so quickly.