Shabana Azmi turns 70 today, and the beautiful septuagenarian looks just as radiant and full of life as when she first made her debut in the glamour industry in 1974. And although we have been awe-inspired by the stunning leading lady, social activist and nominated member of Rajya Sabha, there are still many things that are unknown about her. Here’s looking at some unknown facts and rare photos of the actor on her seventieth birthday.
Shabana was born on September 18, 1950 to Urdu Poet and scholar Kaifi Azmi and stage actress Shaukat Azmi in Hyderabad, now Telangana. After making her mark as a debutante, Shabana soon established herself as the leading lady of parallel cinema in India, a previously unexplored territory. After almost 46 years and countless contributions to Bollywood, Shabana Azmi is the paragon of grace, fashion and poise in the film, television and theatre world of India.
Often known as the ‘original diva’ of the film industry, Shabana has inspired countless generations of fashion and has even contributed to social activism, going on to become a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund. She is also the president of the Mijwan Welfare Organization, which was founded by her father in 1993. Shabana hosts the annual Mijwan fashion show that sees works of renowned designers like Manish Malhotra being strutted down the ramp on A-list Bollywood stars including Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, among others.
Azmi was named at the age of eleven by Ali Sardar Jafri. Her parents used to call her Munni.
Shabana comes from quite a filmy family, with her brother being a cinematographer, her sister in law an actor, and Bollywood’s stereotype-smashing queen, Tabu, who happens to be her niece.
Over the course of her career in Bollywood, Shabana has performed in over one hundred Hindi films, in mainstream and Parallel Cinema. Many of her films have received international attention including at the Norwegian Film Institute, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Film Institute.
Several of the foreign films that she has appeared in have won international acclaim, including John Schlesinger’s Madame Sousatzka, Nicholas Klotz’s Bengali Night, Roland Joffe’s City of Joy, Channel 4’s Immaculate Conception, Blake Edwards’ Son of the Pink Panther, and Ismail Merchant’s In Custody.
She has a record of five National film awards for Best Actress, and five Filmfare awards in her repertoire, not to mention several international honours as well. Shabana has also been awarded the Padma Shri in 1988 and the Padma Bhushan in 2012 by the Government of India.
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