Shabana Azmi: Actors are neurotic, says Shabana Azmi; focus has shifted to PR machinery than acting, believes Saiyami Kher

Saiyami Kher, granddaughter of acclaimed Hindi and Marathi film actress Usha Kiran, addresses Shabana Azmi as maushi (aunt in Marathi) as they are family, but listen to their banter and you’ll know they are more like friends. There’s a bit of an age reversal here in terms of demeanour. Saiyami is an old soul, while Shabana has the spirit of a youngster. Those trying to figure out the Saiyami-Shabana connect, here’s a little trivia. Saiyami’s aatya (father’s sister) Tanvi Azmi is married to Shabana’s brother Baba Azmi. The aunt-niece pair who shared screen space for the first time in R Balki’s ‘Ghoomer‘ recently, took a trip down memory lane through this exclusive interaction with us. The two exchanged thoughts on a variety of subjects like…

Saiyami Kher and Shabana Azmi

Saiyami Kher and Shabana Azmi in Ghoomer

Family ties and talent
Shabana: Saiyami took a few acting lessons from my mother, (the late Shaukat Kaifi, acclaimed theatre and film actress). My mother was someone who never minced her words. She said, ‘Yeh ladki ki andar se machine chalti hai’, which was a way of saying that Saiyami connects emotionally. She isn’t superficial. When my mother said that about her, I took it seriously because she wasn’t the one to say these things easily.
Saiyami: Daadi ma (Shaukat Kaifi) was kind enough to help me out with my Hindi improvement and acting. I was very fond of her, and she loved me, too. She was an extremely strict teacher. When Shabana maushi and I shot together, she reminded me so much of her mother that I accidentally called her daadi ma several times. I remember Shabana maushi telling me to work on my voice. “Don’t speak so nasal,” she would say.

Shabana Azmi and Saiyami Kher

Shabana Azmi and Saiyami Kher in Ghoomer

Social media and making of a star
Shabana: I am not the kind of person who likes indulging in nostalgia and say, “Humare zamane mein yeh tha, woh tha.” How many followers you have on social media is now a reason for casting an upcoming actor. Earlier, you had to carry a portfolio, then reels of your work and now it’s about isko cast karte hai, iskay itnay followers hai. You get endorsements based on it, so for the younger generation it is important. For the senior generation, it’s a question of choice — whether we want to be out there or not. Zeenat Aman and Saira Banu are on Instagram now. Zeenat has made such a dignified entry on the platform. People are not going to cast us because we have a certain number of followers but because of our body of work.
Saiyami: I am from this generation, but I feel like I am 85. Given a choice, I would rather spend an evening with Gulzar sahab or Javed (Akhtar) uncle than go out and party with 25 or 30-year-olds. We will have more things to talk about. I have never been a fan of social media. I feel the focus has shifted to PR machinery and the Instagram algorithm today, as opposed to what you are supposed to do on camera, which is act. I hope we can revert to how the older generation functioned; the work was purer. But we can’t keep living in nostalgia. We must live in the present and strike a better balance between virtual and real.

Saiyami Kher

Saiyami Kher

Overcoming career battles
Shabana: Saiyami is a very passionate and committed person. There was a time when she went through a dark phase, and yet, kept going. She didn’t give up because she had faith in her abilities. She never let down the parts she played, but she needed something where her work would be recognised. I feel Ghoomer (the film directed by R Balki in which Shabana and Saiyami shared screen space) has done that for her. It was physically and mentally gruelling for her.
Saiyami: I was not getting work after my debut film (Mirzya, 2016). A wise man’s writing kept me going and his name is Javed Akhtar. I remember he wrote, “Zindagi mein kyu dare kya hoga? Kuch na hua toh tajurba hoga.” That line is etched on my mind.

Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi

Actors are neurotic: Shabana
Shabana says, “Acting is an interesting profession. You can come to a set feeling low after having had a nasty argument at home or show up elated if the day has been good. You can be expected to do a happy scene when you are feeling sad or vice versa. You must keep your personal feelings away and do what a scene requires of you. Which is why I say actors are neurotic. A civilised society says that you have to keep your emotions under control. Acting demands the opposite. You have to constantly keep yourself in a state of emotional preparedness.”

Source link

Leave a Comment