Shabana Azmi is one of India’s most iconic and beloved actors, ruling the screens (and the stage) for more than four decades. She is also a fierce advocate for the rights of women, minorities, and of India’s secular values. Described as the ‘Indian Meryl Streep’, Ms. Azmi has starred in a range of films from art house to Bollywood to international productions such as Canadian director Deepa Mehta’s ‘Fire’.
A five-time winner of the National Award for Best Actress, Azmi’s incredible body of social justice work includes her appointment as the UN’s Goodwill Ambassador on Population and Development and membership in the National AIDS Commission of India. This commitment to social justice and activism resulted in Azmi receiving the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award for her poverty and human rights work, the International Human Rights Award (France), and the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum alongside Muhammad Ali, Michael Douglas and Gilberto Gil. In 2013, she received an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University.
For ISF’s 10th anniversary, she reads from her father Kaifi Azmi’s body of work. Kaifi Azmi was a renowned poet who was an important figure in the progressive writers’ movement in India. He sought to inspire social change through his passionate Urdu verse. He was also a noted lyricist for some of Bollywood’s best-known films.