Long before the advent of social media and the outpour of respect for Indian actresses breaking into Los Angeles, Shabana Azmi had wooed the West with her enchanting talent. She takes pride in her astute judgment of knowing the worth of a script. Her perspective and insight into contemporary cinema makes her an icon for the industry. And when she’s not busy with the camera, she’s out sharing figments of Indian culture, theatre and other arts with the world.
Today she’s content with the accolades she gets in movies like Neerja. She’s excited about the brave new breed of filmmakers cropping up with fabulous stories.
“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.”
Further when asked if contemporary films more about the look and the costumes rather than the narrative, she said ; No, films today are at a very interesting place because it’s the first time in mainstream cinema that we are seeing a synthesis with the middle of the road cinema, the Sai Paranjpye and Basu Chatterjee type of cinema. For example, films like Bareilly Ki Barfi or Dum Laga Ke Haisha are now being pushed into mainstream cinema and are finding viewership, which is absolutely lovely.
On the other hand, there is that very glossy film which is now not seeing as much success as you would have expected. The belief that having one big star is enough no longer holds true. Today in fact, more than ever, everybody has realized that content is king. No star can guarantee box office success in the absence of a good script.