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Photo of Shabana Azmi
Photo of Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi

“I find it very frightening to be called an icon. To be institutionalized.”

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    ANKUR

    Shyam Benegal India, 1974

    Set amidst a complex mesh of feudal power structures and gender oppression, Shyam Benegal’s directorial debut Ankur is a powerful film about the caste system and agency of women. This film also marks the debut of the powerhouse actress of Indian parallel cinema, Shabana Azmi.

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    THE CHESS PLAYERS

    Satyajit Ray India, 1977

    Made during an era of press censorship in India, The Chess Players is a self-described “contemplative though unsparing” drama that examined the country’s future through its past. An exquisite satire from one of world cinema’s most beloved masters: Satyajit Ray.

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    MANDI

    Shyam Benegal India, 1983

    Based on Urdu short story Anandi by Ghulam Abbas, Mandi is a sharp satire on the hypocrisy of society. Questioning the self-appointed guardians of morality and culture, director Shyam Benegal explores the world of sex workers a gaze full of empathy, kindness, and respect.

    NISHANT

    Shyam Benegal India, 1975

    Based on a play by the noted playwright Vijay Tendulkar, Nishant is a compelling comment on tyrannical social hierarchies which unapologetically enable the oppressor. This visceral Shyam Benegal film is a haunting recreation of rural India’s feudal way of life.

    SPARSH

    Sai Paranjpye India, 1980

    A tender tale of love, Sai Paranjpye’s Sparsh is a nuanced window into the complex psychology of physical disability that often comes in the way of emotional connections. The raw simplicity of the actors Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi makes the film linger in one’s mind long after it’s over.

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