|Satyajit Ray, the noted film maker, says in his book, “Our Films Their Films”, “Shabana Azmi in her very first film, ‘ANKUR’ , firmly establishes herself as the finest dramatic actress of the country.”
AWARDS WON AS ACTRESS (National)
- National Award Best Actress GODMOTHER 1999
- National Award Best Actress PAAR 1985
- National Award Best Actress KHANDAR 1984
- National Award Best Actress ARTH 1983
- National Award Best Actress ANKUR 1974
She is the only actress in the country to have won 3 of these 5 awards in a row.
She has also won every single award for acting in the country, in many instances, more than thrice.
- Filmfare Award Best Actress SWAMI 1979 (1)
- Filmfare Award Best Actress BHAVNA 1989 (3)
- Filmfare Award Best Actress ARTH 1983 (2)
- Filmfare Lifetime Achievement 2006
AWARDS WON AS ACTRESS (International)
- Toronto Reel World International Film Festival Award for Excellence MORNING RAGA 2005
- International Indian Film Academy - Life Time Achievement 2005
- Chicago International Film Festival Best Actress FIRE 1996
- Los Angeles Outfest Best Actress FIRE 1996
- Taormina – Arte Italy Best Actress PATANG 1994
- North Korea International Film Festival Best Actress LIBAAS 1993
Apart from being a highly respected actress, Shabana Azmi is also a committed social activist. As chairperson of NIVARA HAKK, she undertook a 5 day hunger strike in May 1986 for slum dwellers in Bombay and was successful in obtaining land for displaced slum dwellers. On 1st May 2007, Niwara Hakk handed over 4184 tenements free of cost to slum dwellers evicted from the Borivli National Park. By December 2007, 12000 tenements will be handed over. This makes it the largest single rehabilitation project in all of Asia.
- Doctorate from Leeds Metropolitan University 2007 - For her unstinted support to social issues concerning underprivileged and marginalized sections of the Indian society.
- Gandhi International Peace Prize 2006 by Gandhi Foundation London - Shabana Azmi is the first Indian to receive the prestigious International Gandhi Peace prize at the House of Commons in London.
- Basavashree Award 2006 – by Shri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the present pontiff of Murughamath of Chitradurga, Karnataka. The award is to honour the work of academicians and scholars who are engaged selfless service to humanity to create an egalitarian society. Some of the previous recipients were Anna Azare, Medha Patkar, Dalai Lama, Dr. Vandana Shiva.
- Crystal Award by World Economic Forum – Davos 2006 for achieving outstanding excellence in the field of culture and having used art to reach out to other cultures.
- One of 16 women to whom tributes were paid by President Mitterand of France on the bicentenary celebrations of International Human Rights in July ’89. Others included were Mother Theresa and Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu.
- Martin Luther King, Parks and Chavez Award by Michigan State University 2002.
- Chosen by Time magazine as 1 of 25 Asian heroes and the only woman amongst 4 Indians who has made a difference.
- Only Asian actor to have a retrospective of her films at the New York Film Festival 2002
- Retrospective of her films at American Film Institute, Smithsonian Institution Washington, George Pompidou Centre Paris, Pacific Cinematheque etc.
- Chairperson of the International Jury at Montreal, Cairo and Cinefan Film Festivals.
- Padma Shri 1988.
- Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in Secularism.
- Nominated to Rajya Sabha by President of India 1997 – 2003
- United Nations Goodwill Ambassador on Population and Development UNFPA
- Former Chairperson of Children’s Film Society of India.
Alongwith Swami Agnivesh and Asghar Ali Engineer, she undertook a 4-day march for communal harmony from DELHI to MEERUT in April, 1989. She has also participated in several street plays and demonstrations against the rising wave of communalism. In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid Demolition, she along with activists of NIVARA HAKK, helped to diffuse tension in several slums. To their credit, NIVARA HAKK did not have a single incident of violence whilst the city was ablaze
She has fought relentlessly against religious fundamentalism of all hues and is highly respected as a moderate, liberal Muslim voice.
She is also visiting Professor at Ann Arbour Michigan. She has addressed several universities such as Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley, MIT Boston, University of Chicago, University of London etc.on the need to relate communal harmony to issues of social justice.
Having worked in 140 films as well as in theatre, Shabana Azmi believes art should be used as an instrument for social change. She has been involved in the rights of women, development, reproductive health, housing for the economically weaker sections, public health and HIV AIDS.
She is married to Javed Akhtar, urdu poet, film lyricist and the finest script writer in Hindi cinema.
- Emma in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal for Singapore Repertory Theatre – 2005
- Lead in Tanika Gupta’s The Waiting Room for The National Theatre London – 2002
- Nora in Ibsen’s The Dolls House for Singapore Repertory Theatre – 1997
- Grusha in Urdu adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle for IPTA – 1980
- Amrita in Urdu adaptation of A.R.Gurney’s Love Letters – 1992 - 2006