She is the only Asian actor ever to be honoured with a retrospective
of her films at Lincoln Centre at the 40th New York Film Festival.
She has been Chairperson of the Jury at the Montreal and Cairo
International Film Festivals.
Shabana Azmi has won International acclaim in JOHN Schlesinger's
MADAME SOUSATZKA co-starring SHIRLEY
MC'LAINE, NICHOLAS KLOTZ'S `THE BENGALI NIGHT,co-starring JOHN
HURT and HUGH GRANT and ROLAND JOFFE'S CITY OF JOY, CO-STARRING
PATRICK SWAYZE. Other films include Channel 4's "IMMACULATE
CONCEPTION", opposite James Wilby "THE
SON OF PINK PANTHER" by Blake Edward and Ismail Merchants's
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".
Apart from being a highly respected actress, Shabana Azmi is
also a committed social activist. Inspired by the fiery zeal of
her father, who has worked extensively with construction labours,
she undertook a 5-day hunger strike for the slum dwellers in Bombay.
As Chairperson of the NIVARA HAKK SURAKSHA
SAMITI, she demanded & managed to get alternative
land for the disputed slum dwellers of Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, NIVARA
HAKK opposes demolitions, arguing that demolitions
only create worse slums out of already existing slums and that
upgradation is the better alternative.
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
She has addressed several universities in U.S.A. - such as Columbia,
Berkeley, UC Irvine, MIT Boston, Wellesley Boston, Ann Arbour,
Brynmore, University of Chicago, University of London, on the
need to relate communal harmony to issues of social justice.
She has won the RAJIV GANDHI AWARD for 'Excellence
in Secularism' in August 1994.
She has won the YASH BHARTIYA award from the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
for highlighting women's issues both in her work as an actress
With the extensive tour of her play
"TUMHARI AMRITA", she has raised funds for
displaced Kashmiri migrants
and for the victims of the Latur Earthquake.
She is on the Advisory Council of the ENDOWMENT
CAMPAIGN FOR CHAIR IN INDIAN STUDIES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.
She was awarded PADMA SHRI
in 1988 by the Government of India, given to eminent citizens
for excellence in their field and distinguished contribution to
She has been nominated to the RAJYA
SABHA (UPPER HOUSE) as a MEMBER
OF PARLIAMENT by the President of India.
She was one of sixteen women to whom tributes were paid in July
'89 by President MITTERAND of France
on the bicentenary celebrations of International Human Rights.
Others included were MOTHER THERESA,
RIGOBERTA MENCHU etc.
In November, '93 she was invited to Cape Town to present The
News Maker of the Year Award to President
She has been appointed the United Nations
Goodwill Ambassador on Population And Development.
She is Visiting Professor at Michigan State University and recipient
of Martin Luther King, Parks and Chavez Award.
She has been awarded D.Litt. by the Rabindra Bharati University
Has just been chosen by TIME Magazine as 1 of 25 Asian heroes
and the only woman amongst 4 Indians who has made a difference.
Shabana Azmi is married to Javed Akhtar,
Urdu Poet and the finest Script Writer in Hindi Cinema.