Shabana Azmi has acted in more than 140 films, is a luminary of Indian Parallel (or arthouse) Cinema, and is renowned for the sensitivity of her portrayals in films such as Deepa Mehta’s Fire (1996), Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom (Innocent; 1993) and Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players (1977). For her role in Fire, Ms Azmi won the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress at the 32nd Chicago Film Festival. She has won five Indian National Awards as Best Actress and numerous other Indian fi lm awards, including the International Indian Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. She is the only Asian actor to have had a retrospective of her films at the New York Film Festival (2002).
Ms Azmi is a noted activist who has been involved in the rights of women, development, reproductive health, and housing for the economically weaker sections, public health and HIV AIDS. In 1992 she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund and, in 2006, she was awarded the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award for her work with the slum dwellers of Mumbai.
She is a member of the National Integration Council, headed by the Prime Minister of India, a member of the National AIDS Commission (of India) and was nominated in 1997 as a member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament.
Ms Azmi has fought relentlessly against religious fundamentalism of all hues and is highly respected as a moderate, liberal Muslim voice. She is a visiting Professor at Ann Arbour Michigan and, among many tributes, was acknowledged by President Mitterand of France, along with 15 others including Mother Theresa and Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu on the bicentenary celebrations of International Human Rights in Paris.
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