Veteran actor Shabana Azmi, who was in Delhi for the promotions of Neerja along with her onscreen daughter played by Sonam Kapoor, said she believes that Hindi film industry is going through a very happy time right now thanks to good subjects being taken up by directors.
Shabana Azmi, who has been successful in both parallel and mainstream cinema, said the audience has become more open and are ready to try both kinds of cinema.
“I think this is a very happy time for the Hindi film industry, all kinds of films are being made. You have typical masala film which is catering to the lowest common denominator. Then you also have a film like Masaan and then Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. So all kinds of films are being made and embraced. That is when audience gets a choice,” said Shabana Azmi. (Read: Not shown Pakistan in poor light in ‘Neerja’: Shabana Azmi)
Shabana Azmi further said that today’s actors are able to experiment because they are taking up one project at a time unlike actors in her generation.
“I was the first one to decide that I will do both parallel cinema and commercial cinema. I was riding in two boats where you are likely to sink but fortunately this didn’t happen and today I think the most remarkable change has been the actors doing one film at a time is remarkable because during our time, 12 films were being made. What was demanded in Hindi cinema was an alternative reality to films. Earlier, Hindi cinema used to whitewash all the details of characters but parallel cinema did the exact opposite and showed everything that was real. That is disappearing now. Even in a Piku you see Amitabh Bachchan speaking with a Bengali accent earlier you wouldn’t even think of that. Demands that the actor is making of herself, demands of the audiences expectations all that has sharpened because you are doing one movie at a time and so can give it a lot of time and focus,” she added. (Also read: Shabana Azmi watches Neerja with daughter-in-law Adhuna)
Speaking about her film Fire in the context of the current censorship debate, she said: “Censor Board passed the film without any cuts, the film had already run for three weeks in a row then came Shiv Sena and pulled it off the theatre The I& B referred it to the censor board and it passed the film again without a single cut and that too with an Adult certificate. That was an unprecedented step. In that particular case they (censor) showed a lot of maturity. Civil society also said that we are not going to listen to a political party and what they dictate to us.”
Relating it to the intolerance issue, Shaban Azmi said people are not receptive to arguments. “At the moment an atmosphere is being build up where any voice of dissent or anything that can be considered controversial or criticism there is only a suffocating stifling of the place so that you don’t dare to say anything that challenges the status quo.”
Neerja will release this Friday.