October 5, 2021 6:38:45 pm
Actors Waheeda Rehman and Shabana Azmi opened up about their personal and professional lives in a recent conversation with Twinkle Khanna. Twinkle and Shabana discussed the latter’s first international project with Shirley MacLaine, ‘Madame Sousatzka’ in 1988, directed by John Schlesinger, and how Shabana is the torchbearer of inclusive cinema, representing India.
Sharing about how the West started thinking about inclusiveness in films, Shabana told Twinkle, “I was certainly the only Indian and it was a very strange feeling because I think in English, and English comes to me very naturally. But when I was there on the set, and I was hearing all these people speaking in English, my English sounded so quaint and so convent-like. But, what was very nice is that I fell in love with John Schlesinger and he fell in love with me. In fact, the first few days I even stayed in his house. And, when I asked John, I said in the original book, by Bernice Rubens, she is a Jewish mother. So, I said, ‘why did you make her an Indian mother?’ And he said that Indians are so much a part of the British fabric that they need to be visible. And it helped that Ruth Jhabvala wrote the screenplay.”
“Asian actors have been talking about colour-blind casting since forever, why should all the good roles go to Caucasian actors? Now, very slowly, they have understood that multiculturalism is really important, and that we need to be inclusive. They’ve also understood the fan following Indian cinema has, and they’ve realised that they’ll get this audience too.”
Twinkle also spoke to Waheeda Rehman as part of her interview. The veteran actor shared how she initially wanted to be a doctor. She said, “Yes, I wanted to be a doctor. In those days, especially in Muslim families, the only respectable profession was doing medicine. So, I was like let’s do medicine only. Even today I love reading medical journals and about different treatments.”
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About switching to acting, she said, “My mother told me that I used to make faces. I was very expressive and made funny faces. I would stand in front of the mirror and make faces. So my father told my mother to check whether I was going mad (laughs). One day, my father asked me why I was doing this, so I told him that I want to make people laugh and I want to make people cry. That time, even I didn’t know that I wanted to act. Everything in my life, my career, my marriage, all of it happened, I didn’t plan or go after it.” The interviews were shared on Tweak India YouTube channel.
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