Indian actress Shabana Azmi described herself as an ‘optimist’ who has immense faith in India’s pluralism, despite her country’s dominant slant towards the right on the political front.
“All over the world there seems to be a shift towards the right. It’s not particular to India. Look at France or to the US, it’s a cycle that happens. After every 33 years, people move towards right or left. I am an optimist and I believe that India cannot be but a pluralistic country,” said Azmi in an interview with Gulf News in Dubai.
The Indian National-winning actress is in the UAE along with actress and sister-in-law Tanvi Azmi and actor Kanwaljit Singh for Mehfil-e-Urdu, an event dedicated to her celebrated father and poet Kaifi Azmi’s birth centenary, at the Sheikh Rashid Auditorium on August 29.
India is a country that lives in several centuries with multiple cultures, languages and religions. The very existence of India can be common, but not uniform.
“India is a country that lives in several centuries with multiple cultures, languages and religions, The very existence of India can be common, but not uniform,” said Azmi,
Asked if artists tend to live in fear in such a political climate keeping in mind the latest developments in Kashmir, Azmi was quick to respond.
“No, I don’t live in fear ... Kashmir is a complicated issue. Let’s just talk about what we are here for.”
While she refused to be drawn into any political debate, Azmi was happy to speak about her legendary father and how he shaped her existence.
“My father was a rare poet who practised what he wrote. When he talked about gender justice, he didn’t talk about it in his poetry alone. During the last years of his life, he stayed in the village of his birth, Mijwan, and set up the Mijwan Welfare Society. He believed that if India has to make real progress, she has to look towards her villages. He concentrated on the girl child and set up schools for their education,” said Azmi.
She grew up in a communist commune until the age of 19 and her ideas of pluralism and secularism were entrenched in her system during those impressionable years.
“Gender justice and social justice was a given. India’s pluralism was embraced. We grew up valuing all that. I was 19 when I realised that the gender equality is an exception rather than the rule. That is how I grew up. My parents encouraged us to speak our minds, to be respectful and speak about issues where we feel strongly about,” said Azmi.
Read her full interview in Gulf News tabloid! soon.