Shabana Azmi is all set to deliver a speech at the House of Lords next week. In what is her second visit to the British Parliament, Azmi will talk about how genders, communities, cultures and nations can be equal and yet separate. However, the actress admitted that she was also nervous at the prospect of speaking before such an audience.
Shabana revealed to Mumbai Mirror that the topic she will be addressing will be touching upon how democracy ought to go hand-in-hand with dissension and plurality.
“You may disagree with another person’s opinion and are free to debate it hotly, but with words, not violence. Identity and integration are crucial in the wake of Brexit, Donald Trump’s win in the US and in Narendra Modi’s government. There is an attempt to make a binary out of what constitutes national and anti-national. In George Bush’s words, ‘Either you are with us or you are against us.’ I’m a proud Indian but that doesn’t mean I’ll say everything is hunky dory. For me, its ‘separate’ but ‘equal’ because identity is not a melting pot in which individual identities can be submerged. It’s like a colourful mosaic in which each piece retains its individuality while contributing to a larger whole,” she said.
Azmi’s first visit to the British Parliament was to receive the Gandhi International Peace Prize
“I got my Gandhi International Peace Prize at the House Of Lords and I was honoured to receive the prize from one of my favourite actresses Vanessa Redgrave, who has constantly addressed social and cultural issues and gender empowerment issues that concern me,” said the actress on her previous experience at the House of Lords.
Incidentally, Shabana is no stranger to giving speeches, considering her last speech was at the 2017 Mijwan-Summer Fashion Show two days ago. Speaking about the foundation her father, lyricist and poet Kaifi Azmi started for young women at Mijwan, UP, Shabana shed light on the several obstacles women face in a deeply patriarchal society. The fashion show had actors Anushka Sharma and Shahrukh Khan walk the ramp for designer Manish Malhotra, wearing clothes that were sourced from the Mijwan village.
Thus far, Shabana who was last seen in last year’s hit film Neerja, will sing a song in Nandita Das’ Saadat Hasan Manto biopic. She is also acting in the movie, playing actress Nargis’s mother, filmmaker-actress-composer-singer Jaddanbai.