Arts have the opportunity to create a climate of sensitivity: Shabana Azmi – art and culture


Veteran actor Shabana Azmi says she is an optimist by nature and believes art can nurture a “climate of sensitivity” which in turn can spur societal change.

Because of this, the actor said, she made up our minds to star in “Kaali Khuhi” (Black Mannered), a horror thriller directed by Terrie Samundra which explores the enduring affect of female foeticide, a malpractice still prevalent in India. Azmi, known for her powerhouse performances in films like “Ankur”, “Mandi”, “Khandhar”, “Fire”, “Godmother”, exploring the genre for the second one time after Vishal Bhardwaj’s 2002 horror comedy “Makdee”.

Set in a Punjab village, the Netflix Original movie traces the journey of a girl named Shivangi (Riva Arora), who is put to the final test when she witnesses her entire circle of relatives fall deeper into the secrets of the black polite.

Azmi, 70, said it is “outrageous” that female foeticide continues to exist in the 21st century India when addressing this will have to be step one towards women empowerment.

“Female foeticide and infanticide exist all around – not in the back or beyond only but in our metropolitan cities too. And yet we aren’t as focused on it as we will have to be. The correct to be born is taken absent from a girl just because she is a girl.

“That must be the place to begin of any work that you do approximately a girl who doesn’t actually have a correct to be born. How merciless, unjust and unacceptable that is? We are a patriarchal society. We entitle the boy from birth just for being male and the girl is made to go through numerous discrimination,” Azmi, also an activist, told PTI in an interview over Zoom.

The National Award winner said she made up our minds to board the project as first-time feature movie director Samundra had her heart in the correct place. Los Angeles-based Samundra, who has written and directed short films and documentaries including “Kunjo” and “Ice Cream Wallah”, has told the story in a cinematically “compelling” manner, the actor said.

“Terrie could have reasonably easily made it into a documentary that would have its own reach. But the truth that she does it through this thriller is what makes it more accessible to audiences. My parents all the time told me that art will have to be used as an instrument to societal change.

“It’s not that i am saying it has a direct reaction. You don’t watch the movie ‘Gandhi’ and the next day to come start behaving like Gandhi. But all arts have the opportunity to create a climate of sensitivity in which it is conceivable for change to arise,” Azmi said.

The actor, who plays Satya Maasi, a mysterious woman haunted by her past in the movie, emphasised that “Kaali Khuhi” is “not a propaganda” project.

“By the end of the movie, you’re feeling this can’t be allowed to happen. That could be a powerful reaction that you’ll be able to get from a movie. Terrie has made the movie taking cinema into consideration. It doesn’t grow to be a propaganda movie.”

The topic of women empowerment has grow to be far more important than a mere trending word on social media, Azmi said, adding that treating men and women equally is the only logical way ahead for the world.

“I’m an optimist and when I see darkness all around me instead of getting totally overwhelmed by it, I tell myself that daybreak is just approximately to come. I react to things with optimism and hope because I see that things are cyclical.

“I feel in present-day society, empowerment of women isn’t merely a buzzword, it has come to because from all points of view it only makes sense. From economic, social, to materialistic point of view, it makes sense that men and women are treated as equal. We are only saying give them equal possibility.”

The actor also cautioned that the problem lies in deifying women as “mother goddess” as it allows the society to disclaim them equal possibility conveniently.

“We call her ‘mother goddess’. But I don’t wish to be treated as a goddess, I wish to be treated as equal. This can be a convenient way off. It’s a must to face the truth that today society cannot find the money for to do anything aside from treat these genders as equal because that’s where the entire sense lies,” she added.

Also starring Leela Samson, Sanjeeda Shaikh, and Satyadeep Mishra, “Kaali Khuhi” is produced by Anku Pande and Ramon Chibb.

The movie is set to premiere on the streaming platform on October 30.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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