“I like having family and friends around me. Our house is always overflowing with guests. But I decided to go with the flow and not fret about when the lockdown will end,” says Shabana Azmi who has been under lockdown ten days before it was announced as she returned from Budapest on March 15 after shooting for her international project.
The actor has kept her spirits buoyant by engaging in various creative pursuits, “I surrendered myself and started enjoying the time I am getting to be with Javed (Akthar, her husband). We spend a great amount of time together but also wander off into our own spaces so we are not breathing down each others neck constantly. I have been reading, writing, listening to music, giving talks and even participating in webinars,” she says.
In an effort to join forces, the actor along with her husband has been doing her bit to help the needy, “We have been doing a lot of relief work through the NGO that was started by my father Kaifi Azmi. We have distributed food grains , health kits and masks to more than 22000 people in different villages in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. We have also setup Rozgar dhaba , an information hub for the returning migrants on government schemes, job opportunities, making ration and aadahar cards. Apart from that Javed and I are providing cooked meals to the homeless,” she shares.
Azmi has also joined the international stars in celebrated Italian author Erri de Luca’s new project, The Decameron 2020, in which a select group of authors from different nations have been invited to pen 1,000-word long stories about the worldwide COVID-19 crisis. The actor has recorded venerated Professor Tabish Khair’s story, River Of No Return, “I was moved by the story and it struck a chord. Also the idea of getting writers from across the world to share their creative responses and have actors doing dramatised readings had a novel feel to it. In times of crisis the artist must rise to the challenge and try to make sense from the chaos,” she explains.
Given the lockdown, her footage was shot on an a phone by herself. Talking about the experience she says, “As an actor I have a cushy position because everything gets set up for me. I am only needed to learn my lines , take the light, hit my mark and rev up the emotion. But here it was me who was setting up everything so it was a unique experience. It was a new experience to work with the Tony Award-winning director Michael Myers on a virtual platform without having ever met him. Because of the difference in time I couldn’t get an immediate reaction from him. By the time he could watch the footage, the green chroma background and the lights had already been dismantled. Thankfully he was satisfied with what he got.”