Mumbai: Actress and social activist Shabana Azmi, who turned 64 Thursday, would co-incidentally spend the day rehearsing for her play 'Happy Birthday Sunita'. She adds that age is no bar for her as she has embraced life at all stages and advises everyone to do the same. Excerpts:
Q. You have turned 64! What plans this year?
A. My play 'Happy Birthday Sunita' opens in London on Sep 19. On my birthday I will be in technical rehearsal till 10 PM! Javed has come to be with me and I'm thrilled. No other plans needed!
Q: Do you enjoy the cake cutting and the gifts?
A: The cake cutting is a practice I do not like. When did it start in India and why, I do not know. In school, we were only allowed to give two sweets each to the entire class. It was a great leveller because it prevented the richer girls from being lavish and shows the not-so-rich ones in poor light! I'm not a great stickler for giving or receiving presents on birthdays, anniversaries, etc. as a 'must do'. I prefer giving a gift without occasion if I feel it's something a friend will like.
Q: But surely you like something?
A: I must confess that flowers are my weakness and I love receiving them, especially Indian fragrant flowers - Mogra, Rajnigandha, Sontakka etc.
Q: Which is the most memorable birthday you ever had?
A: My 50th birthday. All my friends came from various corners and Abba (father poet Kaifi Azmi) sat quietly through the noisy celebrations in a sherwani and 'topi' looking like the birthday person himself!! Javed was wonderful too, but it's too personal to share the details.
Q: 64... is it just a number or does it really mean a coming of age?
A: I'm at peace with my age. I've embraced life at all stages. I remember people were horrified when I celebrated my 50th! 'Don't announce your age', I was advised! How stupid is that.
Biography of Shabana Azmi
Q: As an Indian actress, do you feel restricted by your age?
A: This is the best time to be an actor. There are many parts available for all age groups. It's no longer the stereotypical mother in a white sari and terrible wig sacrificing all for her family!
Q: Any unfulfilled dreams?
A: I would have loved to play the piano! Alas! It's too late now.
Q: If you had to change one thing in your life, what would that be?
A: It's too personal to answer.
Q: Generations of actors consider you a role model. What advice do you have for them?
A: Never become complacent, work hard. Embrace life!