Shabana Azmi reflects upon her journey as she turns 60 on September 18

Deepali Dhingra (BOMBAY TIMES; September 14, 2010)

If you’d thought Shabana Azmi would slow down once she reaches the official retirement age, think again. The lady is here, there, everywhere! BT managed to pin her down at her Juhu residence where she opened up about the ups and downs of life…

At 60, how do you look back on your life?
• There have been ups and downs, but I do not regret anything because in order to become more than the sum total of your past, you need to also embrace the bad along with the good and take it chin up. I think I have grown everytime I have stumbled and succeeded. So I really embrace the 60 years I’ve spent with deep satisfaction.

Is life going to change or slow down now?
• Looking at how my life has been and how it’s going to be in the next couple of months, I don’t see anything changing. It’s just as frenzied and crazy and hectic as ever! My fingers are always in every single pie. I’ve just finished some shows of my play Broken Images. I’m going to open a new play called Seven. It’s like a documentary play as there are narratives by real life women whose lives are being collated together into a play. Then immediately after that, there’s Kaifi Aur Main for the Delhi government as a run up to the Commonwealth Games, followed by a month-long tour of Broken Images. In fact, I’ve had to let a very important international film go as my dates are clashing, but a commitment is a commitment. After that, I come back and start on Midnight’s Children. Javed tells me that’s it’s genetically impossible for me to slow down!

Looking at the amount of theatre you’re doing, have films taken a backseat?
• I am doing films as well. I’ve got a lot of scripts to look at but at this stage, only these many roles that come my way are good roles. I’m at a very comfortable stage where I don’t need to do anything unless I want to do it.

What would you consider your important milestones?
• In films, the milestone would be that I decided to join the film institute, that shaped my future. Then I always feel it’s about being at the right place at the right time. I have been really fortunate as Ankur happened, parallel cinema happened. I got wonderful roles and parts. Again in 88-89, I started doing films abroad because the Indians and Asians started becoming so much a part of the fabric abroad that roles started becoming available. Becoming the Member of Parliament was the biggest learning curve in my life. I took it very seriously and I think I benefited very deeply.

Professionally, life has been very good to you, personally did you ever regret not having kids of your own?
• Regret is too big a word, I don’t regret anything in my life. Yes, my life would have been different if I had kids. For a long time, I didn’t believe that I couldn’t have kids, I thought I’m God’s loved child, I’ll have everything. But when I came to terms with it, I really came to terms with it. I didn’t create an ache in my heart, because I really enjoy Zoya and Farhan, and for that I really thank Honey from my heart. They came to me when they had had their measles and chicken pox and I didn’t have to deal with any of that! (laughs) Of course, it would have been wonderful if I had kids, life would have been different.