Actors should make informed choices on item numbers: Shabana Azmi

Published: January 26, 2015
Shabana Azmi is a multiple national and international award winner for her work in the film industry. PHOTO: AFP

Shabana Azmi is a multiple national and international award winner for her work in the film industry. PHOTO: AFP

KOLKATA: Veteran actor-social activist Shabana Azmi has said that  female actors should make “informed” choices on accepting item numbers as such sequences lead to sexualisation of children.

“I am saying let it be an informed decision. I am not going to dictate what you should do. But be aware that when you do a song like that it is leading to the sexualisation of children and there are four-year-old girls dancing at all kinds of weddings to really bad songs,” Azmi said.

“So be vigilant of the fact that this is leading to the sexualisation of children and if this is something that you would like to do… make your own choice but make sure it is an informed choice,” she said at a special session of the Kolkata Literary Meet here to a query on responsibility of female actors while doing item numbers.

Shabana also batted for “self-regulation” on part of the film industry but also stressed that one can’t surrender to the moral brigade. “Self-regulation is very important for the film industry. It is a very thin line because if you start saying this is wrong… this item number is wrong then tomorrow the moral brigade will say don’t wear this… don’t do this. You can’t surrender to the moral brigade… so whatever comes must come from yourself…” she added.

Azmi also expressed hope for women in Hindi cinema, observing that roles are becoming substantial for them and are being written for all age groups.

“I am very hopeful. I feel the roles are becoming substantial in films that are women-centric, but even within the films themselves,” Shabana said. The multiple National Award winner highlighted the fact that the current crop of films are incorporating characters of working women, and that women artists are demanding meatier roles.

“Today even in gangster movies, women are working…I think there is a greater understanding within the women artistes themselves where they are demanding more meat if not necessarily in terms of the length, but definitely in terms of what the character is,” she said, adding that various age groups are being portrayed in Hindi cinema today, Azmi said.

“I think it is a very important time for Hindi cinema because roles are being written for all age groups. Earlier 30 was the end of a women’s career. But today the roles are opening up and they are available, so I do think that happy times are here,” she said.

The reason, according to Shabana, is the advent of multiplexes. “The advent of multiplexes has thrown up choices.”

“Today it is possible to cater to a certain section of the audience and still make your money through your multiplexes, through urban centres. There are films which don’t only depend on the lowest common denominator and that is opening up the way for lots of different things that are also being made,” she said. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th,  2015.

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