One of India’s finest screen icons and most visible crusaders for social justice is set to celebrate International Women’s Day in London by bringing her critically acclaimed new play about family, fame, identity and language in the digital age.
‘Broken Images’ is directed by Alyque Padamsee and is adapted from the acclaimed 2004 Kannada play ‘Odakalu Bimba’ by the renowned playwright Girish Karnad. Azmi plays dual roles in the play – that of Majula Sharma, a marginally successful Hindi short-story writer who finds overnight fame and fortune after publishing an English language novel written by her late twin sister Malini.
Her new-found success however, leads to a conflict within Majula who begins to question her own competence and whether she has betrayed her own culture, language and family.
‘Broken Images’ has played to critical acclaim in India and the United States and is arriving in London on 12 March.
It’s appropriate that Azmi – a National Award-winning veteran of stage and screen who’s enjoyed a glittering 40-year career in India and beyond – is in London during the week of International Women’s Day given her lifelong commitment to fighting for gender equality and social justice in India.
Azmi is arguably India’s greatest artist-advocate, giving much-needed impetus to the women’s equality movement with her bold and female-centric choices on the big screen as well as using her fame to campaign on a wide variety of issues.
Azmi has long been a fierce critic of religious extremism and communalism in India, once leading a four-day March aimed at promoting communal harmony. Among the other causes that she is particularly passionate about is the marginalization of HIV/AIDS patients in India; improving the lives of inhabitants of slums and equal rights for women in the cinema business and beyond.
Activism and progressive values are in her DNA. Her father, the well-known Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi, and her mother, the theatre actress Shaukat Kaifi, were both prominent members of India’s post-independence progressive artists movement.
In recent years she has taken up a cause that was close to her father’s heart by “adopting” a village in rural northern India where she provides education, training and employment to underprivileged Muslim girls and women.
Since 1989, she has been a member of the National Integration Council – a national body headed by the Prime Minister which that aims to fight communalism and caste bias; a member of the National Aids Commission of India; and is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population fund.