Subhash K Jha (DNA; April 11, 2017)

Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor are two contemporary actresses who look up to Shabana Azmi, but the veteran actress looks up to Jaya Bachchan.

On Jaya’s 69th birthday, Shabana had a message for her. She said, “I want Mrs Bachchan to know that I am here, in this film industry, because of her. Years ago, I wasn’t sure if someone with my unconventional looks could pull off a career in Hindi cinema. Then I saw Jayaji in Suman by Madan Bavaria. It was a short diploma-film produced by the Film & Television Institute Of India. It changed my life. It gave me a sense of direction. I realised I could be an actress. Heroine aisi bhi ho sakti hai.”

Today, Shabana is an idolised actress herself. “It’s heartening to hear Vidya Balan or Sonam Kapoor say they admire my work. I must have done something right.”

Sonam’s ‘special mention’ at the National Awards fills Shabana with maternal pride. “Sonam is like my own bachcha. To see her growth as an artist is a very fulfilling experience for me. Her recognition is such a glorious validation of her talent. I am extremely proud of her,” she adds.