Shabana Azmi’s 50 years in cinema to be celebrated at the New York Indian Film Festival

The 24th edition of the NYIFF will run from May 31 to June 2
Shabana Azmi’s 50 years in cinema to be celebrated at the New York Indian Film Festival

The 50-year cinematic journey of veteran Indian actor Shabana Azmi will be celebrated next month at the New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), the annual celebration of features and documentaries from the Indian subcontinent.

The 24th edition of the NYIFF will run from May 31 to June 2 and showcase 49 narrative, documentaries and short films starring some of the biggest names in cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah.

With the year 2024 marking Azmi's five decades in Indian and international cinema, the gala will celebrate this landmark anniversary with a special event that will include the screening of her 1996 film Fire, directed by Deepa Mehta.

"I have been associated with the New York Indian Film Festival since its inception and I am heartened by the progress it has made over the years in leaps and bounds. I am happy that my 50th year is being celebrated at the NYIFF and I look forward to it," a NYIFF statement quoted Azmi as saying.

Azmi, 73, who will attend this year's NYIFF, will delve into her "remarkable journey, from her groundbreaking debut in Shyam Benegal's Ankur, to her trailblazing roles that have earned her five National Film Awards and international accolades," the statement said.

It added that beyond her cinematic achievements, Azmi's “dedication to social activism, particularly for the rights of women and the underprivileged, is truly inspiring." The Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee has starred in over 140 Hindi films and 12 international productions such as Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children, Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Ismail Merchant's In Custody.

"From her gripping portrayal in Ankur to her recent roles in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani and Ghoomer, her collaborations transcend borders, with projects including Shekhar Kapur's What's Love Got to Do with It? and Steven Spielberg's prestigious mini-series Halo," the statement said.

The festival, presented by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), will open with the film Dear Jassi, directed by Indian-American filmmaker Tarsem Singh, who has made films with Jennifer Lopez and Julia Roberts, besides directing videos for music legends like the bands R.E.M. and Lady Gaga. Closing the festival will be the Sanya Malhotra-starrer Mrs, directed by Arati Kadav.

Highlights of this year's festival include the Bachchan and Vivek Gomber starrer The Umesh Chronicles by filmmaker Pooja Kaul; Naseeruddin Shah in the short film Khidki, documentary Merchant Ivory, and Tannishtha Chatterjee in American filmmaker Wendy Bednarz's debut film Yellow Bus.

This year's festival line-up features films that "showcase the depth and range of contemporary Indian cinema, including cutting-edge dramas, documentaries, and shorts, some that premiered at Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival," said IAAC.

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