Veteran actress Shabana Azmi firmly believes in LGBTQ rights. In 1996, when the movement was in its infancy, Shabana dared to play a lesbian in Deepa Mehta’s Fire.
“Now, 23 years later, I’ve moved on,” says Shabana, “In Sheer Qorma, I play the mother of a daughter, played by Divya Dutta, who is in a same-sex marriage. Many years after the marriage, Divya’s character returns with her partner (played by Swara Bhasker) to get her mother’s approval. It is a fabulous role and a great concept. When the director Faraz Arif Ansari came to me with the offer, I was moved to tears. It is such a simple emotional story about acceptance.”
This is not the first time that Shabana plays a mother coming to terms with her daughter’s sexuality. In Fawzia Mirza’a Signature Move, Shabana was cast as the mother of a Pakistani lesbian in America who must reconcile her orthodox upbringing and beliefs with her daughter’s sexual preference.
“It is very important for actors to do films that open up dark spaces in our society. Playing safe is not always a desirable thing to do. One has to step out of their comfort zones and explore subjects that may seem uncomfortable but must be addressed,” the actress opines.