BY KERNAN ANDREWS, Galyway Advertisor, 04-05-2006,
Shabana Azmi is a legend in Bollywood cinema but she is also one of India's leading campaigners for human rights and she will be coming to Galway to speak about her work later this month.
Shabana Azmi is an actress, a Muslim, and a campaigner for human rights in India. She will be in Galway from Sunday May 21 to Tuesday 23. A number of her films will be screened and she will also hold discussions on India, Islamaphobia, women's rights, poverty, and human rights. With her will be the poet and screenwriter Javed Akhtar, who also campaigns for equality in India. The events are being organised by Amnesty International in Galway and The Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI, Galway.
On Sunday May 21, Ankur/The Seedling (1973), starring Ms Azmi, will be screened in the IT Building, NUIG, at 7.30pm. On Monday 22 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm Ms Azmi and Mr Akhtar will host a round table discussion on human rights in India at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUIG. On Tuesday May 23 at 8pm Dev Benegal's documentary Shabana will be screened in the IT Building, NUIG. This will be followed by a discussion with Ms Azmi and Mr Akhtar .
Shabana Azmi first made her mark in the alternative cinema movement in India in the 1970s, and has since acted in more than 200 films, both mainstream and alternative. She has won more awards than anyone in the history of Indian cinema, both nationally and internationally. In 2006 she received the Crystal award at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (jointly with Michael Douglas, Muhammad Ali, and Gilberto Gil), for excellence in the field of culture; and in March, at the Indian film industry's premier awards ceremony, she received the recognition of a lifetime achievement award.
A former member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament, Azmi is a committed social activist, best known for her work on slum dwellers' rights and communal harmony. She once undertook a five day hunger strike to protest slum demolitions in the guise of city beautification initiatives. She is the chairwoman of Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti which opposes demolition's on the grounds that they only create worse slums from already existing ones and argues instead for upgrading of slum dwellings. She has been an outspoken opponent of religious right-wing groups and sectarianism.
Javed Akhtar is an Urdu poet as well as a hugely successful scriptwriter and lyricist. He has long been engaged in efforts to mobilise liberal Muslim leadership in India. He is also president of Muslims for Secular Democracy, which advances a progressive and feminist stance on issues pertaining to Indian Muslims. He is also a key figure in Citizens for Justice and Peace, which has been struggling to bring to court those involved in the massacres of Muslims in the Gujarat pogroms of 2002.
For tickets to the above events contact Amnesty International, 2-3 Middle Street, or phone 091 – 533637.