Galway: Sunday 21st and Tuesday 23rd May 2006
Amnesty International and the Irish Centre for Human Rights are proud to present guest speakers Ms Shabana Azmi and Mr. Javed Akhtar, both of whom are well known for their tremendous contribution to Indian cinema and culture, and more recently, for their public stance in campaigning for equality and human rights in India.
Actress and social activist Shabana Azmi first made her mark in the alternative cinema movement in India in the 1970s, and has since acted in over 200 films, both mainstream and alternative. 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 has been an outspoken opponent of religious right-wing groups, Hindu or Muslim, and has courageously stood up to the harassment, threats and physical danger that she has faced in consequence. In April 1989, she undertook a four-day march for communal harmony from Delhi to Meerut. Being a high-profile movie star has not kept her from participating in street plays and demonstrations against the rising tide of sectarianism (or 'communalism' as it is termed in India) in recent years. She remains an important ally of Indian peace and social justice movements, and a staunch advocate of the country's secular democratic traditions.
Javed Akhtar is a gifted Urdu poet as well as a hugely successful scriptwriter and lyricist. As part of the script writing duo Salim-Javed in the 1970s, he redefined mainstream Indian cinema by creating the persona of the 'angry young man'.
His commercial Bollywood success often draws attention away from his sustained and thoughtful engagement with his status as a member of India's Muslim minority. Long engaged in efforts to mobilise liberal Muslim leadership in India, Akhtar is the President of the organisation 'Muslims for Secular Democracy', which advances a progressive, secular and feminist stance on issues pertaining to Indian Muslims. He is also a key figure in the organisation '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.
Program of Events (Limited Places, booking in advance recommended)
Amnesty International will host a screening of 'Ankur/the Seedling' Shyam Benegal, India, 1973
Sunday 21st May 7.30pm, IT Building NUIG Tickets €7/€5
Shabana Azmi burst onto the Indian film scene with her performance in this widely hailed landmark of Indian cinema. Surya (Anant Nag), a pampered college student sent to take over his family's properties in the countryside drifts into an affair with Lakshmi (Azmi), a married servant. When Lakshmi becomes pregnant, Surya is forced to confront some harsh truths about himself and status in this rural universe.
Based on an actual incident in the Hyderabad area, the film focuses on power and privilege – not in the manner of standard hero / villain or black and white terms but with careful thought and acute perception. The film is memorable for its engrossing details of rural life and its exposure of the feudal system that is brutal and indifferent. But before anything it is primarily a study of human rather than social relationships, and it is this facet of the story which gives it wider significance.
Screening of Dev Benegal's documentary : Shabana Followed by a talk and Q&A given by Shabana Azmi & Javed Akhtar.
Tuesday 23rd May at 7.45 pm IT Building, NUIG Tickets: €7/5
This documentary combines the many facets which are Shabana Azmi, featuring her cinematic career and her work in human rights.
As if 60-odd films, and a considerable number of stage appearances, in a 30-year career were not enough, Shabana Azmi has also found time to devote to politics. She is currently a Member of the Indian Parliament, where she has become known as a fierce and powerful advocate for the disadvantaged, fighting for the rights of minorities, slum dwellers, and women. Her political work can almost be seen as an extension of her work as an actress; so often Shabana Azmi has portrayed women discovering how to stand up to the many forces that seek to oppress them.
Block Pass whole event €10/€8,
Amnesty International 2-3 Middle Street, Galway 091 533 637