Shabana went to commit suicide when her mother scolded her: Sold coffee at petrol pump for 3 months, had a crush on Shashi Kapoor

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Versatile actress Shabana Azmi turns 73 today. Shabana, who made her Bollywood debut with the film Ankur in 1974, has done many memorable films like Arth, Thodi Si Bewafai, Namkeen, Fire, Makdi. Shabana, who was a part of 160 films, was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2012.

Shabana was of a playful nature. Once, after being scolded by her mother, she had reached the railway track to commit suicide; a watchman stopped her on the track. There came a time when he even sold coffee at the petrol pump to help his family. Shabana, daughter of great poet Kaifi Azmi and famous theater actress Shaukat Azmi, was also inclined towards both acting and literature. However, she carried forward her mother’s legacy and entered films.

Read interesting stories related to the life of Shabana Azmi on her birthday…

childhood spent in poverty
Shabana was born on 18 September 1950 in Hyderabad to poet Kaifi Azmi and renowned theater artist Shaukat Azmi. Shortly after birth, Kaifi Azmi shifted to Mumbai with his family. He was a member of the Communist Party.

Shabana with father Kaifi Azmi and mother Shaukat Azmi in one frame.

Shabana with father Kaifi Azmi and mother Shaukat Azmi in one frame.

Kaifi Azmi was very serious about his work. He used to spend his entire time in poetry and party work. The family lived in one room in an 8-room house. Different families lived in the remaining 7 rooms.

There was no major source of income. Whatever money he earned from writing, he used to deposit it all in the party’s welfare fund. In return the party used to give him only Rs 40. It was difficult to run the family with this money but despite this he took care of the entire family.

Was scolded for lying for money
Once mother Shaukat Azmi’s family members were coming to the house. There was only rice at home. There was no money even to buy pulses. Little Shabana did not like seeing this situation. When she could not understand anything, she went to the house of Sardar Jafri who lived next door. He said to Sardar Jafri’s sister – I need 8 annas, mother has asked for it. Seeing the need, he gave 8 annas to Shabana Azmi.

Shabana went to her mother with the money. Mother asked- Where did you get this money?

Shabana said- When he fell on the road, I picked him up.

Mother replied – One should not pick up money fallen on the road. They had to be left there.

Shabana said- I didn’t see anyone there so I picked it up.

Saying this she went to play. After some time, Sardar Jafri’s sister came and asked Shaukat Azmi whether he had got the money. Shaukat Azmi understood that Shabana had lied, she became very angry. Shabana was scolded a lot. Taught them that whatever work they do, do it after being told.

Went to the railway track to commit suicide after being scolded by her mother.
According to Shaukat Azmi’s autobiography ‘Kaifi and I Memoir’, once her mother, angry with Shabana over some issue, angrily asked her to leave the house. Shabana became very sad. Then he tried to come in front of the train at the Grant Road railway station.

Luckily the watchman of his school was present there. Seeing Shabana the watchman started shouting. Saying ‘baby…baby what are you doing’ he pulled Shabana.

Never ask for extra money from parents
Shabana has been a principled person since childhood. Mother used to give him 30 paise daily for the bus from Juhu to Santa Cruz station. If she wanted any snacks, she would get down at Juhu Chowpatty to save five paise. But never asked for extra money from parents.

Sold coffee to help family
After passing first division in Senior Cambridge, Shabana sold coffee at a petrol pump for three months before taking admission in college. From this he earned Rs 30 per day. He never told his parents about this. One day Shabana gave all the money she had earned to her mother. Then the mother came to know about it.

Came into films in 1974
Mother Shaukat Azmi used to go on tour from place to place with Prithvi Theatre. She also used to take Shabana along with her. Shabana was also cast in the crowd during the show. From here he got inclined towards acting.

Shabana graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in 1973. Then he entered Bollywood with Shyam Bengal’s directorial film Ankur (1974). Has done tremendous acting in films like Arth, Nishant, Junoon, Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Thodi Si Bewafai, Namkeen, Fire, Makdi.

Was once in a relationship with Shekhar Kapur
Shabana Azmi had confessed in an interview to Film Companion that she had been in a relationship with Shekhar Kapur, the director of films like ‘Bandit Queen’ for many years. Their breakup also happened with mutual consent. Shabana had also said that even after their breakup, she did a film with Shekhar. Its director was Shekhar and his wife Medha was assisting him.

Shabana with Shashi Kapoor during film shooting.

Shabana with Shashi Kapoor during film shooting.

Shabana had a crush on Shashi Kapoor
During an interview in 2004, Shabana had admitted that she had a crush on Shashi Kapoor. Shabana had said, Shashi and his wife Jennifer were our family friends. Prithviraj Kapoor lived in the neighborhood of my parents and every Sunday when Shashi Kapoor came to meet my father, I used to buy a photo of him to sign. When I was selected with him for ‘Fakira’ (1976), I was nervous. He was a great hero. Shashi and Jennifer made me beautiful.

Attempted breakup several times before marriage
During an interview in 2004, Shabana had said, ‘Javed would often come to Abba with poetry and seek advice. When I got to know him, he seemed funny, well-informed and in many ways like Abba. This was the reason why I was attracted towards him. Javed was already married, so we tried to breakup several times. Later he divorced his first wife and we got married on 9 December 1984.

Shabana Azmi with Javed Akhtar.

Shabana Azmi with Javed Akhtar.

Javed Akhtar’s first marriage was with Honey Irani. Both have two children. Javed and Honey were married in March 1972 and 7 months later, in October 1972, they became parents of daughter Zoya. Their son Farhan Akhtar was born in 1974. It is noteworthy that Shabana and Javed do not have any children.

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