Shabana Azmi: When not shooting, I'm shopping for groceries
Resuming work on Steven Spielberg's Halo in Budapest amid pandemic, Shabana Azmi on enjoying her stint away from home
While we continue to be confined within the four walls of our homes, Shabana Azmi has not only dashed off to Budapest but also raced ahead in time to the 26th century. Earlier this month, the actor resumed work on Steven Spielberg's futuristic sci-fi adventure television series Halo, which has been adapted from a video game. The Otto Bathurst-directed venture, also featuring Pablo Schreiber and Natascha McElhone, sees Azmi play Admiral Margaret Parangosky, the head of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
"It's lovely to be back on the set. Pablo Schreiber and Natasha McElhone are wonderful co-stars. We have adopted the bio-bubble mode, and are following several precautionary measures," says the actor, who will be stationed in the Hungarian capital till December. When she is not facing the camera or rehearsing her lines, Azmi jokes that she is busy making errand lists. "I live in an apartment here. I am washing clothes, cleaning and shopping for groceries — something that I never need to do in India. I have a house help who comes to service the apartment. I cannot cook to save my life, so I order in on most days," she laughs, evidently cherishing the experience of living on her own in a foreign land.
The past few months have been hectic for Shabana Azmi — she shot for Nikkhil Advani's web series, Moghuls, before joining the unit of Halo. The actor marvels how the two projects are worlds apart. "One is a historical drama and the other, a futuristic sci-fi show! An actor cannot ask for more diverse subjects," she says, noting that the difference in the working styles of the Hindi film industry and Hollywood is gradually diminishing. "Now, we have proper call sheets. Earlier, that was not the case [in Bollywood]. I remember, Rajesh Khanna and I were shooting a scene in Khar for Aravind Sen's film [Nasihat, 1986] while Kader Khan was writing the next scene in RK Studios, where he was shooting for another film! It's a miracle that we, actors, managed to bring any authenticity at all."
Though the actor missed being part of Diwali festivities in Mumbai, she celebrated it in her own way. "I lit two diyas, wished everybody on Facetime and ordered pizza. It's a strange feeling to be away from home during the festival because we celebrate it in a grand manner."
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