Shabana Azmi is one of the leading actresses of parallel cinema. Her performances in films in a variety of genres have generally earned her praise and awards including five wins of the National Film Award for Best Actress. She is married to Indian poet and screenwriter Javed Akhtar.
She made her debut with Shyam Benegal's movie `Ankur` (1974), which went on to become a critical success, winning her the National Film Award for Best Actress. She received the National Film Award consecutively for three years from 1983 to 1985 for her roles in movies like `Arth`, `Khandhar` and `Paar`.
Another film `Godmother` (1999) earned her another National Film Award, taking her tally to five. Deepa Mehta's 1996 film `Fire` depicts her as a lonely woman, Radha in love with her sister-in-law. Her role as Radha brought her international recognition with the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress at the 32nd Chicago Film Festival and Jury Award for Best Actress at Outfest, Los Angeles.
Some of her notable films include Shyam Benegal's `Nishant` (1975), `Junoon` (1978), `Suman` (1986), `Antarnaad` (1992); `Shatranj Ke Khiladi`; Mrinal Sen's 'Khandhar`, `Genesis`, `Ek Din Achanak`; Sai Paranjpye's `Sparsh` and `Disha`; Aparna Sen's `Picnic and Sati`; Mahesh Bhatt's `Arth` and Vinay Shukla's `Godmother`.
Her other films include the commercially successful Manmohan Desai's `Amar Akbar Anthony`, `Parvarish` and Prakash Mehra's Jwalamukhi`.
Azmi starred in Hollywood productions such as John Schlesinger's `Madame Sousatzka` (1988) and Roland Joffe's 'City of Joy` (1992).
She is also a social activist. She has campaigned against ostracism of victims of AIDS.