Veteran actress Shabana Azmi paved the way for Indian actors to work in international projects. However, it took a considerable time for her to get a ‘colour blind casting’, 34 years to be precise after her first stint on the global stage.
The actress, who will be soon seen in the sci-fi series ‘Halo’ which premiers on Voot Select, recently spoke with IANS about her association with the project, her character in the series and how working in a new genre of sci-fi enriched the artiste in her.
To her, the project came, “as a bit of a surprise”. Her agent was in talks with the producers of the show but he “never mentioned it” to her.
The senior actress says, “It was only when it was finalized that he told me and I was really delighted. Once I was finalized, a FaceTime call was set up with Otto Bachurst, the director whom I was very impressed with because of his work in ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’.
“He talked to me at length and then he said that he will be calling me to the boot camp in Budapest and before I knew it I was in Budapest”, she explained further.
Talking about her character, she shares, “She is Margaret Paragonsky, an admiral. She is Admiral.
Ask her as to what’s the most interesting thing of this project is and she replies, “The whole thing which I found very interesting about that the Asian actors have been asking for colour blind casting for the last 30 years saying, ‘why is it automatically presumed that the mainstream is the Caucasian?'”.
She continues, “The conversation has been going along for a long time and I remember the first time I saw a play by Peter Brooks in New York in which an African American was playing a brother of a Chinese guy. It has taken so long for even the African Americans to work sans boundaries of colour.”
Expressing her happiness at the changing paradigm, she adds, “I am very happy that they have been doing this now and with ‘Halo’ we have a truly international cast, we have fellow artistes from Korea, Canada, America, India and everywhere. This show is a microcosm of the world and nobody was asked to change their appearance, they were accepted as they are.”
Sharing how the show helped in enriching her creative impulses, she says, “It is always interesting to do something that is totally out of your realm. At this point where I am in life, it is very easy to say that I have done everything so what is new and this is as new as it can get for me.”
“So it was a challenge but it was also something which gave me an adrenaline rush. I had a near fatal accident in Mumbai and 21 days after that I was on sets of ‘Halo’ in Budapest and I hadn’t got my balance right, I wasn’t steady on my feet. It was difficult but suddenly, the adrenaline took over and I gave it all. That’s what is always exciting about any kind of creative work”, she concluded.
‘Halo’, which also stars Pablo Schreiber, Natascha McElhone, Charlie Murphy, Bokeem Woodbine and Olive Gray, will be available to stream exclusively on Voot Select from March 24.