Shabana Azmi on new-age actors having large entourage: I used to have a three-member team, travel in buses

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By Mahtab Ahmad

Rising costs of film shoots have often come under the scanner with several filmmakers lamenting that actors need to be more considerate in terms of the fee they charge as well as the large entourage that accompany them everywhere. “I find it astonishing that producers pick up these crazy tabs,” says veteran actor Shabana Azmi, comparing the scenario with the West where the producers have control over who is required in the crew.

Shabana Azmi speaks about actors and their large entourages these days.
Shabana Azmi speaks about actors and their large entourages these days.

Also Read: Nawazuddin Siddiqui slams actors for having big demands on sets: Some actors have five vanity vans, yeh paagalpan hai

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She adds, “In Hollywood, I have never seen anything like this except for personal trainers. The main dress designer, hairdresser and makeup artiste are all appointed by the producer’s team, [and no actor needs to bring their person staff].”

Recently, film bodies including Indian Motions Pictures Producers Association and Producers Guild Association met with other film bodies and leading talent management agencies to discuss the movie budgets, which are going out of control. One of the main areas of concern was actors’ personal team size and the expenditure that the producers have to bear.

While for many mainstream actors, moving without their team feels unimaginable, Azmi recalls the time when she would travel in buses instead of luxury cars. “During the 1970s and 1980s, I only had a three-member team — a hair dresser, a make up artist, and the driver. In low budget films, we had nobody. At the most the unit makeup man and hair dresser,” shares the actor, adding that in case of projects with a limited budget, “I used my own clothes , used the unit’s hair and make-up person and always stayed in the same hotel as the unit.”

Also Read: Sonam Bajwa on rising production cost: I often do my own makeup, styling on set

In fact, the 73-year-old actor, who has been part of iconic films such as Arth, Khandhar, Masoom, Godmother among several others, goes on to recall an interesting incident from the shooting days of her 1983 film Mandi. “I remember (late actor) Smita Patil and I had been given separate cars for the shooting of Mandi. In two days, we gave them up and travelled in the bus with all the actors because they were having so much fun while singing and playing silly games!” she recounts, sharing another anecdote where she bought her director an air ticket “when I realised he was travelling by train”.

But that is not all, Azmi reveals that back in the day, even the producers had actors’ support, if anything went haywire. “A couple of times, (late actor) Sanjeev Kumar and Shatrughan Sinha paid for the schedule, which was going to be cancelled because of funds shortage,” she ends.

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