Shabana Azmi is an Indian actress of Hindi film, television and theatre. One of India's most acclaimed actresses, Azmi is known for her portrayals of distinctive, often unconventional female characters across several genres. She has won a record five National Film Awards for Best Actress, in addition to five Filmfare Awards and several international honours among other accolades. In 1998, she was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian honour of the country, and in 2012, she was awarded Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian honour. The daughter of poet Kaifi Azmi and stage actress Shaukat Azmi, she is an alumna of Film and Television Institute of India of Pune. Azmi made her film debut in 1974 and soon became one of the leading actresses of parallel cinema, a new-wave movement known for its serious content and neorealism and received government patronage during the times. Azmi has since appeared in over 160 Hindi films in both mainstream and independent cinema, and since 1988, she has acted in several foreign projects. Several of her films have been cited as a form of progressivism which portrays Indian society, its customs and traditions. In addition to acting, Azmi is a social and women's rights activist. She is married to poet and screenwriter Javed Akhtar. She is a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA). In appreciation of Azmi's life and works, the President of India gave her a nominated (unelected) membership of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament.
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