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Shabana Azmi awarded Freedom of the City of London

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London, May 14 (PTI) Celebrated actress Shabana Azmi has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of her prolific contribution to Indian cinema and as a campaigner for women’s rights.

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The 73-year-old winner of five National Awards for Best Actress and six Filmfare Awards, who was in London for a celebration of her 50 years in cinema at the annual UK Asian Film Festival (UKAFF), received the honour at a ceremony last week.

The Freedom of the City of London dates back to the 13th century and is conferred upon individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Freedom of the City of London award. It is a testament to the power of cinema and activism that we are able to transcend borders and make a meaningful impact on society,” said Azmi.

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“I am grateful for this recognition and remain committed to using my voice and platform to advocate for positive change,” she said.

She was nominated by Alderman Alastair King DL and Deputy Brian Mooney BEM for the award, conferred by the financial hub of London referred to as the City of London or the Square Mile.

“I was delighted to nominate Shabana to receive this award for her remarkable contributions, both on and off screen. With an impressive acting career, coupled with her unwavering commitment to make the world a better place, it is not surprising that she is regarded as a role model by so many women who look to her for inspiration,” said Alderman King.

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Azmi made her debut in Satyajit Ray’s 1974 classic 'Ankur', among the films screened at UKAFF this year as part of its “Celebrating the Golden Girl of Indian Cinema” segment. Outside the world of stage and screen, the award recognises her as a strong advocate for public health and women’s rights, serving as President of Nivara Hakk – a housing rights non-governmental organisation – and heading the Mijwan Welfare Society, focusing on the upliftment of rural India.

“Her unequivocal talent, commitment, and dedication, makes her a trailblazer in global cinema; the versatility and authenticity in the characters she has played has helped to inspire many women across the globe,” said City of London Corporation Policy Chairman Chris Hayward.

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the UK capital's Square Mile, committed to supporting a diverse and sustainable London. Recent high-profile recipients of the Freedom of the City of London include former England footballer Ian Wright, double Olympic gold medallist Tom Dean and the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty.

Azmi’s City of London accolade was followed by the Tongues on Fire Golden Flame Award at the closing night gala on Sunday, where the veteran actress was honoured for her contribution to Indian cinema.

While celebrated playback and classical singer Kavita Krishnamurthy was felicitated with the Golden Flame Lifetime Achievement Award, designer Rina Dhaka received a Flame Award for Celebrating Sustainable Fashion and Supriya Pathak won the Flame Best Actor award for the film ‘Baby Castro’ which was screened at the annual festival. PTI AK AMS

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