Actor Vidya Balan considers veteran actor Shabana Azmi as her “strongest inspiration”, and prefers to call herself a humanist, rather than an activist. Besides her repertoire of several award-winning films including Parineeta, Paa, No One Killed Jessica and The Dirty Picture, Vidya’s humanitarian efforts are well-known. The National Award winner has been instrumental in campaigning for child nutrition and education, and women’s empowerment.
She has been appointed by the Indian government as the brand ambassador in the drive to improve sanitary conditions in the country. “My work is an extension of my beliefs. I don’t think I am an activist at all. I am an actor first and I try using that to leverage attention to some of the causes I am associated with. I think I am a humanist,” says Vidya.
Inspiration for many, Viday says she’s inspired by Azmi. “Shabana Azmi has been one of my strongest inspirations. I was truly awestruck by Shabana Azmi’s performance in Arth. I still am,” Vidya said during a fund-raiser by the Bengal Chamber for the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy last week. “I like walking in other people’s shoes. I tend to empathise with people, so I always wonder what a certain person might do in a certain situation,” she says.