Shabana Azmi's father Kaifi Azmi was a renowned Urdu poet and writer and her mother, Shaukat Azmi, is a well known stage actress. Her brother Baba is a cinematographer.
She graduated from the Film and Television Institute in India and her first film, Ankur, shot her into national prominence with the top awards. Since her first movie in 1972, she has worked with most of the top directors of Hindi cinema, and the list of her notable films and awards is long.
Not shy of controversies, Shabana has played roles ranging from a lesbian on screen to activist and champion of minority rights. She is also known for her social activism off screen and has also been a member of parliament.
She continues to devote time to theatre and has acted in numerous international projects and languages including Norwegian.
Shabana is married to Javed Akhtar.