Chalk n Duster is an upcoming film where Shabana Azmi plays a mathematics teacher singing a ditty for children to learn BODMAS.

The music composer of the film, Sandesh Shandaliya says, “I have always been a big fan of Shabanaji’s acting and now she lent voice for one of my compositions. I`m really grateful to her. Shabanaji being a popular theatre artist memorized the lyrics in a short span. The song has come out really well.”

Shabana Azmi asked the composer to share the tune and lyrics and the song was recorded in 20 minutes!

But that has not always been the case for actors clearing their vocal cords. In recent Hindi films, actresses have begun to sing for their parts, most recently Alia Bhatt (Highway, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania), Shraddha Kapoor (Ek Villain), Priyanka Chopra (Mary Kom). Most of these songs have a gimmicky appeal and are quickly forgotten.

Also forgotten is the only time Shabana Azmi gave singing a thought. Her father, poet Kaifi Azmi aspired for her to sing. So she did in Muzaffar Ali’s film Anjuman (1986). She sang three solos and one duet with ghazal maestro Bhupinder Singh. None of these were a marketing shtick. Not back in the day, when you sang only if you could sing. Shabana has gone on record to say that singing is a more difficult job than acting.

So do we hear her pour her soul in this?


Or when she pays a tribute to poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, singing the poet’s rebel poem Bol, and this is strictly offline, not playback.