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Shabana Azmi on her prep for ‘The Empire’: ‘When you play a historical character that you automatically put on that Mughal-e-Azam voice’

Shabana Azmi believes whenever an actor gets to do a historical character, he/she enters the Mughal-e-Azam mode.
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The trailer of the Hotstar Specials series, set in the Mughal era, The Empire, has received a lot of attention from the audience including many celebrities. The historic drama casts Kunal Kapoor essays the role of Mughal emperor Babar, while Shabana Azmi plays Babar’s grandmother Esan Daulat and Dino Morea as Babar’s nemesis Shaybani Khan. Drashti Dhami and Rahul Dev can also be seen playing a vital role in the series.

Shabana Azmi is excited to be a part of the eight-episode series, “I loved the part as it had so many layers and I love how it gave me the choice to make choices,” the veteran actor, who is playing a historical character for the first time, said during a press conference.

The 70-year-old actor said, “I always wanted to play a historic character. Begum Esan Daulat is such an interesting woman. She lives with a secret which you will get to know in my last scene. Generally, it is a man who is a kingmaker, but I think it is for the first time that a woman is handling the mechanisation of the entire empire. Also, I love Urdu language and I was getting to speak it so I hopped on the opportunity,” citing why did she decide to sign up for the show.

Adding she said, “All the women here have really strong characters and this is something that we need to see more. We need to give far more visibility to our female characters.”

Though the actress has been a part of the film industry for over four decades now, she was worried about her dialogue delivery in The Empire. Explaining how she prepared for the role, “In my prep, the basic challenge was that I should learn the dialogue and yet it should not sound like I am pontificating. There is a tendency when you play a historical character that you automatically put on that Mughal-e-Azam voice because you don’t have much reference point. So, you have to say the dialogues in a way that you retain the ‘adaa’ but you don’t lose the emotion in the effort to say the dialogue. That for me was important. We also worked a lot on the costume and decided to keep it tribal and not go for all diamonds and that regal look.”

The Empire is all set for a release on Disney Plus Hotstar on August 27.

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