Award-winning actress, Shabana Azmi, has received the Freedom of the City of London, in recognition of her prolific contribution to Indian cinema and as a campaigner for women’s rights.

She was nominated by Alderman Alastair King DL and Deputy Brian Mooney BEM.

Azmi made her debut performance in Satyajit Ray’s 1974 Ankur which quickly launched a successful acting career spanning over 140 Hindi films and 12 international productions.

She has won five National Awards for Best Actress and six Filmfare Awards.

This year’s UK Asian Film Festival will pay tribute to the distinctive female roles she has played over the last 50 years.

Outside the world of stage and screen, she is 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.

Other notable accolades include the Gandhi International Peace Prize, and the Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Chavez Awards.

City of London Corporation Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, said “I am delighted to support the Freedom of the City of London for Shabana and show our appreciation for all that she has done – not just in the world of stage and screen – but also for her outstanding work to bring real change in society.

“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.”

Alderman Alastair King DL, added “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.”

Speaking after the ceremony, Shabana Azmi, said “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.

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

One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.

As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.

Recent high-profile recipients include theatre entrepreneurs Dame Rosemary Squire, Sir Howard Panter, and Sir Cameron Mackintosh; former England and Arsenal footballer, Ian Wright; double Olympic gold medallist Tom Dean MBE; and the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty.