The Empire: Shabana Azmi on Her Role as Babar’s Grandmother Aisan Daulat

The Empire will stream from 27 August on the Disney+ Hotstar OTT

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Shabana Azmi in&nbsp;<em>The Empire&nbsp;</em></p></div>

The upcoming Mitakshara Kumar directorial show The Empire, is set to release on the Disney+ Hotstar OTT platform on 27 August. Shabana Azmi, opened up about her role in the show, during a press conference.

Azmi plays a historical character, Babar’s grandmother Aisan Daulat, alongside Kunal Kapoor as Mughal emperor Babar, and Dino Morea as Babar’s nemesis Shaybani Khan. Rahul Dev and Drashti Dhami also play important roles in the forthcoming series. The trailer clearly depicts that the setting of the series is in the Mughal Era and has been highly patronised by Bollywood celebrities and a diverse audience.

Shabana Azmi excitedly admitted, “I loved the part as it had so many layers and I love how it gave me the choice to make choices." She also revealed her reason for accepting the role, and divulged more details about her character.

“I always wanted to play a historic character. Begum Aisan 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."
Shabana Azmi, Actor

“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”, Azmi said proudly.


Since her debut in 1974, Shabana Azmi has been a part of the film industry for decades. Yet, she admitted that she was worried about the dialogue delivery for the role in The Empire. Azmi said that people tend to enter the 'Mughal-e-Azam' mode when they need to play a historical character.

“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."
Shabana Azmi, actor

"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," she added.


Director Mitakshara has worked as an associate director with Sanjay Leela Bhansali on period aligned dramas like Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat and has credited him for her prevailing knowledge and hands-on experience.

In an interview with Indian Express she shared, “I did show a few parts of the series to Sanjay Leela Bhansali. His reaction was what I expected. He is my teacher, I showed him to not get appreciation but to know what I have done wrong.”

Mitakshara also addressed the comparisons being made between her show The Empire and HBO's Game of Thrones. "I hadn’t seen Game of Thrones when I was making The Empire. I don’t agree with the comparisons, just because you see two people fighting, you compare it. But, if people are still comparing it, I will take it as a compliment," she said.


Disney+ Hotstar dropped a video chronicling the making of the film on Tuesday. According to the trailer's synopsis, The Empire follows "the story of a king battling against enemies, fate, family, death and even himself, in search of his kingdom."

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