'Why should Riz Ahmed being Muslim be singled out?': Shabana Azmi on Oscars lead actor category nomination

On Tuesday, scores of media outlets ran headlines with Riz Ahmed being the first Muslim actor to be nominated in the lead actor category at the 93rd annual Academy Awards for his work in ‘Sound Of Metal’.

However, veteran actor Shabana Azmi, who has worked with Ahmed in British television show ‘Banglatown Banquet’ and the film titled ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ begs to differ.

She took to Twitter and wrote, “Why should @rizwanahmed’s being “Muslim” be singled out? He is a very good actor and were he to win the Oscar I hope it will be because it’s a damn good performance and for no other reason. BTW I’ve worked with him in 2 films #BanglaTown Banquet and #Reluctant Fundamentalist.”

Meanwhile, Ahmed is up against late actor Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom’, Steven Yeun in ‘Minari’, Anthony Hopkins in ‘The Father’ and Gary Oldman for ‘Mank’.

Reacting to the nomination, Ahmed took to social media and expressed gratitude.

He wrote, “Wow! I'm honoured to be nominated by my fellow actors alongside such inspiring performances, and am grateful to the Academy for their support and encouragement. I’m equally thrilled for our visionary writer-director Darius Marder and the brilliant Paul Raci, as well as our editor Mikkel, sound designer Nicolas, and co-writer Abe Marder. These nominations represents the time, generosity and talents of so many — all of our incredible cast, crew, producers, and in particular I’d like to thank my mentors in the drumming, addiction recovery, and D/deaf communities.”

“Sound of Metal is about how a health crisis can cut you off from your life and loved ones, and force you to grow in unexpected ways. In a challenging year for so many, I hope this story can inspire us to forge new and deeper connections with ourselves and others,” he added.

‘Sound Of Metal’ narrates the story of a drummer and former heroin addict Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) coping up with his deteriorating hearing, which emerges as a threat to his music career.

The film shows his attempts to cope with the loss, time spent getting to know the realities of the community and his attempt to reclaim his life.

Also, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff and Mathieu Almar, Sound Of Metal is available on Amazon Prime Video in India.

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