Shabana Azmi: ‘The fight today is not between religions but between world views that are tolerant or intolerant’

Shabana Azmi’s Mee Raqsam, is on its way to the Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals. The film will be showcased on opening night and will be in the company of more than 60 films from South Asia. And Shabana could not be more proud.

Shabana said in an interview with Hindustan Times that the film is a tribute to her father, late legendary poet, Kaifi Azmi. It is directed and produced by her brother Baba Azmi and Shabana is the one presenting it. Set in Kaifi’s birthplace Mijwan, it tells the tale of a young Muslim girl who wants to pursue bharatnatyam. As she meet opposition from her community, her father stands by her side.

Watch full interview:


The film’s lead star Aditi Subedi is also from Mijwan. “What it has done is that it has created sort of a chain reaction in the villages of Mijwan where suddenly the girls are feeling that it’ s OK to have a huge dream because it is possible that the dream can be realised. That to me, is what would have made my father very, very happy because he worked for the empowerment of the girl child and women all his life,” she told HT. “There are so many people in our small towns who have so much talent,” she added.

Mee Raqsam’s biggest strength is the father-daughter relationship shared by Danish Hussain and Aditi. Shabana says her parents also taught her by example. She recalled how until the age of 9, she would live with a commune of eight-nine families, all sharing a single bathroom. “We never had any money. All the money we used to get, my father would give to the Communist Party,” she said, adding that he would give only Rs 40 for the family’s needs every month. “All the values that we got is from what we saw around us. Let’s remember that 70 years ago, my father wrote an iconic poem Aurat, which said ‘Uth meri jaan, mere saath hi chalna hai tujhe’, at a time when it was believed that the role of the woman was to sit at home and look after children. He said ‘No! You have to march, shoulder to shoulder’,” Shabana said.

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The film also stars Naseeruddin Shah, who plays a bigoted, unaccepting community leader who tries all he can to keep the young dancer away from her dreams. But Shabana wants to clarify that the film shows no community in strictly negative light. “The film is not targeting a community. It is targeting a way of thinking, a world view. Because both communities have been shown with their problems and their good qualities also. We have to understand that the fight today is between not religions but between world views that are tolerant and liberal on one side as against the intolerant and fundamentalist on the other. That, I think is a very powerful thing that the film says,” she said.

Mee Raqsam premiered on Zee5 in August.

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Reference: HT

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