Shabana Azmi
Presenter Shabana Azmi thrilled as Mee Raqsam chosen to open Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals
Uma Ramasubramanian (MID-DAY; September 28, 2020)

Mee Raqsam, directed by Baba Azmi, has been chosen as the opening movie of the 2020 Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals (CoSAFF), which kicks off on October 3. The recognition only goes on to reaffirm Shabana Azmi's faith in the movie — the senior actor was so moved by the story of Maryam, who aspires to become a Bharatnatyam dancer, that she turned presenter for the film. "It's an honour to be the opening film of any festival. I wish the gala could be held physically instead of virtually, but the silver lining is that our movie will reach so many people," says Shabana.

While spreading the larger message of secularism, the film also focuses on the beautiful father-daughter bond as Maryam's father stands against Muslim fundamentalist leaders and helps her pursue her dream. "The father is shown as a humble tailor in the village, but he stands up for his daughter with such dignity. It is so different from the toxic masculinity that we see around. The film emphasises that we need to redefine masculinity; it's not about power and muscle, masculinity is about being gentle and sensitive," says Shabana, adding that the character reminded her of poet-father Kaifi Azmi. "He did not have an iota of fear in him, and was so gentle. I had never heard him raise his voice." The drama, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Aditi Subedi, is Baba and Shabana's tribute to their late father.

Naseeruddin Shah in the film