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There is a difference between propaganda and art: Shabana Azmi on Mee Raqsam

The film also stars Naseeruddin Shah as an antagonistic and staunch Muslim. 

Keyur Seta

Cinematographer Baba Azmi makes his directorial debut with Mee Raqsam (2020). The film follows a Muslim father Salim (Danish Husain) who supports his daughter Maryam (Aditi Subedi) learning Bharat Natyam despite opposition from his community since, according to them, the dance form is against their religion. 

Naseeruddin Shah plays an antagonist who is strictly against Maryam learning Bharat Natyam. Veteran actress Shabana Azmi, Baba's sister, is also presenting the film.

During the online press conference of the film yesterday evening, she said that the film advocates the values that are followed by her family through her father, the Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi. 

“It celebrates the core values of pluralism and of composite culture, which we believe and know is the biggest strength of India. What it does is basically tell a story of a father’s unstinted support for his young 15-year-old daughter,” said Azmi. 

She said that the strength of Mee Raqsam lies in its subtlety. “In this seemingly simple story there are complex issues which are being raised very gently. It’s not in-your-face. It’s not like it is making a huge political comment,” said Azmi. 

The actress believes this is what takes the film away from being a propaganda machine. “This is the difference between propaganda and art. In art, the message does justice with the medium. I think this is the biggest success of Baba in this film,” she added. 

Zee5 is now streaming Mee Raqsam. 

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