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When teenager Aditi Subedi demanded a face-off with Naseeruddin Shah

The actress from Azamgarh plays a Muslim girl who is passionate about Bharat Natyam in Baba Azmi's directorial debut Mee Raqsam.

Keyur Seta

Sixteen-year-old Aditi Subedi made her acting debut in Baba Azmi’s Mee Raqsam, which was released on the Zee5 platform yesterday. Subedi plays a Muslim girl from Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district who scandalizes conservative Muslims around with her desire to learn the classical dance form Bharat Natyam.

The character of Naseeruddin Shah in the film is the face of the resistance for Subedi’s Maryam. But the girl receives full support and encouragement from her widowed father Salim, played by Danish Husain.

At an online press conference before the film's release, cinematographer-director Baba Azmi shared an incident during the shoot when Subedi’s demand stunned him.

“She became a part of the whole unit and used to have fun," Azmi recalled. "She once came to me and said, ‘I want a face-off scene with Naseer sir.’ I told her Naseer might get scared, so let it be.” Subedi was only 15 at the time.

Subedi was discovered by veteran actress and Baba Azmi's Shabana Azmi, who has produced the film. “The biggest offering of the film is little Aditi, who was discovered in the small village Mizwan [their father the late poet Kaifi Azmi's native village]," Shabana said. "Because she worked in the film, it has opened the doors to other girls in Mizwan who are studying in the Kaifi Azmi School and Kaifi Azmi Inter College. They feel even they can afford to dream now.”

Subedi, on the other hand, considers Shabana her idol. “I get inspired a lot from Shabana bua [literally, paternal aunt; used often as a term of respect]," she said. I want to be like her as an actor and also as a human being who supports others so much.”

She said her own father is exactly like her on-screen dad in Mee Raqsam. “My father always supports me," the young actress said. "He says whatever you wish to do, do it with honesty and work hard.”

Zee5 began streaming Mee Raqsam yesterday.

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