Streaming now on Zee5
A movie involving communal politics is likely to draw eyeballs in India but Baba Azmi’s Mee Raqsam seems to have avoided going through the pre-release public scanner. The popular cinematographer makes his directorial debut with this dance-drama, which pays homage to his father, the late poet Kaifi Azmi. Set in his hometown of Mijwan, Azamgarh, the story of Mee Raqsam (translated: I Dance) focusses on the young Maryam (Aditi Subedi) and her passion for Bharatnatyam. The movie begins with the death of her mother, which leaves Maryam alone with her poor father Salim (Danish Hussain). She develops an interest in Bharatnatyam, a popular dance form of the Hindus, and her father encourages her to learn. Soon, she becomes an excellent dancer until some members of the Muslim community take offense to her dancing. Led by Hashim Seth (Naseeruddin Shah), they ostracize Salim, which affects his livelihood. Meanwhile, Maryam faces issues on another end as the Hindu community is not ready to accept a Muslim dancer.
Led by a strong cast
Mee Raqsam introduces us to Aditi Subedi who is exceptionally talented in her dance. Her performance is sincere and she shows promise in the art. Danish Hussain as her father is every young girl’s dream. He is kind, supportive, and emotionally available to her. And the actor is not new to such a role, as he also played a supportive father to Asif in this year’s Netflix original Yeh Ballet. While in that movie his character was meek and submissive to his domineering brother’s views, Salim is determined not to let anyone or anything get in the way of his daughter’s dreams, even if that means standing up to Naseeruddin Shah’s Hashim Seth. Naseer has a small yet significant role where he leaves a prominent mark. It is certain that an actor of his stature has not yet been discovered in this industry.
Shows communal politics without taking sides
It is common for Hindi movies whose leading characters are Muslims to fall into the good Muslim vs bad Muslim trope. Mee Raqsam tries to avoid that by simultaneously throwing light on the stereotypes that exist in society against Muslims while also showing the intolerance within. There’s no attempt to take any sides or comment on any ongoing issues. In fact, through the medium of dance, the film tries to bridge the divide between the two communities by giving us a fantastic fusion of Bharatnatyam performed to Sufi music. Even if you’re not too invested in the film, this performance will certainly blow your mind away.
WATCH OR NOT:
Mee Raqsam makes for a good watch in the present climate when the media is fostering more hate between the already divided communities. If not for its politics, the film deserves a watch for its heartwarming story and excellent performances.
Director: Baba Azmi
Writer: Baba Azmi
Cast: Aditi Subedi, Danish Hussain, Naseeruddin Shah
Streaming on: Zee5