If dance and dancing are forbidden by religion, then consider making a film about a young girl’s desire to dance the Bharatnatyam a dangerous pursuit, given today’s absurdly touchy times.
That magician behind the camera Baba Azmi dares to address the forbidden in his directorial debut Mee Raqsam, a film that ZEE5 can be proud of. It is bold and beautiful, frank and fascinating, strong and fragile, firm in its convictions and flexible in its attitude to religion and morality.
It casts the mighty Naseeruddin Shah as a frowning cleric who clucks his tongue at a girl from their community dancing the Bharatnatyam. For God’s sake, shouldn’t she be at home in a hijab studying the religious scriptures?
I could catch the twinkle in the director’s eye as he negotiates the shards on the dancefloor with his determined dancing diva and her extremely supportive father played the brilliant Danish Hussain.
Newcomer Aditi Subedi in the central role is a delicate flower nurtured by the director’s sensitive vision into a performance of power and glory. Mee Raqsam gathers together all the tensions that we see around us between the Hindu and Muslim community and converts it into something strong yet refined.
I can’t wait to see what Baba Azmi has done with Naseeruddin Shah, Baba’s sister the formidable Shabana Azmi’s favourite co-star. She is not in the trailer. But I could feel her aesthetics and her political convictions in every frame. The trailer of Mee Raqsam is a reiteration of certain rudimentary values of secular India which have lately drowned in the din of jingoism and political jugglery.
Art is most effective when it is innocent of an agenda. The trailer of Mee Raqsam proves it.