This film is a tribute to my late father Kaifi saab: Shabana

Actress Shabana Azmi turns presenter for her brother Baba Azmi’s film, ‘Mee Raqsam’. Baba Azmi makes a directorial debut with the film which digitally releases on the OTT platform, ZEE5. Both, Shabana and Baba, join hands to pay homage to their father, the late distinguished Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi. “There can be no greater tribute paid by a son to his father,” says the actress.

The film has been shot in Mijwan, a village in Uttar Pradesh. Shabana has been working in Mijwan for the empowerment of girl child since 2002. Taking her work a step ahead putting the village, where their father Kaifi saab was born, on the global map, Shabana is elated at turning presenter for "Mee Raqsam."

Speaking about the film and her work Shabana says, “I have devoted 20 long years in bringing about girl empowerment, education for girls in this small village. And for the film too we chose a girl from Mijwan. She is about 15/16 years old, born and brought up in the village. My father once told us (me and my brother) to shoot a film in Mijwan. It was impossible to fulfill his wish back then as the village was not developed at all. So we decided to shoot a filmy there and launched the film on my father’s birthday in Mijwan. This film is a tribute to my late father Kaifi saab.”

Was it a conscious decision to choose a girl to play the protagonist from Mijwan? “We did auditioned many girls. But, we were missing that smell of the Mijwan soil. We then decided to audition girls from the village itself. Aditi Subedi, who plays the protagonist, is an untrained Bhartnatyam dancer. She was facing the camera for the first time. But she rehearsed almost for nine hours on a daily basis. She looks so natural on screen that after watching the film no one will believe that she is not a trained dancer. It’s not only a proud moment, but is also a happy moment for us that a Mijwan girl is making a debut in our film. She will be considered as a role model for all the other girls belonging to Mijwan, thus opening new vistas for working on the celluloid too.

While praising her brother cinematographer, Baba for taking the directorial plunge, she gives away a secret. “I have worked with Baba in many films. His framing is amazing. If he feels the perfection is missing from the frame he will readily sacrifice it, especially when he feels he is unable to capture the moment to perfection. It’s then I felt that if he turns to direction he will give his best. We are happy, but a little scared as well.’

The film premieres on August 21. Sharing her happiness she says, “We are happy that the film is releasing on Zee5, which will premiere in almost 90 Countries. This will enable out film to reach many people all over the globe. The dialogues, screenplay of our film brings forth a good narrative about the bond between a father and daughter and how the father goes against all odds to support his daughter.

As a daughter Shabana feels proud and happy to fulfil her father’s dream of making Mijwan into a model village. “We are happy Mijwan stands as a model for adjacent villages. The major changes that education has brought about in girls is about marriage. Earlier they would married at an early age, are now adamant of tying the knot only after turning 18. The girls belonging to this village want to prove their ability and work on their talent and do something for the society, their parents and for themselves. It feels great to hear from girls who travelled to Mumbai by plane, went back home and revealed their wish of becoming a pilot," she concludes.

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