Naseeruddin Shah in Mee Raqsam.
Naseeruddin Shah in Mee Raqsam.

‘I don’t think only certain community’s people are all negative’: Baba Azmi on villains of Mee Raqsam

Cinematographer-turned-filmmaker Baba Azmi has made his directorial debut with Mee Raqsam. In this interview, he talks about his film, his father and Mijwan.
By Soumya Srivastava | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 25, 2020 07:09 AM IST

Baba Azmi has made his directorial debut at an age when most filmmakers contemplate hanging their boots. He says being a cinematographer kept him from making a film of his own. But with Mee Raqsam, Baba has finally realised his dream.

Mee Raqsam releases on the centenary birth anniversary of his father, legendary poet and lyricist Kaifi Azmi. It’s produced by his sister Shabana Azmi and the siblings call it their tribute to their father.

But considering current trends, wouldn’t a biopic have been a more organic idea to honour their father’s memories? Baba says Mee Raqsam, with its story about a brave, progressive father who fights social bigotry for his daughter’s happiness, captures the actual essence of Kaifi Azmi.

The Azmi family in 1972.
The Azmi family in 1972.

“I never wanted to make a biopic or anything like that. It’s a script, an extension of his personality. This was the kind of mindset in which we were born and brought up. It is not based on his life or anything,” he said.

It was Kaifi’s dream to make a film based on and shot in his beloved, Mijwan, where he was born and spent a big part of his childhood. The film could not be made while Kaifi was alive but Baba decided to fulfil on his promise to him regardless.

But Mijwan is not the most easily accessible areas for a film shoot. A small town in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, it made Baba nervous about the logistics. “Before starting, I was quite intimidated by the fact. It’s not where I wanted to shoot, in Mizwan, which is such a small village. So the infrastructure that is required for a film’s shoot with about 70 people - where will they stay, boarding, lodging and stuff - Mijwan doesn’t have any of these facilities as such. But when I went there, everything fell in place. For me, it was like my father’s blessings were there with me. NO one fell ill, even for a day. And it was very cold! It gets very cold in January-February,” he said.

Aditi Subedi and Bada Azmi in Mijwan.
Aditi Subedi and Bada Azmi in Mijwan.

With an almost fairytale-like quality, Mee Raqsam can seem ‘salt and peppered’ with white and black characters throughout. Naseeruddin Shah plays a bigoted community leader who would not let Danish Husain’s kind Muslim father go against community rules. Rakesh Chaturvedi Om plays a Hindu patron of a dance school, who sees the Muslim man’s dancing daughter as nothing but good PR. The two try all tricks, sometimes so evil they can qualify as the next Disney villain, to trouble the father and his daughter.

Also read: Ganesh Chaturthi 2020: Manushi Chillar brings Ganpati home, says ‘I’m from Haryana but Mumbai is my home too’

However, Baba says he doesn’t keep this black and white view of the world. “I don’t have a pattern kind of opinion about people. Everybody has got their little shades of grey. We all have our weaknesses and all. So for Naseer also, those are his beliefs. There might be some good qualities to him. Like in the beginning of the film, when he says ‘If you need anything just come to me’. That means he is also a character who helps around and all of that but you have to move according to his terms,” he said.

But is there any hope of redemption for these villains? “See there is no scene as such but yeah, I do feel so. If there was a scene on something like that, I would have preferred that after she gets the award, she also gets the respect from her aunt or somebody. Because the aunt also actually loves Maryam a lot,” he said.

 

“Not of a character like Naseer but someone like the khala might go slightly soft because her love for Maryam is equally strong and she believes she is telling Maryam to start taking sewing classes for her own good,” he added.

Mee Raqsam’s choice of villains, however, is quite secular. If Naseer’s Muslim leader wanted to cage the father in intangible, conservative rules; Rakesh’s Hindu patron was an opportunist, masking his bigotry as considerate advice. “You see these kind of people everywhere, in all communities. At least I don’t say that as I don’t believe that only a certain community has grey and black areas. I don’t think only certain community’s people are all negative,” Baba said.

“With the film, what one is trying to celebrate is the composite culture of our country. Because that is the atmosphere that both Shabana and I have been born and brought up in. These are our beliefs so I cannot say that ye community ke log sab bure hote hain,” he added.

Mee Raqsam is available to watch on Zee5.

Follow @htshowbiz for more

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
The White Tiger movie review: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Rajkummar Rao in a still from the new Ramin Bahrani film.
The White Tiger movie review: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Rajkummar Rao in a still from the new Ramin Bahrani film.

Adarsh Gourav, The Disciple score nominations at Independent Spirit Awards

UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 09:38 PM IST
  • Director Chaitanya Tamhane's The Disciple, which opened to critical acclaim at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, has been nominated in the Best International Film category at the 36th annual Independent Spirit Awards. Adarsh Gourav has been nominated for Best Male Lead, for The White Tiger.
Close
Amitabh Bachchan shows off his new mask.
Amitabh Bachchan shows off his new mask.

Amitabh's grandkids, Navya and Agastya, can't get enough of his high-tech mask

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:56 PM IST
  • Amitabh Bachchan showed off his new Covid-19 mask on social media, and his grandchildren -- Navya and Agastya Nanda -- couldn't get enough of it.
Close
Boney Kapoor during the launch of a book on late actress Sridevi.(IANS)
Boney Kapoor during the launch of a book on late actress Sridevi.(IANS)

Boney Kapoor 'upset' about RRR-Maidaan clash, says Ajay Devgn was blindsided

UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:08 PM IST
  • Producer Boney Kapoor and his Maidaan director, Amit Sharma, are miffed about RRR potentially clashing with their film at the box office.
Close
Hrithik Roshan was married to Zayed's sister, Sussanne Khan.
Hrithik Roshan was married to Zayed's sister, Sussanne Khan.

Hrithik goes on hike with Zayed Khan, shares rare picture with ex-brother-in-law

UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 07:31 PM IST
  • Hrithik Roshan has shared a rare picture with ex-brother-in-law Zayed Khan, who accompanied him on a hike. See the picture here.
Close
Actor Luv Sinha has been a part of the films Sadiyaan and Paltan.
Actor Luv Sinha has been a part of the films Sadiyaan and Paltan.

Luv Sinha: Wouldn’t call my film journey easy, never asked my father to call anyone

By Rishabh Suri
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 07:06 PM IST
Son of actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha and brother of Sonakshi Sinha, actor Luv Sinha says his journey has been his own, and he didn’t use his connections to further his career.
Close
Actor Amyra Dastur was recently seen in the web show Tandav.
Actor Amyra Dastur was recently seen in the web show Tandav.

Amyra Dastur: I have been struggling for so long, 2021 is going to be my year

By Juhi Chakraborty
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 07:05 PM IST
Actor Amyra Dastur talks about her struggle so far finally paying off, and being busy with a slate of projects in this phase of her career.
Close
Abhishek Bachchan’s The Big Bull will release on OTT this year, while Salman Khan’s Radhe will have a theatrical release.
Abhishek Bachchan’s The Big Bull will release on OTT this year, while Salman Khan’s Radhe will have a theatrical release.

Attaining a fine balance: How OTTs and theatres will cope with coexistence in 2021

By Juhi Chakraborty
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:51 PM IST
As theatres start opening up in the country, will the convenience of OTTs, which is so fitting in with our culture today, be replaced? We talk to actors and filmmakers to understand if there is a middle ground.
Close
Varun Dhawan tied the knot with Natasha Dalal on Sunday.
Varun Dhawan tied the knot with Natasha Dalal on Sunday.

Varun Dhawan 'transforms into debonair prince' in new pre-wedding video

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:50 PM IST
  • Designer Manish Malhotra has shared a behind-the-scenes video of Varun Dhawan getting fitted for his wedding with Natasha Dalal. Watch the video here.
Close
Gauri Khan poses in Paris.
Gauri Khan poses in Paris.

Gauri is feeling 'nostalgia for Paris' in stunning throwback, Malaika is in awe

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:34 PM IST
  • Shah Rukh Khan's wife, Gauri Khan, has shared a throwback photo from Paris, leaving Maheep Kapoor and Malaika Arora in awe.
Close
Priyanka Chopra briefly studied in the US.
Priyanka Chopra briefly studied in the US.

Priyanka says facing racist bullying in US high school affected her 'adversely'

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:30 PM IST
Priyanka Chopra, who was picked on by other children at an American high school for her ethnicity, said that the bullying shook her confidence.
Close
Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal's roka ceremony reportedly took place in February last year.
Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal's roka ceremony reportedly took place in February last year.

Photos from Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal’s secret roka ceremony surface online

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:24 PM IST
Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal are seen glowing with happiness in pictures from their hush-hush roka ceremony last year. See them here.
Close
Kangana Ranaut has vocally opposed the farmers' protests.
Kangana Ranaut has vocally opposed the farmers' protests.

Kangana calls for those who supported 'so-called' farmers' protest to be jailed

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 04:56 PM IST
  • Actor Kangana Ranaut, in an incendiary video, has called for everybody who supported the 'so-called' farmers' protests to be jailed.
Close
Ranvir Shorey lambasted the protesting farmers after their tractor rally in Delhi turned violent.
Ranvir Shorey lambasted the protesting farmers after their tractor rally in Delhi turned violent.

Ranvir Shorey criticises violence at farmers’ tractor rally, calls it a 'shame'

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 04:35 PM IST
Ranvir Shorey criticised protesting farmers after their tractor rally on Republic Day turned violent. He slammed them for ‘rioting and vandalising’ Delhi.
Close
Diljit Dosanjh and Kangana Ranaut’s feud began last year.
Diljit Dosanjh and Kangana Ranaut’s feud began last year.

Kangana launches fresh attack against Diljit, Priyanka on Republic Day

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:46 PM IST
  • "The whole world is laughing at us today," Kangana Ranaut wrote in a new tweet, targeting Diljit Dosanjh and Priyanka Chopra.
Close
Salman Khan in his look for Antim: The Final Truth.
Salman Khan in his look for Antim: The Final Truth.

Salman Khan calls for unity in Republic Day message: 'Mil jhul ke raho'

UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 03:42 PM IST
  • Actor Salman Khan, in his Republic Day message for fans, called for unity. Read what he has to say here.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP