Mee Raqsam, directed by Baba Azmi is almost like a less glossy version Zaira Wasim starrer Secret Superstar. In Mee Raqsam, we are seeing the struggle of a father and daughter to live in a narrow-minded society. The movie started off giving me a feeling that it is one more template that would end up as a “socially relevant” drama. But there was something about the optimistic twist in the tale that gave me a smile at the end.
The movie is set in this village named Mijwan in UP. Mariam, a Muslim girl who was fond of Bharatnatyam is our central protagonist. Seeing her interest in that art form, her father Salim gives her permission to join the school. But the religious people of her own community were against this decision of Salim. The repercussions this family had to face due to their resistance against this mindset are what we get to see in the movie Mee Raqsam.
If you look at the storyline of the movie, there isn’t much novelty to claim. Movies like these are familiar to us. But I think somewhere in that second half of the movie, the performances sort of had that warmth which would make us empathize with Salim and Mariam. The writing was balancing the unreal feel-good template and the realistic discriminations effectively. The decision of Mariam to participate in the dance contest when someone threw a stone at her house was a little bit of surprise for me and it was a pleasing detour from the pattern I was expecting the movie to follow.
Danish Husain as Salim and Aditi Subedi as Mariam has heartwarming chemistry as the father-daughter duo. The character of Salim on paper is that too good to be true level, optimistic father. But Danish keeps him simple and the subtlety in the performance makes his portrayal of a determined Salim very moving. Aditi Subedi delivers a very earnest performance as Mariam. The cheerfulness, the conflicted space, and the rise of Mariam was portrayed neatly by her. Naseeruddin Shah has done a cameo here as a very relevant character in the movie. Rakesh Chaturvedi Om’s character of a right-wing spokesperson was written in a loud way. Zeba Rizvi as the conservative aunt was also convincing.
As I said, the template of this movie is in a very familiar space. But the writers Husain Mir and Safdar Mir have treated it in a more optimistic way rather than making it a disturbing tragic tale. If you look at what happens at the end of the film, there is this emphasis on young people breaking the orthodox ideologies built by conservative old minds. The movie is not trying to say how a particular religion ruined someone’s ambition to be something. It was in a way exposing how the interpretations have created boundaries. The movie somewhat convincingly places Salim and Mariam in the midst of religious fundamentalism and right-wing nationalism. The characterizations of people who are around the father-daughter duo aren’t that clearly etched out or I should say the stand of those characters was presented in a louder way.
If you approach Mee Raqsam in terms of the cinematic craft, there isn’t much here for you to read from the visual. But because of its statements and the endearing central characters, you won’t sense any sort of regret in watching this movie. Like I said, by the time the movie ended I had a smile on my face.
Because of its statements and the endearing central characters, you won’t sense any sort of regret in watching this movie.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended