Art and culture in India is what sets our country apart from the rest, doesn’t it? The rich and diverse forms of music and dance in our country is appreciated and hailed all over the world. So much so, that foreigners come down to learn dance and music from us. It sure is art beyond boundaries, but is that true for everyone in our own country? Mee Raqsam is a tale that explores that and more.
Baba Azmi‘s debut directorial, Mee Raqsam means ‘I Dance‘. It is a simple story about a Muslim father and his daughter, and their struggle to live life on their own terms amidst a society that is highly judgemental. Mariam (Aditi Subedi), is a young, school-going girl who has just lost her mother. She gets her love for the largely Hindu dance form, Bharatnatyam, from her. In her mother’s memory, she wishes to learn it and is supported by her simple, tailor father, Salim (Danish Hussain). Maryam’s passion translates into her craft and she picks up the art form almost immediately, much to the delight of her dance teacher and her father. But hell breaks loose when the elder of the village and the high-brow flag-bearers of culture on both sides find out that she is learning to dance.
The film, through this framework, attempts to address a lot of issues — like Mariam‘s loving yet regressive aunt Zehra and grandmother (Shraddha Kaul, Farrukh Jafar) and the revered elder of the village, Hashim Seth (Naseeruddin Shah), claim that learning a dance form is something that will mar the reputation of the family and community as it is considered lowly. On the other side of the coin is the cultural head and trustee of the Bharatnatyam dance school, Jai Prakash (Rakesh Chaturvedi Om), who constantly points out that he is giving Mariam, who is a “Mohmaddan girl” girl, a chance to dance. Salim’s determination to not bow down in submission creates a lot of tension from all these quarters, which makes for most part of the story.
The sweet and raw interactions between the father and daughter and their terrific performances will surely warm your heart and make you wish all fathers are like Salim. The film’s pace falls a little flat in parts, but with it’s heart being in the right place, it’s a lovely tale of a father teaching his daughter to fight against all odds for her own happiness.