Exclusive: ‘I Have Fulfilled A Promise That I Made To My Late Father Kaifi Azmi’ Says Mee Raqsam Director Baba Azmi
Baba Azmi tells us about how the idea of Mee Raqsam starring Danish Husain and Naseeruddin Shah came to his mind. Read on to know more.
ZEE5 Original film Mee Raqsam is all set to floor us with its extraordinary story. Baba Azmi’s directorial debut starring Danish Husain, Naseeruddin Shah, and Aditi Subedi, hold a very special place in the hearts of the brother-sister duo, Shabana Azmi, and Baba Azmi. The entire film has been shot in a small town of Mijwan, Uttar Pradesh. The location is also special for both Shabana and Baba as it is the town where their father, the famous poet Kaifi Azmi grew up in. The ZEE5 film is an adaptation of the special bond shared by a father and a daughter. It is loosely based on Shabana’s bond with her father Kaifi Azmi. In an exclusive interview with ZEE5, the film’s director Baba Azmi revealed the problems faced while shooting the film and why it is the most special film of his four-decade-long career.
1. Mee Raqsam is your directorial debut – what is it like being the person behind the lens vs being the one directing the scenes?
Baba Azmi: I have worked for 40 years as a cinematographer! I have worked with directors and actors in blockbuster films. So when I thought of making a film, I wanted to make a blockbuster with big actors. But my heart was in this story. This is the film that I wanted to make with newcomers and fresh faces. The story behind this film is that it was a promise I made to my father. When we were sitting in the village of Mijwan, years ago, he had asked me if it would ever be possible to make a film in the village. And today, I have fulfilled that promise!
2. Mee Raqsam is a strong story with a concept that is a need of the hour – since when did you your sister, Shabana Azmi, have this concept in mind?
Baba Azmi: It is actually my concept. I have had this story in my mind since 2012. It took eight years to bring it to the screen. I was working on this film on and off as I had some professional commitments as a cinematographer too. But I am happy the way it has turned out and that it is finally releasing on a platform like ZEE5.
3. You have shot the film in a location that is near to your heart. what was the experience like?
Baba Azmi: The film has been shot in the house of the lead actress -Aditi Subedi. Mijwan has been extremely close to our hearts. Shabana has an NGO that supports the women of Mijwan. She also hosts an annual fashion show for them. So on one of these fashion shows, a few years ago, a little girl had proclaimed that she wants to be an actress just like Shabana Bua. And today, Aditi Subedi is starring in the lead role of Mee Raqsam. I don’t have any qualms about the shoot location. I was worried about the accommodation and food but everything got resolved and turned out perfect. I like to think of these quick solutions to every problem as a blessing from my late father Kaifi Azmi.
4. Danish sir had a long appreciation speech for you and credited you for his outstanding performance. What do you have to say about it?
Baba Azmi: Finding Danish was a stroke of luck. I knew him socially and told him at a party that you should star in this film of mine. He accepted the offer even before he read the script. I sent him the script and he read it on the plan when he was going to Australia and as soon as he landed he called me with an affirmation and appreciation for the story. That said, Danish is a very good actor and I only explained the scene to him once while shooting and he performed to perfection.
5. What was it like working with Naseer sir?
Baba Azmi: Naseer is a very dear friend of mine. While shooting for the film in almost five degrees centigrade, we were all worried for Naseer as he was already suffering from a backache. He had almost ruled out from the film but I realised that no one could replace him and miraculously, he decided to come and shoot. He was at Mijwan by 4:30 am on the first day and asked me if I was ready to begin. I could only marvel at his will and passion for acting.
6. Mee Raqsam is a unique concept. What are the next concepts that you would like to try and who are the actors you wish to direct?
Baba Azmi: Yes, Mee Raqsam is one of the family dramas that would bring tears of joy to the audience. It is a film filled with emotions and raw feelings that would definitely hit the chords of the audience’s hearts. As for the concepts that I wish to try, I want to bring out the story of the oppressed. I don’t want bling or glamour but the real stories that everyone can relate with. And for all my projects I would only wish to bring new talent to the screen.
We wish Baba Azmi and his entire team good luck and lots of success for Mee Raqsam!
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