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Zee5 Film Mee Raqsam Asks The Critical Question – Why Do We Use Religion To Cage Art?

Posted: August 24, 2020

Produced by Shabana Azmi, the Zee5 film Mee Raqsam asks – how can an art form become the possession of any particular religion?

Original Hindi post translated by Nishtha Pandey.

The film Mee Raqsam released on Zee5 last Friday, is a very different kind of film that tries to throw light on many subjects simultaneously.

The socio-political atmosphere in which we live today controls our lives. From what we eat to what we wear, all activities of most of our people are dominated by the our religion. 

No Art is bound by Religion

In these times, Mee Raqsam proves that anyone in a democratic country has the right to live life on their own terms.

Along with this, the film also opens the layer of those beliefs of the society where no art is imprisoned in a religious realm. Art mixes with the civilization and culture of that country and becomes a part of the country. Mee Raqasam makes us realize that art is something that resonates with people irrespective of culture and religion. 

Bharatnatyam as a dance form is known worldwide as part of Hindustani Tehzeeb. Some people define it as a Hindu dance form. A type of dance that was used by devadasis to please Hindu Gods. 

In such a situation, if a Muslim girl goes to a dance school or wants to learn Bharatnatyam then for some so-called ‘guardians of culture’ she is non-religious and unfaithful towards her religion. Not only dance but fulfilling your dream in the world of music also becomes an act of going against one’s religion.

What is Mee Raqsam about?

Mee Raqsam, produced by Shabana Azmi, has been directed by her brother Baba Azmi. It is an attempt to question the mindset which associates art with religion. In this movie, Naseeruddin Shah plays the role of a leader of the Muslim community, Danish Hussain plays the role of a caring father and Aditi Subaidi plays his daughter.

The movie sheds light on the fact that it is not just Muslim society but that Hindu society too is not very liberal towards art.

In the movie, we see Naseeruddin Shah’s character who is a prominent Muslim leader calls Marraim’s father un-religious and ‘kafir’ for letting his daughter learn Bharatnatyam. We also see Mr Jai Prakash who is a prominent Hindu leader going against the fact that his own daughter likes Sufi sangeet despite being Hindu.

This idea of relegating art to religious diktats cages the liberty of artists to experiment and prosper in one’s passion.

Deep rooted patriarchal beliefs 

The film Mee Raqsam also talks about the family not supporting their loved ones just because of the fear of society and deep-rooted patriarchy.

For example, in the film, when Marraim’s fufi gets to know that she is taking Bharatanatyam classes, she says ‘nach-gana seekh ke kya ise mujra karna hai?’ (Does she want to learn dance for being a courtesan?)

Such taunts and restrictions break the spirit of many young kids who just want to follow their passion irrespective of religious and cultural norms.

The way in which the story is told and shown in the film Mee Raqsam, people will slowly get a grip on it. This movie stays with you the rebellion against intolerance is ultimately lightweight, but the relationship between Salim and Maryam runs deep and lingers long to the audience.

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