A Bangladeshi teen has been chosen to play the on-screen role of Malala Yousufzai who became a global symbol of the fight against the Taliban, Indian newspaper The Times of India reported Thursday.
Noted Indian filmmaker Amjad Khan, who was making a film on the 14-year-old Pakistani education activist, has finally chosen Fatima Sheikh, the girl based in Dhaka.
Fatima’s identity had been kept a secret for the last 40 days ever since Khan did her screen test, according to the daily.
Using pseudonym ‘Gul Makai’, Malala wrote her diary on Taliban days in Pakistan’s Swat valley which was published by BBC’s Urdu service.
Angered by her active role in promoting girls’ education which the Taliban opposed, Taliban gunmen had sprayed bullets on Malala when she was on her way back to home in Swat valley on October 9 last year. Critically wounded, she was flown to the UK for treatment.
“There were two reasons for all this secrecy. One was that her parents were extremely reluctant to let her do this role, let alone expose her to the danger it involved and second was the work permit to shoot in India”, The Times of India quoted Amjad as saying.
It was only ten days ago that Fatima got the work permit and the film is ready to roll, he added.
The shoot of the proposed film will be held in India and Pakistan, Amjad said.
He said it took a lot of time to persuade the Bangladeshi girl’s parents to let her do the role of Malala on screen.
“Even now, the parents are insisting on not revealing the girl’s face till the second schedule of the film’s shoot is over.”
Amjad said he is also excited about getting permission to shoot the film in Islamabad and Karachi.
“It took me three months, and finally, the Pakistan government gave me the permission to shoot,” said Amjad.
“I will be shooting what the Taliban activity is all about, how they train youngsters, all this is what I will shoot — I will keep Fatima on the sets so that she gets accustomed to all of us. She is just a kid, actually, she is still studying, so I need to make her comfortable first,” said Amjad.