Dubai: A Dubai student is giving life to a character inspired by Asifa Bano, the eight-year-old victim of the sensational Kathua rape and murder case, in a new Malayalam movie Chilappol Penkutty releasing in India on Friday.
The sensational Kathua case, which rocked India in 2018, contributed to the Indian government imposing death penalty for child rapists.
Memories of Asifa were revived last month when three of the perpetrators were awarded life imprisonment and the remaining three, all of them police officers, were sentenced to five years in jail for destruction of evidence.
Samreen Ratheesh, 12, a grade seven student of The Westminster School in Dubai, will now immortalize Asifa’s plight in the movie.
It is a movie for raising parental awareness about violence against girls in India, the director Prasad Nooranad told Gulf News over phone from India.
“This is a reminder about the Kathua case, which happened in Kashmir, and how it impacted and empowers a girl in Kerala in the other end of India,” he said.
“The movie begins with the story of Fathima (the character played by Samreen). In the first half, the story revolves around her. The pain the girl goes through will linger on in the minds of the audience.”
He said the movie has a message for girls and their parents and is expected to create a social impact.
Samreen was chosen to play the role last April. “We were apprehensive if such a small girl can imbibe the seriousness of the role and enact it well. But, Samreen was really good. She is very talented and was quick in executing the instructions. She did a brilliant job in acting with the support of her parents who are also very passionate about movies,” the director said.
Samreen’s parents Ratheesh M, business development manager of NMC Dubai, and Viji Ratheesh, who recently debuted as the mother of Mollywood heart-throb Dulquer Salmaan in Oru Yamandan Premakadha said they accepted the offer for Samreen due to the social relevance of the movie.
Already active in lip-syncing video sharing apps, Samreen said she was thrilled about her acting debut in a challenging role.
“From being a happy, positive person to be immediately sad and angry and show all negative things was pretty tough,” the budding star said.
But she is happy that her character will help spread awareness about violence against women and girls. “Many cases like this (Kathua) happen in India and this movie shows a few of them. This movie is for everyone so that it spreads awareness about the issue.”
Samreen is excited about the movie releasing after almost a year’s delay due to floods in Kerala and censoring issues. She is only upset that she will miss the movie’s premiere in India on Friday. The director said the Saudi-based producer, Suneesh Samuel, was in discussions to fix the GCC release date for the movie in the coming weeks.
Though Samreen is looking forward to getting more challenging roles in movies, her current ambition is to become an entrepreneur who can build a care centre for pets. And the obvious reason—she is a big pet lover with two lovely cats at home.
An abacus champion and a regular tennis player, Samreen also wishes to continue nurturing her passion in dancing and modelling.
She has won several dance competitions and walked the ramp in many fashion shows including the India Fashion League and Dubai Fashion League (where she was the only child to walk the ramp) last year.
Samreen also bagged the first runner-up title in the Junior Model International Pageant held in India where she represented the UAE.
She also won the Best Smile, Best National Costume and Best Ball-Gown rounds in the pageant participated by children of various nationalities.