Bangladeshi student Fatima Sheikh to play the role of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai

Indian film director Amjad Khan confirmed that 16-year-old Fatima Sheikh, from Dhaka, will play the central part in the film

A Bangladeshi student with no acting experience is to play the role  of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai in a forthcoming movie about the work of the teenage activist who was shot and almost killed by the Taliban.

Indian film director Amjad Khan confirmed that 16-year-old Fatima Sheikh, from Dhaka, will play the central part in the film, for which shooting is expected to start in the middle of July. Mr Khan said that for security reasons, no photographs showing Ms Sheikh’s face or other details about her would be released until shooting was well underway.

“She is a student. She looks like Malala,” the Kolkata-based director told The Independent. “But there are security issues.”

Indian media has been buzzing with speculation about who might play the role of 15-year-old Malala since Mr Khan announced his plans to make the film late last year. He said he had been inspired by her struggle for the right of girls in Pakistan’s Swat Valley to be educated, a story that had received international attention after she was shot while on her way home from school last autumn.

The English-language film is to be called Gul Makai, the pseudonym used by Malala when she wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu service website in 2009 when the Swat valley was seized by Taliban gunmen. The militants issued strict edicts obliging people to follow Sharia law and burned down girls’ schools. They were eventually driven out by the Pakistani army but the security situation remains uncertain.

Malala, who also appeared in a subsequent documentary about her work as campaigner, was shot in the neck after her school bus was intercepted by a Taliban gunman last October. They said they had intentionally targeted her because of her work and because of her alleged links to the West.

The shooting of the 15-year-old triggered outrage across Pakistan and around the world.  After emergency treatment in Pakistan she was transferred to Britain where she has undergone reconstructive surgery and received rehabilitation. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr Khan said he had located Ms Sheikh through a friend in Bangladesh and that he had gone to Dhaka to carry out a screen-test. Her parents have insisted that her identity not be revealed until the second half of filming.

“Filming will take place in London, Pakistan, Iran and India,” said Mr Khan.

The selection of Ms Sheikh to play the role of Malala was first reported by the Times of India which used an image of the Bangladeshi student wearing a niqab, or veil, with just a narrow slit for her eyes.

This is not the first time Mr Khan has selected a controversial subject for a film. Last year he reportedly received threats after completing work on Le Gaya Saddam, which looked at the issue of divorce in Muslim cultures.

Malala, who was treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, is due to publish an account of her life later this year. It is to be called I am Malala. The book’s publication is to be accompanied by two interviews broadcast in the UK and US.

There was no immediate reaction from Malala or her family about the film

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering