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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there