Movie Review: Naseem

The way this multiplex strike affected me so badly that I was forced to watch some old movies on DVD. The film I watched turned out to be an important socio-political movie that marked a turning point in the Hindu--Muslim dynamics in India. The name of this film in Urdu "Naseem", which literally translates as "The Morning Breeze" in English is directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza. It is centered around the Babri Masjid demolition of 1992. Being a hardcore art-movie fan, I decided to give this a try.

The film charts the story of a young school going girl Naseem (Mayuri Kango) in the months leading up to the demolition of Babri Masjid in December 1992. She shares a deep and loving bond with her ailing grandfather Anwar (Kaifi Azmi) who represents the era of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in India, as he fondly recalls the times he spent in pre-independent Agra. As communal tension erupts in the city of Bombay, Naseem gets increasingly bewildered by the changing dynamics at her school and in the neighbourhood, while her grandfather watches helplessly in a city getting divided deeply over the Babri Masjid issue.

The film stands amidst great films of this genre, like Dharti Ke Laal (1946) directed by K.A. Abbas and Garam Hawa (1973) directed by M.S. Sathyu. The film marks the screen debut of actor Kay Kay Menon, Mayuri Kango and also has the distinction of being the only screen role of Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi. It won the National Award for Best Screenplay jointly written by Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Ashok Mishra.


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