Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Concerning Material

'Material' starring Riaad Moosa and Joey Rasdien has seen much success ever since debuting over a month ago. I want to reflect on the movie, and what it means to me.

I often wonder about my writing, in terms of segmenting myself for a largely Muslim audience, and whether this specialisation is hindering my marketability? In Academia we learn that one should be a Subject Matter Expert in one field, and not try to veer unless your name is Doctor Sheldon Cooper. When I watch 'muslim comedies' like Material and Four Lions I wonder how much people of other faiths (or no faith) are taking from it. Then again, is it right to label them as muslim comedies? Or are they just comedies with muslims in them. I guess movies can work on multiple levels. Toy Story pulled it off. But are we sacrificing localisation for universality?

I love material, and I would like it to transcend geographical and psychological barriers but what if it is only popular in Australia and the UK.

A movie that you can identify with, is often indelibly etched into your consciousness. The theme of sibling rivalry is one that hits home. I have seen brothers split because of businesses, because of money and because of power. This is not exclusive to our community, but it hurts more when I see it happening (if only because we were given guidance on the importance of family ties)

I identified with the protagonists internal conflict regarding humour, and its place in Islam. I believe that humour is a powerful tool for education (My classes are testament to this) It is also a great tool for dawah, because the more we illustrate our humanness, the more we bridge the divide of the perception of the Muslim as the 'other'.

I am glad that race or crime was not brought into the picture. Too often our stories are mired with this, and it was refreshing to watch a movie that didn't feel the need to superficially address it. We need to move away from framing everything within these two walls.

It was great to see familiar faces like Faheem Khan (who I had worked with at an MSA convention 6 years ago) and Tall Ass Mo (who wants to roll out a production at our campus). My four South African Role Models are Riaad Moosa, Zain Bhikha, Hashim Amla and Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, so it was awesome to see three of them in the movie (Hashim's picture was in Cassim's room. It still counts!) It was even better watching a movie that portrayed Salaah properly. I have written about the depiction of Salaah in Hollywood movies so I won't get into it again, suffice to say that it made me smile.

Material shines a light on seemingly taboo subjects, but does so with sensitivity and responsibility. And for that, I applaud Riaad Moosa and team.


Imagine if material became really popular and the Wayans Brothers decided to spoof it. I reckon that their poster would look something like this (yes - I used MS Paint)

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