Recently got a chance to watch ‘Naseem’ (morning breeze), a Saeed Mirza movie, in Lok Sabha Television. As usual, without any clue of the plot and keeping faith on NFDC’s ‘old’ new wave, I started watching the subtle, dull-colored movie. Initially felt like whether should I ‘spoil’ the evening on a movie on Bombay ‘riots’. (In real, the cold-blooded massacre of Muslims by Shiv Sena and saffron thugs)…thought at last I have to witness the hapless cries of Naseem, the protagonist and should say to myself that it’s just a movie. But somehow decided to watch the movie and it turned out to be different.
The movie revolves around Naseem (Mayuri Kango), a 15-year old school going girl, her Muslim family and her loving, ill, bed-ridden grand father (Kaifi Azmi) in the troubled times of 1992, the year of Babri Masjid demolition. Kaifi Azmi’s splendid performance and his mesmerizing, deep voice kept me glued. The movie doesn’t has even a single violent act. Instead it unravels the beautiful, mischievous, adolescent life of Naseem and how the troubled times disturb her life. It captures the despair of Muslim families at those times, watching television filled with hate in air.
Naseem’s grand father shares the fond memories of his beloved wife and their life in Agra with her. Often movie travels to short flashbacks. When Naseem gets upset with one of her friend’s father dumping her family for a second marriage, she asks him why people go for second marriage and why he didn’t. He says it was not her grand mother but he was worried that she may leave him for a second marriage. Naseem laughs at the septuagenarian’s humble confession. His confessions of surrender to his wife and the wholesome influence of her in him leave you to admire the old man and his deep love as Naseem does.
But the troubled times disturb the family’s peace. Naseem’s father gets irate at watching television and desperately says, “Are Jab hum yahan jeena jaathe hain tho hum ko bahar kyun bhejna chathe ho?”(When we want to live here, why do you want to send us outside?). After Eid-feast, family and friends sit around grand father. He starts reciting a poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He forgets a line and the visibly disturbed Zafar (debut film of Kay Kay Menon), friend of Naseem’s brother recites the line with anger conveying a different meaning for otherwise a romantic verse. When grand father objects, Zafar argues that Faiz’s lines no more have the same meaning, when their men and women are getting butchered all over the country. Zafar symbolizes the agonized Muslim youth and grand father represents the diminishing ‘tolerant'(hate that word…why do minorities always need to tolerate..) muslim. Some months later, outside frenzy reaches the peak and reflections occur in home. Naseem’s brother shouts at grand father. Naseem’s father, though equally agitated asks politely, “Baba, Why did you choose to remain here during partition?”
Azmi answers in a soft voice. “You remember the tree we grew before our house in Agra…Your Mother loved it so much and me too.” Naseem’s father leaves the room without a word. she gets back to him puzzled. “Was it just for a tree Dada?” He acknowledges with a simple nod.
After some days, grand father dies silently in his bed at the day of Babri Masjid demolition. When his body passes home, Zafar stands nearby with his friends discussing the demolition with fury. He looks at the deceased and says in a cold voice. “Its right time you got end today.” Naseem sits in her grand father’s bed taking the voidness in. Her memory drags back. She remembers watching the sky with him once. She asks him, “Dada, why the sky is blue?” He replies. “I thought of painting it in white but mistakenly I put the blue color in the bucket and that’s why.” She laughs and says, “Dada, you are joking.” He replies with a smile. “But you smiled. That’s what is important. Your smile.” Naseem smiles back inhaling the memory and the movie gets end.
It reminded me the brave smile of Bilkis Bano. I understand the analogy doesn’t suits well. Naseem has a past to cherish and smile while bilkis bano cannot get anything to smile from her horrendous past. she smiles only at the present and that smile has a never ending sorrow deep in it. But the message is clear. We need to smile…to live, to fight, to fight like Bano…to fight against all the demons who try to snatch our smile. Our smile is our weapon that spits on the face of Asma Jehangir likes who was recently so pleased with her host, Narendra Modi. Certainly, on hosts too.
- Read Bhupinder’s gripping write-up on Kaifi Azmi.
- A beautiful scene from the movie follows. I found the subtle satire on Jingoism more appealing in it.