The Babri Masjid demotion, carried out in broad daylight by a throng of fanatics and lumpens with tacit approval of the establishment, unfolded a dark chapter in India’s contemporary political history in the way muscular majoritarian forces brazenly trampled upon the country’s secular fabric. Saeed Akhtar Mirza, the gentle giant of parallel Indian cinema, deftly portrayed the simmering political tension leading up to this disgraceful event and the ensuing disillusionment at this brazen betrayal of trust, and in turn interpretated what this entails collectively and personally, in his beautifully poetic, meditative and poignant film Naseem. At its most elemental, it’s the tale of a delicate, tender and heart-rending friendship between Naseem (Mayuri Kango), an innocent and wide-eyed schoolgirl belonging to a middle-class Muslim family in Bombay (Mumbai), and her ailing, gentle-natured and cultured grandfather (played by the legendary Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi). She loves literature, hanging out with her friends, spreading empathy and kindness, and listening to the humorous anecdotes that he loves recounting from his days as a young man living in Agra – surrounded by his loving wife and mischevious friends – in pre-Independent India. Naseem’s naïvete and cocooned world, and her grandfather’s old-world idealism and charming mamories, formed a striking contrast to the crumbling world around them. The parallel narrative formed a delightful dichotomy of what was dreamed and how it turned out – as made bleakly evident by the disconcerting present. The stellar ensemble cast comprised of Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Naseem’s perplexed father, Salim Shah as her elder brother finding it tough to absorb the murky developments, Surekha Sikri as her deadpan mother, and Kay Kay Menon as a deeply radicalized guy, among a host of others.
Director: Saeed Akhtar Mirza
Genre: Drama/Family Drama/Political Drama