One of my favorite scenes from the film, where the son asks his aged father that why he never thought of going to Pakistan at the time of partition.. The father replies that in his old house in Agra, they had a tree in their backyard which was like a child to his wife.. the mother of the son who asked..
The young granddaughter being curious asks his grand father, “bass ek per ke liye?“ (only for a tree?).. The grandfather says, “haa. baas ek per ke liye.” (yes, for that one tree).
Saeed Akhtar Mirza‘s Naseem tells the story of a young, innocent and mischievous 15 years old little girl Naseem (which means the morning breeze), belongs to a middle class Muslim family in Bombay at the time of communal distress between the Hindu and the Muslims… The film unfolds like the entries in a diary which starts a few months prior to the infamous Babri Masjid demolition on December, 1992. As the months go by, we get to know more about Naseem and her family, especially her grandfather with whom she shares an unadulterated bonding. Naseem lives with her parents, her older brother and her Grandfather. She’s a simple and a beautiful girl. Except a few glimpses on the news, she’s mostly unaware of the tension rising up outside her little happy world.. Apart from school, and her exams.. she spends most of her time listening to the endless stories of her grandfather about his younger days and pre-independent India…. Ironically, the stories portray a completely different picture of the country known to Naseem.. There was of course the British rule, but there was a communal harmony in between the two religions unlike the present scenario.As the film goes on, Saeed Akhtar Mirza allows us to witness the changes the family goes through as well as the little world of Naseem..
There was this sequence in the film where the grandfather tells the beautiful story of his visit to TajMahal for the first time with his newly wedded wife, to Naseem and the scene cuts to a scene of Ram Yatra where a group of people marches towards somewhere, holding and waving the saffron flag.. Giving a traumatic vibe of pernicious masculinity which is completely opposite to the warm and soothing tone of the film..
The subtle performances of the cast is the soul of the film… Being a debutante, Mayuri Kango gives a heartwarming performance as Naseem.. Her charm and innocence comfort the audience and even in a time like that, make us believe that through love, care and compassion, every wound can be healed.. Urdu Poet Kaifi Azmi plays Naseem’s grandfather.. and the relationship he shares with the little girl is so beautiful to witness… Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Surekha Sikri as the parents leave a mark… Kay Kay Menon is completely a surprise package in this.. Playing the role of Naseem’s brother’s friend, Menon’s character is a reflection to what’s actually happening in the country and he leaves an impact in the small part he plays in here..
Saeed Akhtar Mirza‘s direction is unique ( it’s being my first ever film of his) and I loved how he used the grandfather’s character as a metaphor to the communal harmony that India used to share long before these riots and regressive mentalities… The screenplay is subtle (repetitiveness in parts) and somehow manages to tell the story without being too direct or showing something that could get the film in to some kind of trouble.
You may also like : GURU DUTT’S ‘THIRSTY’ POEM ON CELLULOID: PYAASA (1957)
In conclusion, Looking at the country today, Naseem seems to be a very important and relevant film .. Because history in a way is repeating and Naseem could help us to remember the horror we faced in the name of religion, years ago..