Material (2012): Movie Review

May 11, 2020

I came across this movie when I was scrolling through Netflix, trying to find something to watch with dinner.

Material is a South African film (my first I think) that revolves around Cassim, a young Muslim working in his father’s fabric shop in Johannesburg. Cassim is also a stand-up comedian (secretly, of course). He knows his Indian father will disapprove of this passion so he hides it from the family and things get interesting when his secret gets out!

It’s easy to determine why I enjoyed this movie so much – it was relatable. It hit more close to home than most things I’ve seen lately. The subtle forms of cultural representation were so refreshing, something I personally haven’t seen much in English language movies.

It was captivating to watch men who look like our fathers and women who look like our mothers play the kinds of characters we are all too familiar with. The family dynamics, the speech, the mannerism – it was all so on point!

You could tell they payed attention to details when representing the Indian-Muslim community. One thing I loved was the different clothing styles we got to see. I always notice in movies that Muslim women are represented wearing a hijab, but this isn’t necessarily realistic. In Material, we got to see women wearing headscarves, but also women with their hair out.

For instance, we see Cassim’s teenage sister who doesn’t wear hijab, still wearing pants under her school skirt to cover her legs. As a desi muslim, I find that so relatable! We are always adjusting our clothing and let’s be honest, growing up we didn’t do it in the most tasteful way. And that’s exactly what they showed. They didn’t try to make her look more fashionable, they just showed it how it is.

The acting was commendable too. Riaad Moosa delivered the comedic scenes perfectly and his character had a certain softness to it which was beautiful. I specially loved how Vincent Abrahman portrayed the father. There were some intense scenes and he molded himself into the role of this stubborn desi man so well. 

I recommend this to anyone looking to watch something a little different!


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