Pictured is the poster for Riaad Moosa’s awaited new film, New Material, which releases in cinemas on Friday.
Pictured is the poster for Riaad Moosa’s awaited new film, New Material, which releases in cinemas on Friday.

New Riaad Moosa film opens on big screen

By Latoya Newman Time of article published Nov 25, 2021

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LIFESTYLE - ON FRIDAY (26 November), the Riaad Moosa-starring film, New Material, is set to be released on the big screen.

This marks one of the first major local prouctions to open at cinemas since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The original film, Material, about a dutiful young Muslim man who moonlights as a stand-up comedian in Joburg nightclubs, was a box-office hit at the time of its release.

In New Material, much-loved character, Cassim Kaif (Moosa) continues to ply his trade as one of South Africa’s few Muslim comedians while balancing the demands of a marriage, a young child, and living in a house with his ageing parents.

His father Ebrahim (Vincent Ebrahim) has reluctantly accepted his son’s chosen career for now, but it remains a simmering issue.

Riaad Moosa(Comedian and Actor) very proud during the first screening of their new movie New Material at the Suncoast Cinecentre in Durban last week. Pictures: Theo Jeptha/ African News Agency(ANA)

In an interview with The Post, Moosa said when he initially started working on the first film’s script, he had not anticipated that it would go this far.

“I didn't know that I was going to do a movie. When I started writing it, I was a doctor at the time and I was just motivated to take part by Ronnie Apteker (one of the writers) who had a vision for the film. I didn't even know that I was going to be doing comedy at that time. I was on the path to be some sort of surgeon, probably an orthopaedic surgeon at that time, so I had no idea there would be a sequel.”

The first draught for Material was written at the end of 2016.

“I wrote the first draught over three months and then I gave it to the professional, who is Craig Freimond (director), and they sort of did various iterations of it and further drafts.”

LIFE AND ART

With Material and its sequel story lines being very similar to Moosa’s own life, he said it isn’t identical.

“It's definitely a dramatisation. The first Material was based on the doctor who became a comedian. While we were wrestling with the scripts, people thought ‘oh boo hoo if he doesn't get to do comedy he has to fall back on becoming a highly respected professional that all Indian mother's love’... so we sort of changed it and amalgamated it with this other interesting story.

“It’s also based on a true story about two brothers who became estranged because of the Oriental Plaza and the Group Areas Act and the apartheid fiasco. So we mix the two together and that was how the final Material came about.”

EXTENSION

Moosa said New Material is an extension of that story.

“Essentially in the first film, the father warns Cassim about the world of entertainment and comedy, and all of his warnings are sort of played out in the second film, in the sense that Cassim is drawn to the dark side. The primary theme is personal ambition versus family responsibility or personal ambition versus friendship,” he said.

Even with the success of the first film, Moosa said he would not want to anticipate how the sequel will do.

“I can never anticipate anything in this industry. In terms of doing art, you never know how people are going to take it. Sometimes you think something is artistically better, but it doesn't necessarily capture the public's imagination. You can't anticipate these things. All we tried to do is to try and create the best creative project that we can and the rest is up to things that are beyond.

“But New Material is slightly different to Material in the sense that we have brought in more physical comedic elements and at the same time it does have the heart of Material because we want to make people laugh and cry.

“I'm very self-critical. I can't even watch myself. I can't even watch the first Material. So this movie took a long time to actualise. It should have been out long ago, I have got many more grey hairs since then,” Moosa laughed, adding: “So it is a happy moment for people to finally be seeing the film and I hope they laugh and cry and they are touched.”

COLLABORATION

On working with the director, Moosa said he was grateful for the long-time collaboration.

“Craig and I have always had a very collaborative relationship and that is very kind of him because a lot of time directors are all about what they want for a film. Because obviously a lot of the story came from me, I had to give him a lot of insight into some aspects.

“Because I come from a stand-up comedy background, where I want complete control and I’m used to complete control, he has been very gracious in allowing me a lot of leeway along the way. Sometimes people have creative differences but I think on the whole it allows for a balanced expression and I think a lot more people tend to be able to relate to it if you do it in that way.”

IN THE PIPELINE

Travel overseas and developing his hybrid entertainment project are on the cards for Riaad Moosa in the coming months.

At the moment, on the stand up comedy front, Moosa said while he is not working on any news shows, there are some travel and hybrid projects in the pipeline.

“I don't have any specific shows that I want to do, but I do have an opportunity to do something in Dubai, but I'm not specifically doing my own show.

“I also want to develop my own comedy club in Cape Town where I can actually stream my regular comedy ensemble shows. During Covid-19 I was doing a virtual comedy club and playing around with that, but I hope that can develop into having a smaller audience but streaming those shows out regularly.

“There are great benefits in this, I was able to have international comedians on my bill as well and I'm trying to experiment with how this could work if I set it up so that I link in a comedian to a room of live people. Because when I was doing my virtual shows, I found that the vibe was better when people would be sitting in the same room, like a whole family and people sitting together, as opposed to having individuals behind each computer or separated all over.

“So it's all about me experimenting and seeing how the technology can merge with the old style of stand-up to see how we can create something new. I'm sure at some point it will all settle into what we normally do, but if I can also include this hybrid option and it works really nicely then that can be something positive that we would have achieved from all of this (Covid-19) chaos.”

* New Material officially releases country-wide in cinemas on November 26.

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