Mooz-lum Movie Review

Mooz-lum Movie Review

Mooz-lum Movie Review - Mooz-lum Story, Movie Review, Cast And RatingThe twin tower attacks that shook the entire world on 11 th September 2001 changed the course of several Muslims living in America. The nature of the event was so shocking that nearly every Muslim who was in the country at that time was turned into an outcast of sorts. And in a country where the religion of Islam was already considered as foreign, things began to take a nasty turn for those who either followed it truly or wanted to practise it!

However, a surprising revelation points out that things were not any different before the twin tower attacks, as shown by director Qasim ‘Q’ Bashir in ‘Mooz-lum’, a tale that shows the plight of black Muslims who live in a foreign country (America in this case) with completely different cultural and social values.

Set in the pre- 9/11 era, the film explores the tolerant relationship between a father and son, both of whom are Muslims, but have their own ideas and visions of the religion. Tarik (Evan Ross) is a Muslim at heart but chooses to hide the same amidst his American friends in college who treat him like an outsider if he even so much wears his kufi.

Tariq’s father Hassan (Roger Guenveur Smith) wants to impose all of his religious values on his son, a move that is hated by the latter. And as the starting sequences of the movie show Tariq throwing away his kufi from the window of his classroom, you begin to realise as to just how much he has started to hate his father’s domineering ways, and ultimately Islam. Classic case of hating everything that is associated with the person you hate.

The director manages to show the reason behind Tariq’s actions through a series of well executed flashbacks. Accordingly, filled with his own values and morals Islam, Tariq is subjected to several taunts by his father during his childhood.

Tariq’s father wants him to attend a Muslim school so that he can memorize the Holy Quran and become a Hafiz, which according to him, is the only identification of a true Muslim. His unilateral choice is hated by both Tariq (who hides his kufi in public places and prefers to be called ‘T’ by his friends at school) and his mother Safiyah (Nia Long) who can’t tolerate the thought of sending her son to boarding school.

Mooz-lum Movie Review - Mooz-lum Story, Movie Review, Cast And Rating

Hassan’s religious doctrine results in constant fights between him and Safiyah, the culmination of which leads to a bitter divorce between the two. However, having freed herself from Hassan’s dominant attitude, Safiyah refuses to take Tariq with her. The reason for her decision? She feels Tariq would be able to become a man only with the presence of another man in his life.

At this juncture, the film fast forwards to the present day again where Tariq is seen attending a college in Michigan. One of the most popular professors in the entire college and his favorite mentor is Professor Jamal (Dorian Missick), an African American Muslim who surprisingly, teaches a course on world religions.

Professor Jamal’s useful insights about Islam and more tolerant ways to the follow the religion while remaining faithful are very useful for Tariq who comes to understand a whole new concept of religious acceptance and tolerance.

The professor’s remarks on the religion don’t coincide with those of Tariq’s fathers’; in addition to outwitting Dean Francis (Danny Glover), another fellow student who makes derogatory remarks about Islam and people who follow the religion (he prefers to call the Moozlum instead of Muslim, and rivals anything and everything a religious zealot says or does).

All these sequences take up nearly three quarters of the film after which the director decides to infuse some tension in the plot by showcasing the twin tower attacks. Post the attacks, Muslims living the country find themselves being targetted by a significantly large ‘hate group’.

Tariq and his friends are not spared either. Tariq’s friend Hamza (Kunal Sharma), a religious Arab American roommate is killed in an accident (which is actually a crime commited by the hate group) while Tariq’s sister Taqua (Kimberley Drummond) disappears.

Bashir’s ‘Mooz-lum’ is what you can call an insightful project. Revealing more than just the weakening relationship between a pious father and a liberal son, ‘Mooz-lum’ is also an inspirational expedition about cultural, religious and moral values.

Mooz-lum Movie Review - Mooz-lum Story, Movie Review, Cast And Rating

The movie attempts to spread more than one siginificant message of inspiration among thousands of African American Muslims who find it extremely hard to live as outsiders in a foreign country while practising their religion with minimum disruptions (which is nearly impossible as well).

The ultimate villain of ‘Mooz-lum’ therefore is dogma (both religious and social) wherein several Muslims resort to intimidation in order to motivate (threaten would be a more apt word) their fellow brothers and sisters to become more ardent followers of the religion.

The individual characters in the movie have done justice to their respective roles. Ross as Tariq is passable as the depressed and cynical son. Nia Long who plays the role of Safiyah is remarkable as Tariq’s protective mother who is torn between the love for her son and the decision to leave him with his abusive father. The rest of the cast is praiseworthy.

Somber and dull throughout, the movie though overwhelming at places, manages to keep the tension in the screenplay intact. Bashir’s revolutionary thoughts and instincts give a fresh appeal to the script which is infused with healthy doses of flashbacks, montages, and didacticism.

On the whole, ‘Mooz-lum’cannot be termed an ordinary story of a father-son’s tolerant relationship. Then again, it cannot be termed as a flick that centers on the community and its values. Rather ‘Mooz-lum’ is a movie that manages to combine both these narratives to form a spell binding story about love, family, forgiveness, moral values, faith and religious stability in a world that has become more inward towards Muslims, especially those living in foreign countries and bear the tag of ‘would be terrorist’ wherever they go!

Our Verdict: An eye opener of sorts, especially for Muslims and those who feel intimidated by the religion and its so called stringent measures.

Director: Qasim Bashir

Cast: Evan Ross, Roger Guenveur Smith, Nia Long, Danny Glover, Dorian Missick, Kunal Sharma, Kimberly Drummond

Rating: 3.5/5

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