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New Material: When Art Imitates Life Again

Beloved and popular South African comedian, Riaad Moosa, is one of the country's few Muslim stand up comedians. While best known for his stand up comedy, the multi-talented man is also a medical doctor and an actor. Stand up is his first love, a craft he's honed over the years. Having seen him perform at the Comedy Warehouse on a new talent showcase night, you could sense Moosa was going places based on his easy stage presence, charm, rapport and hilarious stories. He's used his doctor slash comedian narrative to fuel his career, which culminated in him writing Material with co-writer and director Craig Freimond (Beyond the River).

New Material Movie Riaad Moosa 2021

Material, a play on the word's application to both comedy and the textile business, turned Moosa's biographical story of wanting to become a stand up comic into a film narrative. While it was far from perfect, Material had the heart, laughs and spirit to make it a hit with audiences. The first film was built around a father-son relationship as a stern Vincent Ebrahim (The Kumars at No. 42) bumped heads with Riaad Moosa in his attempt to keep the family material business in the family. Spurring the dramatic core of Material, the stand up comedy added a lighter touch as Cassim's career takes off in spite of his father's wishes.

A journey of self-determination where stand up served as a metaphorical attempt to carve his own way, Material was not only funny but touching. Released in 2012, the numbers have switched around for the sequel's cinematic release scheduled for 15 October 2021. Instead of a boring title like 'Material 2', the filmmakers have opted for New Material in keeping with the original film's play on words.

Taking another page from the first film's playbook, New Material parallels story elements from reality as Moosa himself grew in stature as a performer. Now at peace with his father, Cassim is struggling to find a balance between living with his aging parents, finding time for his wife and raising a child. Not satisfied with performing to niche audiences in Johannesburg, he decides to take the show on the road with his stand up buddies played by Joey Rasdien and Schalk Bezuidenhout. A new sponsor wants more than Cassim can deliver and difficult decisions rise to the surface as expanding his national audience leads to international opportunities.

New Material also stars Rajesh Gopie, Zakeeya Patel, Kurt Schoonraad, Shashi Naidoo with Denise Newman reprising her role. Produced by Robbie Thorpe (Vaya, Beyond the River) and edited by Gavin Hood's trusted film editor Megan Gill (Official Secrets, Eye in the Sky), the sequel is in safe hands.

It's hard to believe it's been almost a decade since the original film, which won Golden Horns for Freimond as Best Director, Moosa as Best Actor and Ebrahim as Best Supporting Actor. New Material seems like it's more of a road trip, whereas Material had a strong focus on family drama. Similar to the first film, the trailer held back and wasn't a fair reflection of what to expect on screen. It seems as though the same may be true for New Material.

New Material has been ready to release for a while but due to the pandemic, one expects it was held back as lockdown measures forced cinemas to close. Scheduled for October, let's hope that the film fares well given the current constraints and patrons feel more at ease returning to cinemas. Following strict safety protocols, these environments are doing their best to comply with health regulations and with current spacing, you'll be able to spread out without knocking elbows with a stranger. While you're at it, it's probably a good idea to rewatch the first film to get you up-to-speed with the sequel.