Nasir: Film Review – A Day in the Life of a Common Man

Realistic and Poignant
85%Overall Score

Streaming on YouTube

In a world that is becoming increasingly vocal about discrimination, Arun Karthick’s Nasir is a wake-up call for anyone who says they’re “apolitical” or “unaffected”. The film follows a single day in the life of its protagonist Nasir (Valavane Koumarane), who is a salesman in Coimbatore. Like most common men, Nasir wakes up in the morning, prays to God, sweetly greets his wife with a kiss, waits in line at the public washrooms for a bath, and sets about on his day at the shop where he sells sarees. His life is fairly mundane, yet he has aspirations that are conveyed through his poetry. As Nasir goes about his day, unaffected by the political propaganda blaring on loudspeakers throughout the city, you cannot help but feel a sense of connect with him, as he is focused on his responsibilities. You walk the day in his shoes and only when his identity comes crashing down on him do you become a mute spectator to the plight of an innocent man with a simple dream.

Delivers a story that’s realistic and a message that’s relevant

Nasir takes us back to several instances in India in the last six years when politics has given rise to communal discord. The film’s setting is the reality of today, where the smallest incidences are communalized and a whole section of people are segregated as “others”. While the evil of political propaganda is not the theme of this film, it runs parallel in the background, reminding us always about the dangers that lie in store for Nasir. It’s obvious to see that even though this man’s experiences are similar to those of every other common man, his identity as a Muslim man can never escape him.

Portrays the plight of the common man

While Nasir is a Muslim, director and writer Arun Karthick has not just reduced his identity to his religion. Nasir is every common man. He lives a hand-to-mouth existence, he loves his family, and he has simple aspirations that revolve around the well-being of his loved ones. He is not swayed by communalism even when it is blaring on loudspeakers around him or when his co-workers make derogatory remarks about his community. He worries about debts and being away from his wife. But even a man who is disconnected to his larger reality cannot escape the evils of political propaganda when it comes crashing down on him, “recognizing him by his clothes”.

The climax leaves you uneasy

While most of the movie seems fairly normal, almost mundane, as we go about living a day in Nasir’s life, the climax strikes you hard. Through the movie, you almost embody Nasir’s character, seeing the world through the eyes of a common man who has basic needs and simple aspirations. But if you do not connect with Nasir’s identity, the reality of his situation comes crashing down, leaving you shattered and uneasy.

While the other side of the world fights for equality, India is still taking baby steps in the acknowledgment of discrimination in our society. Films like Nasir hold a mirror up to the reality that may not be ours but it certainly reflects the times we live in. It deserves a watch for its poignant approach of telling the truth.

Director: Arun Karthick
Writer: Arun Karthick
Cast: Valavane Koumarane, Sudha Ranganathan
Streaming on: YouTube
Language: Tamil

Delnaz Divecha: Writer. Editor. Critic.