Locally successful South African comedy Material has been given an international boost with a segment on the movie, and its star Riaad Moosa, airing on global TV news network CNN.

Moosa-CNNActor, screenwriter and stand-up comedian Riaad Moosa discusses the making of Material on CNN.

In an interview with CNN Johannesburg bureau correspondent Robyn Curnow for the programme Inside Africa, Moosa describes the movie business as “extremely tough”, but adds that the filmmakers behind Material – who include producer Ronnie Apteker and director Craig Freimond – “were lucky to have made a profit in our own territory”. Moosa plays the lead in the film, and also has a financial stake in the project.

“The next step is to try to get it to go overseas. We’ve had lots of other screenings with international audiences and they take to it very well.”

Set in the predominantly Indian suburb of Fordsburg in Johannesburg, Material is part comedy, part drama, telling the story of an aspiring stand-up comedian from a devout and hard-working Muslim family who has to challenge his parents to realise his dream of being on stage.

Moosa is himself a stand-up comic, and a Muslim. While the movie may have parallels with his own life, there is a major difference, as he points out to Curlow.

“The story is not specifically my story because my family is very supportive,” he says, “so there was no moment like where I had to challenge my parents specifically to try to achieve my dreams, which is what happens in the movie.”

A pivotal point in the film, aired on the segment, is when Moosa’s character clashes with his father, played by Vincent Ebrahim, the South African-born actor who plays another father in the BBC comedy series The Kumars at Number 42. Material, Moosa says, is “not my personal story by a dramatisation of the general experience of being a South African comedian who is a Muslim”.

But the movie also tells a universal story, he says, which led to its success with South Africans of all types, and at the international screenings. “As a person who tries to create things artistically, the way in which you approach that, is you trying to do the best that you can.”

The cast of Material includes Joey Rasdien, Denise, Newman Krijay Govender, Zakeeya Patel, Roysten Stoffels, Carishma Basday, Nic Rabinowitz, Osmond Ali, Mel Miller, Afzal Khan, Rabin Harduth, Quanita Adams, Pranesh Maharaj and Nina Hastie.

In late November the film will have another stab at the international market when it screens at the International Film Festival of India in Goa on 20 and 30 November.

The segment on Material has aired daily on CNN’s Inside Africa since Friday, with the final screening on Tuesday 13 November at 7:30am.