Real-Life Najeeb In ‘The Goat Life’ Explained: Where Is He Now?

The national award-winning director Blessy has known for delivering path-breaking cinema ever since his debut film Kaazhcha was released in 2004. This film is based on a Malayali family taking in an orphan who lost his parents in the devastating Gujarat earthquake. Blessy is known for directing films that are based on the journey of a human being in various circumstances. Anybody could be faced with extraordinary circumstances, and end up coming out of it while experiencing the journey of a lifetime. Aadujeevitham, or The Goat Life, is currently running successfully in theaters around Kerala for the right reasons. The movie has been in the making for sixteen years, and the screenplay is based on the novel of the same name by Benyamin, who chronicled the story of Najeeb, an immigrant worker in Saudi Arabia.


Spoilers Ahead 

Who Is Najeeb?

The movie, right from the start, jumps into a situation that tests Najeeb’s endurance level. Najeeb, just like any other immigrant worker traveling to the Middle East for the first time, faced the issue of not really knowing what was going on, as he was unaware of the local language. Najeeb was thrown into the deep end of the pool and was expected to swim or sink. He was in the middle of a desert with no civilization in sight to save himself. 


Najeeb, who was unaware of the work he was expected to do at the farm, had to learn everything the harsh way. The man was treated like a slave for several years. The loneliness and life away from civilization in the harsh desert changed him as a man, both physically and mentally. Najeeb managed to escape as he took fate into his own hands. The challenge was to cross the never-ending desert in the scorching heat. Despite facing the death of a friend and several other obstacles, Najeeb eventually found himself near the road that would take him back to his real life. 

What Is The Story Of The Real Najeeb?

The story in the movie The Goat Life or Aadujeevitham is based on a real-life flesh-and-blood human being who had faced a harsh life tending the goats in a remote area of Saudi Arabia. Najeeb, just like many other Malayalis, flew to the Middle East and spent a lot of his hard-earned money to acquire a work visa. He hailed from the Alappuzha district of Kerala and hoped to become financially sound after moving to the Middle East. Najeeb was slated to be working in a supermarket as per the agent who arranged for the visa, but his life changed upon reaching. 


The ordeal Najeeb went through taking care of countless goats was unimaginable, and the movie might have been able to showcase only a fraction of what went on in Najeeb’s mind. As per the book and several interviews, his voice and cry for help were constantly ignored by the Arabs who kidnapped him. Najeeb spent his initial days clueless about the work that needed to be done without any remuneration in return.  The director-writer, Blessy, made sure to keep the film as close to the real source material as possible to present the experience as authentic. As per Najeeb’s interview with the News Minute and the book, the man had to spend all his time without a shower or changing clothes, which was shown in the movie as well. 

In the book and the film, Najeeb seemed to have formed a connection with the animals, as they could sense his pain even without sharing words. Najeeb found solace in their company, yet he still yearned for a life away from here. The book and the film did a great job of projecting how the animals never turned against him as Najeeb took good care of them. The book describes Najeeb as someone who felt that he practically became one of the goats after living among them for so long . Blessy’s version does not seem to do that, as there was always a disconnect, even though Najeeb on screen fed them one last time before escaping. Najeeb in the film was more concerned about wanting a way out of this life. The real-life Najeeb slowly gave in until he eventually found a way to escape. 


As stated by the man himself, Najeeb was constantly subjected to physical abuse by the owner of the farm, and the abuse became a pattern he got used to. This was also shown in the movie; the onscreen Najeeb was afraid of the Arab who was trying to help him, which probably triggered his memories of a local putting him through harrowing times. The real-life Najeeb’s story in the book and his interview had the man getting used to the stench of the goats and his body and living with it till he managed to escape. The movie had Najeeb and Hakeem getting separated but reuniting after years of strenuous ordeals. The book and the interview had another tale to share: Najeeb escaped the farm only to find another Malayali man who was stuck at another farm and had managed to escape as well. 

The ending of the movie was very similar to how Najeeb described his experience in the book and the interview. The man was barely alive when he was rescued by a local who dropped him off in the city of Riyadh. Najeeb had to be groomed to make him feel like a part of a civilization where people offered him proper shelter and food. The real-life Najeeb was saved by his relatives as per the interview, unlike in the film. The onscreen version has Najeeb being saved by a few Malayalis who helped him get back on his feet and assisted in sending him back home. 


Najeeb had to face jail time because of the loss of his documents, but his time in prison was far more peaceful than his life in the middle of the desert, where there was nothing to protect him from dying at any given point. There was not much difference between the onscreen Najeeb and the real-life man in terms of experience shared. Aadujeevitham, the book by Benyamin, was a bestseller, while the movie by Blessy is on the way to becoming one of the most successful movies of this year. 

Where Is Najeeb Right Now?

Najeeb became the protagonist of the novel Benyamin when the former went back to Bahrain. He received a proper visa to work in Bahrain. He and Benyamin were acquainted in Bahrain, and his tales of his terrible experience inspired the author to turn his words into a book that eventually became an instant hit. As per several reports, Najeeb still works in Bahrain, and his torturous life in Saudi Arabia never stopped him from heading back to the Middle East. His life was a story of hope, survival, willingness to live, and having faith in God that led him out of an awful situation. 


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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