×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mira Nair recalls ‘Reluctant’ journey

Opener brings helmer back to Lido 11 years after 9/11

When the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack hit the U.S., Mira Nair was on a plane to Toronto having won the Venice Golden Lion for “Monsoon Wedding” two days earlier.

Back on the Lido almost 11 years later with fest opener “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” a political thriller tackling complex moral and human issues springing from the attacks on the Twin Towers, the helmer known for bridging East and West recalls her shock.

India-born Nair said, “I live in Manhattan; so my first thoughts were for my family and friends. I wondered: is everyone safe?”

Not surprisingly, adapting Mohsin Hamid’s bestseller about a young Pakistani man pursuing the American dream on Wall Street who becomes disenchanted with the U.S. and somewhat sympathetic with Islamic terrorism, posed big challenges.

Narratively for “Fundamentalist,” the tough task was to tread a fine line as protag Changez Khan, played by Riz Ahmed, goes through personal changes prompted by the attacks, the politics and war that followed, and also by his money-manic Wall Street work environment.

“What I always wanted to do was make the audience walk a tightrope with Changez,” Nair said. “In the last decade the politics of the world have been driven so hard with spin, myopia, and ignorance to create absolute viewpoints. I wanted to humanize political questions through a living, breathing, complicated contradictory character. That’s the way to reach people way beyond politics.”

As for how to make the film resonate with worldwide auds, Nair said she specifically thought of her 20-year-old son “who is worldly and who is of many worlds.”

“I was thinking that I would like this film to reach the young, and not in a lowest common denominator way. I want young people to know and grapple with what it is to be a divided self, and to remember how it can be possible to get through that, and remember who you are,” she said.

From a production standpoint the challenge was to find investors for a film with Western stars that could be misconstrued as being in the Islamic terrorism camp.

“Equity investors were bailing out by the minute,” Nair said.

In the end the Doha Film Institute put up the pic’s entire $15 million budget.

The next challenge for producer Lydia Pilcher and sales company K5 is to land a U.S. sale on a pic that could play prominently in the East and in Europe.

More Film

  • James Bond Spectre

    Bond 25 Moved Back Two Months to April 2020

    James Bond will arrive two months later than planned as MGM moved back the release date on the untitled Bond 25 movie from Feb. 14 to April 8, 2020 — a Wednesday before the start of Easter weekend. It’s the second delay for Bond 25. MGM and Eon originally announced in 2017 that the film [...]

  • Fast and Furious 8

    'Fast and Furious 9' Release Date Pushed Back Six Weeks

    Universal Pictures has shifted “Fast and Furious 9” back six weeks from April 10 to May 22, 2020 — the start of the Memorial Day weekend. It’s the second backwards shift for the title. In 2017, Universal moved the film back a year from April 19, 2019, to April 10, 2020. Both dates fall on [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    'Alita' Inching Past 'Lego Movie 2' at Presidents Day Weekend Box Office

    James Cameron’s “Alita: Battle Angel” has a slight edge over “The Lego Movie 2” in a tight race for domestic box office supremacy during Presidents Day weekend. Both are aiming for about $27 million, early estimates showed on Friday. The two titles are the only current bright spots as overall moviegoing for 2019 trails far [...]

  • Ludwig Goransson Black Panther Composer

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Scores

    Unlike the song category, it’s impossible to predict the winner from this year’s quintet of original-score nominees. It’s almost anyone’s game. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson spent a month in Africa recording unusual drums, flutes and vocals, then adding them to a massive London orchestra and choir to create a unique soundscape for the fictional land [...]

  • Oscars Best Song Nominees

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Songs

    This year’s crop of Oscar-nominated songs may be the most diverse in years: a ballad and a pop-rap from two of the year’s biggest films, plus a delicate lullaby from a Disney musical, a political themed anthem, and a novelty tune for singing cowboys. “Shallow,” the top-10 hit from “A Star Is Born,” is widely [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    All Oscar Categories to Air Live After Hollywood Protest

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reversed its controversial decision to hand out four Oscars during the telecast’s commercial breaks. Following a Thursday night meeting with top cinematographers, Academy leadership including president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson have pledged to air every awards category on the live show a week from [...]

  • Academy Awards preparation 2017

    Cinematographers Hopeful That Academy Will Reverse Oscarcast Exclusions

    Cinematographers who are opposing the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations on the telecast have said a “productive” Thursday night meeting with Academy brass may lead to a reversal of the exclusions. American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum said in a letter to members Friday that he expects a decision by the end [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content