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Mira Nair’s film on 9/11 aims to build bridges



New York: A young Pakistani immigrant pursues the great American dream – tops his class at Princeton, snaps up a job in an elite ‘valuation’ firm and thrives on the energy of New York until September11 when suddenly the world changes and he is looked at as the ‘other.’ He finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned when all that was promised to him in the land of freedom is swiftly taken away and he is forced to evaluate his own identity in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

That’s the story critically acclaimed Indian American director Mira Nair wants to tell in the movie ‘Reluctant fundamentalist’, a Hollywood political thriller. Fittingly, the movie premiered just days ahead of the anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attack on Wednesday August 29 as the opener of the Venice Film Festival, a city that historically has been a bridge between East and West.

Reluctant fundamentalist is based on the novel by the same name by British Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid.

Movies based on prejudice and mistaken identity post 9/11 terrorist attacks have become a common place in the South Asian cinema but in terms of movies coming out of the USA it’s unique. It is the first movie co-produced between India and Pakistan and also features Hollywood actors Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber and Kate Hudson.

“I believe that I have actually been put on this earth to tell stories of people like me, who live between worlds,” the Indian-born and New York-based director told a news conference. “I am a child of modern India but I was raised by essentially a father who came from Lahore, before it was partitioned and became part of Pakistan.”

As an Indian living in New York, Nair hopes for a change of attitude towards South Asians following the 9/11 attacks. At a press conference before the opening of the event, Nair said, “We all know there has been an enormous schism, a wall between East and West, since, in this last decade,” she said. “So I sought very much in the dialogue between America and the Islamic world in the film to really bring some sense of bridge-making, some sense of healing, a sense of community that goes beyond the stereotypes, goes beyond the myopia, goes beyond the ignorance.”

The movie got mixed responses from the audiences. Many critics praised Nair’s attempt for challenging the Western views of Pakistan as a hotbed of radicals and fundamentalists.

The film was shot in Delhi, Istanbul, New York city, Atlanta and Lahore.


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