Mira Nair`s `Reluctant Fundamentalist` gets warm response at TIFF
Toronto: Director Mira Nair received a warm ovation at the gala premiere of her latest film `The Reluctant Fundamentalist` during the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival.
The film arrived here after opening the Venice film festival, where Nair`s `Monsoon Wedding` had earlier won The Golden Lion.
Based on Mohsin Hamid`s book of the same name, the film addresses the catastrophic consequences of prejudice against South Asian/Indian Muslims in America post 9/11.
The film is latest to take up the isse after Karan Johar`s `My Name is Khan` and Kabir Khan`s thriller `New York`, both on the aftermath of 9/11 in the US.
Nair`s film features Changez (a finely etched performance by charismatic British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed), from Lahore, who goes to the US to live his dream -? he studies at Princeton, then is promoted for being ruthless with lay- offs as a financial analyst with a Wall Street firm.
After 9/11, he suffers the humiliations of many Muslims in the US ?- he is strip searched; then his dimwit girlfriend (Kate Hudson) unintentionally humiliates him too.
Disillusioned, he returns to Lahore becomes a professor inciting radicalism among his students, until his remorse at the climax, when his student (Imaad Shah) is shot dead. The story is told in flashback as Changez is interviewed by journalist/CIA agent Bobby in Lahore.
Nair`s assured craftsmanship establishes how America`s Wall Street schools equally dangerous capitalist jihadis, but underlines capitalist fundamentalism versus Islamic fundamentalism in bold typeface.
William Wheeler`s screenplay (story Mohsin Hamid, Ami Boghani) offers a moving confession as Changez admits he felt awe at the militants` audacity when the Twin Towers fell, before feeling sorrow for the victims.
It also tantalizingly refers to the Pakistani dream, but doesn`t explore it. Om Puri and Shabana Azmi shine in brief roles.
The poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and qawwali songs elevate the film. The cinematography by Declan Quinn is good, contrasting Lahore`s warm tones against New York`s grey and glass.