arts and pop culture | April 28, 2013

The Economist Praises Director Mira Nair's "Potent" Storytelling

Mira Nair's "inquisitive nature and social conscience combined with a healthy appetite for storytelling has proved to be a potent mixture on screen," The Economist writes. Her newest film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is "both compelling and unsettling to watch," the article continues. Coinciding with the recent American release of the film, Mair was interviewed by The Economist on the challenges of adapting her new film from the bestselling book of the same name. She also discussed her unique film-making process, the controversial nature of the film's main theme, and what she wants audiences to take from her work.

The film focuses on the journey of a successful Pakistani immigrant who lives a high-profile life as a New York business analyst. However, a failed love affair, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and a hostage situation turn the protagonist from a capitalist to a fundamentalist, as he returns to his homeland with bitter feelings toward his second home. Given the political underpinnings of the film, The Economist asked the film speaker what she thought the audience reaction to the film would be. "The film keeps winning the audience awards in festivals in America," she says, noting that people are responding positively to this alternative view of a highly sensitive issue. "What I am seeing the film do is spark real discussion and debate," she adds, "and that is the reason I made it; to open windows, to seek to question what is handed to us as truth and to know the defence of the other side."

She also stresses that she did not make the film to promote a particular political agenda. "We do not preach to the converted or make it reductive because that is what I am railing against," she explains in the interview, "the sort of simplistic reductiveness of how the world sees each other." This is a central theme that sweeps through many of Nair's films—a focus on the tug of competing worlds felt by numerous immigrants who come to other countries in hopes of a better life. Further, she presents compelling material that serves as a jumping off point to bridge the gaps between cultures, races, and genders, and to dispel common stereotypes through exploration of these issues. In her talks, she expands on these topics and presents a compelling discussion of the pressing issues addressed in her films.