The Reluctant Fundamentalist
A young man’s identity pivots between a glittering stockbroker career in New York and his home culture thousands of miles away in Pakistan.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director Mira Nair
- Producer Lydia Dean Pilcher
- Screenwriter William Wheeler, Mohsin Hamid, Ami Boghani
- With Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland
- USA-India-Pakistan 2012
- 128 mins
- Sales K5 International
Director Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay; Monsoon Wedding) returns to the Festival with her intense adaption of Moshin Hamid’s bestseller. It tells of Changez, an ambitious young man whose identity pivots between a glittering stockbroker career in the Big Apple and his home culture thousands of miles away in Lahore, Pakistan. Aggressive young gun Changez sums up everything his poet father detests about the West, as he lands a prize job at a firm specialising in the ruthless takeovers of ailing companies. Changez soon catches the eye of troubled trophy WASP princess Erica, who is intrigued by this ‘exotic’ man. Then, out of the blue, the World Trade Centre is destroyed, and suddenly Changez’s Pakistani background and face suddenly don’t fit. Being strip-searched at US Customs is the first of his humiliations; and disenchantment with his new home, which forces Changez to reconsider who he is, draws him back to Pakistan and headlong into the unfolding conflict between the US military and Pakistani extremists. Nair astutely treads the delicate faultlines between Western and Islamic worlds, supported by an impressive cast led by Riz Ahmed, with Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson and Shabana Azmi.
The making of The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a modern story of bridge-making; an Indian making a Pakistani film about America. I was immediately drawn to Mohsin Hamid’s brilliant novel, a sleek, contemporary thriller that challenges all the rhetoric surrounding Muslim identity. My father lived in Lahore before the Partition of India and Pakistan. As a child in modern India in the 1950s, I was steeped in what is considered Pakistani culture: the music, the poetry, the style. I have since found a home in three continents, continuing the seesaw between India, America and Africa. The Reluctant Fundamentalist gave me the platform to create a dialogue between the subcontinent and the west, over a schism that becomes more and more pronounced each day. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is my first ‘human thriller’, a story about conflicting ideologies, instead of competing fists, where perception and suspicion have the power to determine life or death.
Born in 1957 in Orissa, India, and educated at both Delhi University and Harvard. Nair made a stunning entry on to the world stage in 1988 with her first fiction feature, Salaam Bombay!, which was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. She has since directed narrative features in both India and America, and was the winner of the 2001 Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Monsoon Wedding. She is also the founder of the Salaam Baalak Trust, which provides support for street and working children in the inner cities of India, as well as Maisha, a filmmakers’ training program based in East Africa.
1979 Jama Masjid Street Journal [doc]
1983 So Far From India [doc]
1985 India Cabaret (TV doc]
1987 Children of a Desired Sex [TV doc]
1988 Salaam Bombay!
1991 Mississippi Masala
1993 The Day the Mercedes Became a Hat [s]
1995 The Perez Family
1996 Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love
1998 My Own Country [TV]
2001 Monsoon Wedding; The Laughing Club of India [TV doc]
2002 Hysterical Blindness [TV]; 11’09”01 – September 11 [ep India only]
2004 Vanity Fair
2006 The Namesake
2008 Migration [s]; 8 [ep How Can it Be? only]
2009 New York, I Love You [ep Kosher Vegetarian only]; Amelia
2012 The Reluctant Fundamentalist