The “Reluctant Fundamentalist,” a new movie directed by New Yorker Mira Nair that addresses the prejudices that South Asians endured in the aftermath of 9/11, opened at the Venice Film Festival recently, The South Asian Times reported. Below are some excerpts from of the article.
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 Sept. 11 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.
The movie is based in a novel by the same name written by British Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid. There are a lot of South Asian movies that deal with discrimination and mistaken identity after the 9/11 attacks but “Reluctant Fundamentalist” was made in the U.S. and is co-produced by India and Pakistan. Nair was born in India but her father hailed from Pakistan. She said she loves to tell stories about people like her who “live between worlds.”
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 to challenging the Western views of Pakistan as a hotbed of radicals and fundamentalists.