While Mira Nair has enjoyed some success over the years for her films, acclaim has usually tended to gather around films set in her native India rather than her more mainstream efforts. “Vanity Fair,” “Amelia,” and even her segment in “New York, I Love You” have all, to one extent or another, fallen flat. Her next feature may be an adaptation of Mohsin Hamid‘s (mostly) New York-set novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist“, but we’re really pretty intrigued to see how this one will play out.
The cast will be led by the talented Riz Ahmed (“Four Lions,” “Trishna“) as Chavez, a Pakistani-American working on Wall Street whose life is altered by the events of 9/11. The event causes “a seismic shift in his own attitude, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.” Starring alongside Ahmed will be Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kate Hudson (who reignites a flicker of hope that the actress we knew from “Almost Famous” is still in there every time she takes a serious role), and the first picture from the film from the production company Cine Mosaic shows Ahmed and Hudson together in a romantic pose.
Nair recently spoke to the Bangalore Mirror about the film and its future release, and fans should keep their eyes peeled for the fall festival season. “The film is about the myopia with which we look at issues like fundamentalism. It breaks the stereotype. It’s about the west, the collapse of Wall Street and a genuine dialogue with America. It’s an interesting duel. It’s about two men, an American and a Pakistani, who probably in a different time and place would be great friends but are not because of the world we live in. The film is almost done. We are doing the music and sound at the moment in Bombay. We’ll be opening it in Venice film festival in September. We will finish the film in June. The entire post production is happening in India. We hope to open it in October November.” Color us excited for this one. No release date yet, but here’s the full synopsis below:
A Princeton graduate from Pakistan, Changez, succeeds on Wall Street, thriving in his adopted city. A thriller unfolds as the political events of the millennium test his allegiances and Changez is forced to choose — a country, a way of life, where he belongs. “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is a collision of the personal and the political — when there is nothing left to lose, which side are you on?
Two men share a meal in Lahore, a Pakistani and an American, adversaries on either side of a debate, a cat-and-mouse game or perhaps something more sinister. Conversation turns to the life of the Pakistani, Changez. Changez comes to the U.S. from Pakistan to attend Princeton. At the top of his class, he is snapped up by the elite valuation firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.
But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned and his relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. Changez’ keen awareness of the differences between him and his acquaintances is thrown into sharp focus as the world around him begins to collapse. His own identity, viewed through the global perspective his work has provided, is in seismic shift as well. His powerlessness in Erica’s disappearance belies his relationship with his adopted home, friends and colleagues.
Changez returns to Lahore, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love. His involvement with pro-Pakistan demonstrations — viewed as un-American by the international media — are called into question as is his connection to a possibly extremist student. After another attack, Changez’s link to the student implicates him indirectly to the group responsible.
What is the nature of Changez’ relationship to the student? Which side is he on? And, who is his dinner companion in Lahore?
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is a riveting, brilliantly unsettling exploration of the personal and the political, the rational and the emotional. A thriller set against the backdrop of contemporary strife, The Reluctant Fundamentalist asks questions where answers fail to tell the whole story.