24 October, 2014

The reluctant fundamentalist (DVD ) [Suneeta, Highland Park Library]

The film The reluctant fundamentalist is an adaptation of the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid. That the film was directed by U.S. based Indian director Mira Nair (The namesake, Salaam Bombay), was a definite attraction and it delivered most of what I expected – a visual treat and food for thought.

There are two strands to the story in which Changez, the young, westernised, upper-class, Princeton educated Pakistani is at the centre of both. In the present we see him as a professor in his native Lahore, telling his story to an American journalist. As they sit in the tense atmosphere of a café, the journo’s task is to find out whether Changez is involved in the abduction of an American professor visiting a local university.  

Interwoven into this narrative is the story of a younger Changez, the economic analyst specialising in corporate downsizing, living the capitalist dream in New York and very much in love with an American artist. Then the Twin Towers are attacked and the subsequent cultural divide that cracks the city, changes him.  As people of his colour and background come to be mistrusted, he reconsiders his loyalties and while his brand of “fundamentalism” appears rather vague, he reassesses his life choices and goes back to Pakistan.

Though the film has received some criticism for its lack of clarity, length and somewhat loose labelling as a thriller, there is much to enjoy in the performances by Riz Ahmed and the supporting cast, in this story of race, fear and inner conflict of a man forced to choose between two worlds.

Director: Mira Nair
Producer: Lydia Dean Pilcher
Year: 2013
Distributed by: Vendetta

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