Perception and Context: Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

120830VeniceFundamentalist_6602707This weekend I saw Mira Nair‘s (The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala) newest film The Reluctant Fundamentalist based on the novel by Mohsin Hamid. The film tells the story of a young Pakistani man living in the US and pursuing the American dream–working his way up a financial firm and dating a wealthy all American girl–who becomes disenchanted with the US after 9/11.

The film’s story line is really more wide reaching than that short summary–but honestly to say more will be a total spoiler for a film that relies heavily on the twists and turns it provides. What I can say in more general terms without giving too much away is that this film is very much about how perception is altered by context and how that relates to our attitudes and policies on terrorism and security. There are several instances where as an audience you experience the situation at hand from the vantage point of the American investigative reporter in the story only to find that his/your perception is limited to only a portion of the reality, calling you out on how your expectations alters your ability to see the reality.

The film took Nair five years to make after many rounds of financing challenges, including being told by financiers that she couldn’t get more money for a film that features a Muslim main character. She ended up having to shoot the film for almost half of its original budget. The end result is an engaging film and worth a watch at the theaters where it opened in select cities this weekend.

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