Director Mira Nair discusses new film “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

Colette Greenstein interviews Film Director Mira Nair

Colette Greenstein | 5/16/2013, noon

Do you hope to teach people with this movie?

I must say, I can’t bear movies that are like homework. I like to take you on a ride, a ride which will transport you with music. Life is even more powerful than fiction can ever be.

At the end of the movie, Changez says, “Looks can be deceiving. I am a lover of America.” What does that mean to you?

The world tells us to be one thing or another thing. And that is not the world anymore. Like [Changez] says “I am Pakistani, I am Muslim, but that’s not all I am.” That is the world. And, that’s what we have to find our way in. Not to give up one or another, but to say that there are many parts to me.

In one interview you said, “I am an independent filmmaker first and foremost.” Why?

For me, creative freedom is an imperative. Movies are an enormously collaborative task, but the joke I have on set is that I am the most open and collaborative person as long as I have the last word. When you make studio films, and I often do because I love the talent and the expanse of it, I’ve not been so lucky to have partners in that world that will not water down some of the rhythm that I bring to the table. And with this film, I was very sure even [if] it was the most difficult film to raise money for, I was sure that this had to be made independently. Otherwise, the censorship would be ingrained from the very beginning and you wouldn’t have the ability to make this complex, unflinching but hopefully human portrait of the world.

How do you create relationships between famous and not-so-famous actors, and does that change the dynamic on the film?

What is so interesting in this film is just the fact that the young man, Changez, is the protagonist. And these known actors are the supporting actors and supporting with such fullness and great depth. That is also a really interesting way for a general audience to understand the new world.

Is it a conscious decision to show the diversity in your films, or does it just happen naturally?

Everything is a conscious decision. Everything is a political act in anything you do. But, it’s also because this is my world. It’s not a political flag-waving agenda. It’s just the way I live and the way the world is. I’m not inventing it. The world is not seen or shown that way. As I always say in my film school mantra, “If we don’t tell our own stories, no one else will.”

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is playing at the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge. For show times, visit: http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/boston/kendallsquarecinema.htm

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