What to Read Next

Yahoo! India Movies Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

arummana
Movie Reviews
17 May 2013

Cast: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Imaad Shah

Direction: Mira Nair

Rating: ****

Mira Nair takes on the daunting task of adapting Mohsin Hamid’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ and skillfully transforms a monologue into an engaging plot. She weaves an elaborate tale, infusing it with warmth and texture.

Mira Nair’s narrative feels like a constant dialogue with the audience where she questions our presumptuous notions of the “other”. She introduces a third act; what does her protagonist do once the alienation is complete, after Changez (Riz Ahmed) decides to give up his American dream and return to Pakistan, a nation in turmoil? The third act provides a perspective and makes us hopeful of a possible closure.

Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed) is charming and intelligent, excelling first at Princeton University and soon establishing himself as a successful business analyst on Wall Street. His professional achievements are complimented as he finds himself falling in love with the beautiful Erica (Kate Hudson). The “promised land” has been good to him, it embraces him and his talents without any discrimination.

Post 9/11, America’s reaction to the unfortunate events sets a completely different agenda for the rest of the world; there is no place for a discourse any more, you are either with the US or you are not. For Changez from Lahore with Khan as his surname, there was hardly a choice, he says, “You picked a side after 9/11, I didn’t have to. It was picked for me”. Riz Ahmed’s portrayal is sensitive and well nuanced, his face mirrors his inner conflicts like a mirage and his expressive eyes saying much more than any rhetoric could.

Nair plays with hues and spaces. Changez’s autumn in New York is depicted with warm colors. However, as he watches the coverage of the collapse of the twin towers, the color seeps away, the spaces close-in. We feel claustrophobic every time our protagonist is asked to step aside for a special security check. His silence conveying his humiliation as he is asked to remove his clothes, his quite eyes questioning why is he is being stripped of his self-respect over and over again? He has been a law-abiding American after all.

Once back in Pakistan, Changez is a charismatic leader. Is he instigating young impressionable minds? Does he know of the whereabouts of the kidnapped foreign professor? Will he remain a mute spectator as fundamentalists have their way? Is his silence a way of settling scores with the West that has betrayed him? You find yourself repeatedly asking these questions as the taut script builds up the climax to a crescendo.

What left me a little disappointed was the romantic track between Changez and Erica, it seemed a little superfluous, lacking the depth it had effectively conveyed in the book; the sketchy depiction belied a slightly uncertain approach. I guess, Changez’s tumultuous relationship with the US takes precedence. Much like a toxic romantic relationship, Changez makes numerous attempts to make peace with it but is repeatedly heartbroken.

Mira Nair’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ is a must watch not only because the director exhibits rare craft as a filmmaker but essentially because it helps us make an attempt to understand the "other" which will probably some day help us find closure.

Did you like the film? Share your views/comments with us on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also connect with me on Twitter.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Get This Once-In-A-Lifetime Deal Before It's Gone!

Get 4 Disney Movies For $1 With Membership. See Details. Exclusive Titles, Merchandise, Offers & Discounts. Plus, Free Shipping On Your Initial Order!

Read This Before Buying Medicare Supplement Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Heartburn Facts

Read About Heartburn Facts From TUMS. Check Out Heartburn History, Who Gets Heartburn and More.

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Trouble Understanding Your Teen?

Raising teenagers can be a challenge. Learn why teens do what they do in our teen email series.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

Transfer Your Balance To A Better Credit Card

CreditCards.com makes it easy to compare the top ranked credit cards out there. Learn more about balance transfer credit cards here.

What Happens When a Harvard Engineer Gets Robbed?

He designs a smarter home security system—without contracts, installation fees or sneaky salesmen. Discover a smarter way to protect your home today.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

You'll Love This Disney Movie Club Offer!

Get 4 Disney Movies For $1 With Membership. See Details. Exclusive Titles, Merchandise, Offers & Discounts. Plus, Free Shipping On Your Initial Order!

Get a second chance to enroll in Medicare

Didn't enroll in Medicare when you were first eligible? Do it now during the General Enrollment Period.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.