‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’: Thriller wows audiences at Venice film festival

Published: August 30, 2012
Movie shows successful Wall Street executive renouncing corporate world after 9/11. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Movie shows successful Wall Street executive renouncing corporate world after 9/11. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Movie shows successful Wall Street executive renouncing corporate world after 9/11. PHOTO: PUBLICITY Indian film director Mira Nair poses with the cast of her film ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’. Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid, British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed, actress Kate Hudson and US actor Liev Schreiber were the stars of the film. PHOTO: AFP

VENICE: Indian director Mira Nair’s political thriller ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ left audiences awestruck in Venice on Wednesday with its powerful tale of a young Pakistani man who renounces Wall Street.

Starring British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed as the soulful Changez, the film is based on an award-winning novel by Mohsin Hamid and set in corporate New York and a richly-hued Lahore, before and after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It examines the traces of a young Pakistani’s journey from Wall Street high flyer to suspected radical targeted by the American intelligence following the attacks.

The adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel was directed by Mira Nair, an Indian who lives in New York, where she said attitudes towards her and others from Asia quickly changed following the 9/11 attacks. “Suddenly it became a place where people who look like us became ‘the other’ and that was painful, and that was also part of the inspiration to make this film,” she told reporters after a press screening of the movie.

She added that “I believe I’ve been put on this earth to tell stories of people like me who live between worlds.”

“It was a very complicated and painful time,” added Nair, who won the Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice film festival in 2001 for ‘Monsoon Wedding’. The film-maker said she felt well placed to portray the story of Changez, who is tipped for the top in the world of high finance before the events of September 2001 turn his world upside down.

The audience gasped in horror at the humiliations Changez suffers, such as a cavity search at the airport and aggressive interrogations. Ostracised and drawing suspicion at every turn, he returns to Pakistan to teach at a university in Lahore. There he is approached by a radical militant cell that wants him to join its violent campaign against Western interests.

Ahmed, who also starred in the controversial suicide bomber comedy ‘Four Lions’, said he shared some of Changez’s frustrations. “We are to some extent defined by the labels that are slung around our neck,” he told a news conference.

Nair told reporters ahead of the evening red carpet premiere that “We all know there has been an enormous schism between the East and the West in this last decade. I sought to bring some sense of bridge-making, some sense of healing, basically some sense of communication.” Nair also said she took as her starting point the 1966 movie ‘The Battle of Algiers’, acclaimed for its even-handed treatment of the Algerian war in the 1950s.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Aug 30, 2012 - 9:17AM

    Can’t wait to watch this!!


  • Lubna
    Aug 30, 2012 - 10:28AM

    I hope this movie is allowed to be shown in Pakistan


  • jism
    Aug 30, 2012 - 10:56AM

    these people are changing the entire image of Pakistan, from a progressive,talented to a worn torn state with eternal conflicting interests in power circles. Pakistan is being portrayed like African countries were wars have become a common occurrence and widely accepted natural behavior in society.


  • Haider
    Aug 30, 2012 - 10:59AM

    I don’t know why people say that “Can’t wait to watch this!!”…they know they have to…


  • Khan
    Aug 30, 2012 - 11:03AM

    When will this movie come to Lahore?


  • tj
    Aug 30, 2012 - 11:19AM



  • usman
    Aug 30, 2012 - 12:02PM

    Pakistan is not deprived of talent and natural resources.it lacks planning,policy and rule of law.


  • Mehboob
    Aug 30, 2012 - 6:13PM

    @Jism: you have to read the book first then comment about it.


  • Sameen
    Aug 30, 2012 - 6:17PM

    The book was a indeed a masterpiece. I hope the movie fulfills the standard set by the book and succeeds in altering the stereotypical image of Pakistanis in the eyes of most of the world, west in particular.


  • Tania Shah
    Aug 31, 2012 - 10:12PM

    @ jism .This is a sad class that refuses to respect & honor any acheivements of Pakistanis in sports, media, education or any field. They refuse to accept the hard work & commitment of these contributors & in a way it stems from an inward jealousy.Recommend

  • Nory
    Sep 3, 2012 - 8:00PM

    Don’t u think ur doing the same mistake by describing African countries as permanently in war as a daily style of life? I don’t think Africans would agree with what u say either.


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