Tag Archives: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2013

The fourth annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival begins on Friday, September 20. The three-day festival kicks off with a gala U.S. premiere of Oass, a challenging drama about child trafficking. Click here to read my review of Oass.

Other films of particular interest to Hindi-film fans include the world premiere of Club 60, the U.S. premiere of Chor Chor Super Chor, and a screening of Shahid, which opens in theaters in India on October 18.

The festival closes on Sunday night with a screening of director Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Click here to read my review of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Some of the artists attending CSAFF 2013 include directors Hansal Mehta (Shahid), Abhinav Shiv Tiwari (Oass), and Sanjay Tripathy (Club 60), as well as actors Priyanka Bose (Oass) and Farooq Shaikh (Club 60).

This year, the CSAFF added a great new feature for those unable to attend the fest in person: the CSAFF Online Film Festival. A dedicated Vimeo channel allows fans to screen several of the short films featured at this year’s festival online. It’s a great way to expand the reach of a super film festival.

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Opening May 17: Aurangzeb

The crime thriller Aurangzeb — the latest offering from Yash Raj Films — opens in Chicago area theaters on May 17, 2013.

Aurangzeb opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

The zombie comedy Go Goa Gone — which earned $170,044 in its first weekend in U.S. theaters — carries over for a second week at all of the above theaters. Having earned $338,433 in the U.S. so far, Shootout at Wadala gets a third weekend at the South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Bharya Athra Pora (Malayalam), Soodhu Kavvum (Tamil), and Tadakha (Telugu).

Friday also marks the release of The Reluctant Fundamentalist in India. I recommend it.

Opening May 3: Shootout at Wadala

One new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on May 3, 2013. Sadly, it’s not Bombay Talkies*, but Shootout at Wadala looks like it could be a cool action flick. The trailer features Anil Kapoor using wet laundry to beat up a guy, for Pete’s sake!

Shootout at Wadala opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.

Fans of Hindi films may want to check out Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which features Bollywood vets Om Puri and Shabana Azmi in supporting roles. It opens locally on Friday at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema in Chicago.

Other Indian movies playing locally this weekend include Greeku Veerudu (Telugu) at both the Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge and the Golf Glen 5, which also carries Ethir Neechal (Tamil), Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde (Telugu), and Immanuel (Malayalam).

*Director Karan Johar tweeted that Bombay Talkies will release internationally after it premieres at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19.

Movie Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013)

TheReluctantFundamentalist3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Buy Mira Nair’s book on the making of the film at Amazon

The Reluctant Fundamentalist reminds us that the traumas of our personal lives don’t stop for global catastrophes. The movie’s title alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Radical Islam is just one facet of a compelling narrative about some of the major issues of the last twelve years.

The tale of modern times is told through the experiences of Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed). Now a professor in his native Pakistan, Changez is questioned by a journalist — Bobby (Liev Schreiber) — about the kidnapping of an American professor at the same university. Changez stalls in revealing details of the kidnapping to Bobby by explaining how his experiences shaped his conflicted view of America.

Eager to improve the declining fortunes of his artist parents — played by Om Puri and Shabana Azmi — Changez moves to America in the late 1990s to study business. He gets a job at a Bain Capital-type firm that specializes in making companies more profitable, usually by laying off employees. He falls in love with Erica (Kate Hudson), the artsy niece of the head of his firm.

The attacks of 9/11 happen while Changez is on assignment in the Philippines, and he returns to the U.S to find that the rules of society have changed for him. In the film’s most disturbing scene, the rest of his team members waltz through airport security while Changez is subjected to an invasive strip search solely because of his ethnicity. His relationship with Erica deteriorates, and Changez wonders if America is really where he belongs.

After playing a villain in Trishna, Ahmed shows his versatility in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Ahmed makes Changez sympathetic and relatable as he navigates a society that isn’t the pure meritocracy he expected it to be. His best friend, Wainwright (Nelsen Ellis), is the only other member of a racial minority employed at their firm. Among whites — including his boss, played by Kiefer Sutherland, and even his girlfriend — Changez feels treated like a token and not a real person.

In addition to the presence of Bollywood veterans Puri and Azmi, fans of Hindi films will find a lot of thematically familiar material in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Changez’s troubled romantic relationship with Erica suffers as much from an undercurrent of prejudice as it does from problems in Erica’s past. He likewise struggles with disappointing his parents, who aren’t impressed by his material ambitions, even when they benefit from them. With a runtime of 130 minutes and a leisurely approach to storytelling, the pace of the film will feel familiar to Bollywood fans as well.

Early in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Changez tells Bobby that understanding only comes with patience. It’s a criticism of American mistakes in the country’s rush to deal with Islamic terrorism, but it is also good advice for how to watch the movie. Those willing to embrace the personal drama within the movie’s larger story about American interference in Pakistan will be rewarded.

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