Indian American director Mira Nair He did not originally intend to become a director and expected to study sociology. This is what she studied in India before transferring to Harvard, but it was at Harvard that she joined the theater club on campus and her passion for performing was sparked. Acting led her into filmmaking, where she began making documentaries on Indian cultural traditions, and even made her Harvard thesis a documentary on the streets of Old Delhi. Nair continued to make documentaries throughout her career as a filmmaker, but in 1983, she co-wrote and directed her first feature film: Salaam Bombay!
Salaam Bombay! It was a huge success, putting Nair on the map. With her co-writer Sooni Taraporevala, she followed it up with a release Mississippi Masala in 1991, which discussed the existence and experiences of Indians, who were born in Uganda, and who live in rural Mississippi. Nair has continued to produce TV shows, short films, documentaries and films throughout her career – she has even been asked to direct Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at one point. Nair’s subjects are diverse, showing an interest in stories that often don’t make it to Hollywood, ultimately proving that South Asians have stories outside of romantic Bollywood. She will direct the upcoming re-imagined movie national treasure Series on Disney+ and adaptation of a short story by Ellen Barry. Until then, this is her best movie yet.
6/6 Queen of Katwe
Queen of Katwe, released in 2016, tells the inspiring true story of the slums in Uganda. A young girl named Phiona Mutsei, portrayed by Madina Nalwanga, is a 10-year-old who lives in the slums of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. She helps her mother and brother try to survive in their daily circumstances and life, but when she meets someone through the missionary program, he teaches her how to play chess. This changes her life forever. She was taken to local competitions and won them all, earning her a spot on the Ugandan national team. Her family’s hopes and dreams come close to her, as she hopes to make enough money to support them.
5/6 The reluctant fundamentalist
released in 2012, The reluctant fundamentalist Many years in the making before seeing the light of day. Nair based the film on the novel of the same name by Mohsin Hameed. The two stars in the film are Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson. An American professor has been kidnapped in Pakistan, and his colleague, Changez (Ahmed), is believed to be involved in the kidnapping. He was educated at Princeton University on a scholarship, but when 9/11 happened in the United States, his life changed. Changez has been racially profiled and targeted by agents, leaving him in a rage over what is happening now and the US intervention in Pakistan.
4/6 Salaam Bombay!
The movie that introduced Mira Nair to the world, Salaam Bombay! It was nominated for a slew of awards upon its release, though it was considered a foreign film due to its subject matter and (Hindi) language. The camera focuses on the world’s largest slum in Mumbai, where street children are forced to survive in the most difficult conditions. Many of the cast were actual street kids from the area. A young boy sets his brother’s motorcycle on fire after being bullied, and his mother forces him to start working in a circus. He leaves home when the circus packs up in search of work but meets people in far worse circumstances than himself.
3/6 Monsoon wedding
Monsoon wedding It’s about its namesake: a happening wedding with a flair for the dramatic. An arranged marriage is about to take place and the wedding brings together family members from all over the world. The occasion will be grand and costly, leading to some financial hardship in some ways while other family members will come from complicated situations abroad. Monsoon wedding It has a lot of drama packed into its story along with a wide cast of characters, which makes it a bit difficult at times to remember whose story it is, but it proves to be rewarding in the end.
Based on Gamba Lahiri’s novel of the same name, namesake It tells the story of Gogol, the son of Bengali immigrants to the United States. The novel covers a lot of ground, and the movie stays true to the spirit of the original story. It begins with Ashoke and Ashima migrating from Kolkata to New York City, where they are raising their two children, Gogol and Sonia. Despite the parents’ attempt to preserve their culture and homeland, Gogol grows up to be rebellious and more American than Indian, leading to some major culture clashes between his parents and him.
1/6 Mississippi Masala
Nestled deep in the Mississippi countryside, Mississippi Masala is a unique story about the Ugandan-born Indians living in the American South. At its root, the movie is a love story. An Indian family flees Uganda and settles in Mississippi to start anew, putting down roots for a new life after Uganda forced its Indian population out. The family’s daughter, Mina, welcomes her new life in America and falls in love with a local black man, portrayed by Denzel Washington. She keeps the relationship a secret because she knows her parents would never approve, while also facing hatred from the local black communities of which he is also a part.
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