Cast: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer
Sutherland, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi
Direction: Mira Nair
Duration: 2 hours 12 minutes
STORY: The film is a gripping adaptation of Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid’s acclaimed novel on conflicting ideologies and a search for identity, beyond religion.
REVIEW: Can you be who you really are when the world around you forces you to believe otherwise? 9/11 changed the West’s perception of Islam forever. While various films have had the unsettling issue as a backdrop, Mira Nair’s riveting adaptation goes way deeper. Its sensitive yet unsubtle narrative succeeds at retaining the book’s ambiguity, as well as raising pertinent questions on Islamic fundamentalism, emigration and USA’s interference in Pakistan. Nair captures the finer nuances of the thought-provoking tale with great conviction. Hard-working immigrant Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed) is happy living his American dream. Confident and talented, he’s considered as a promising financial analyst at the renowned Wall Street business valuation firm, Underwood Samson. While he’s busy climbing the corporate ladder and finding love in Erica (Hudson), an artist, the twin towers are attacked. As a Muslim in the US, the act of extreme violence not only shatters hopes of Changez’s bright future, but also makes him question his ideologies, objectivity and identity. The beauty of the film lies in the depiction of its protagonist’s unspoken words, suppressed emotions and unwavering beliefs. The incredibly talented Riz Ahmed enables the film to deconstruct the meaning of ‘fundamentalism’, which forms the core of the story. What leaves you in awe of the adapted screenplay is its brilliantly drawn parallels between Changez’s personal, political and social situation. You feel his pain, vulnerability, denial, inner turmoil and psychological conflict. The film keeps you thoroughly engaged, even in parts where the pace drops a bit. While the film is more of a thriller, it doesn’t cease to be a human drama, thanks to sublime supporting performances from Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi and Meesha Shafi. The music is soulful. Songs like Kangna, Bijli Aaye ya na aaye help build the mood. Cinematography is impressive and in sync with Nair’s trademark style of storytelling. Poignant and relevant, the film will Pakistan differently.