Nair at the 2008 IIFW Masterclass Directors Meet
15 October 1957 |
Rourkela, Odisha, India
|Occupation||Film director, film producer|
|Spouse(s)||Mitch Epstein (divorced)
Mahmood Mamdani (1988–present)
She was educated at Delhi University and Harvard University. Her debut feature film, Salaam Bombay! (1988), won the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival and also earned the nomination for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She used the proceeds of the film to establish an organization for street children, called the Salaam Baalak Trust in India. She often works with longtime creative collaborator screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala, whom she met at Harvard.
She has won a number of awards, including a National Film Award and various international film festival awards, and was a nominee at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards and Filmfare Awards. She was also awarded the India Abroad Person of the Year-2007. In 2012 she was awarded India's third highest civilian award the Padma Bhushan by President of India, Pratibha Patil.
At the beginning of her career as a film artist, Nair directed four television documentaries. India Cabaret, a film about the lives of strippers in a Bombay nightclub, won the Blue Ribbon award at the 1986 American Film Festival. Salaam Bombay! (1988), with a screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won many other awards. It is today considered a groundbreaking classic, and is standard fare for film students.
The 1991 film Mississippi Masala starred Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, and profiled a family of displaced Ugandan-Indians living and working in Mississippi. The screenplay was again by Sooni Taraporevala, and it was produced by Michael Nozik. In 1995, her film adaptation of the book The Perez Family, by Christine Bell, was released. The film starred Marisa Tomei, Alfred Molina, and Angelica Huston, and was again produced by Michael Nozik.
She was also the director of the movie Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, a provocative movie set in 16th century India. In 1998 she made My Own Country, starring Naveen Andrews. It was produced for HBO Films and adapted from the memoir by Abraham Verghese by Sooni Taraporevala.
In 2001 she released Monsoon Wedding (2001), a film about a chaotic Punjabi Indian wedding, with a screenplay by Sabrina Dhawan. It was awarded the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, making Nair the first female recipient of the award. After the success of Monsoon Wedding, Nair collaborated with writer Julian Fellowes on her 2004 adaptation of Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair, starring Reese Witherspoon. The same year she also founded Maisha, a film lab to help East Africans and South Asians learn to make films. Maisha is headquartered in Nair's adopted home of Kampala, Uganda. Later that year she rejected an offer to direct Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix saying, "... I would prefer someone else make it. I am better suited to emotions, human beings, and less interested in special effects.".
Her next film, The Namesake, premiered in fall 2006 at Dartmouth College, where Nair was presented with the Dartmouth Film Award. Another premiere was held in fall 2006 with the Indo-American Arts Council in New York. The Namesake, adapted by Sooni Taraporevala from the novel by Pulitzer Prize–winner Jhumpa Lahiri, was released in March 2007. The same year she was honored with the Pride of India award at the 9th Bollywood Movie Awards for her contributions to the film industry.
She directed a short film in New York, I Love You, a romantic-drama anthology of love stories set in New York and a 12-minute movie on AIDS awareness (funded by The Gates Foundation) called Migration.
For several years, Nair was attached to a big-budget adaptation of the novel Shantaram, but the production was shelved in 2009. Nair has also purchased the rights to Mohsin Hamid's 2007 novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist., and the film is set for an early 2013 release.
In 2004, Nair was invited to serve as the first Mentor in Film for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, an international philanthropic programme that pairs masters in their disciplines with emerging talents for a year of one-to-one creative exchange. Out of a very gifted field of candidates, Nair chose young Thai director Aditya Assarat as her protégé. Other film mentors for the initiative include Stephen Frears (2006), Martin Scorsese (2008), Zhang Yimou (2010) and Walter Murch (2012).
Personal life 
Nair lives in New York City near Columbia University, where she is an adjunct professor in the Film Division of the School of Arts, and where her second husband, Professor Mahmood Mamdani, also teaches. Nair and her husband first met in 1988, when she went to Uganda for the first time to research for the film Mississippi Masala. She was earlier married to the photographer Mitch Epstein. Nair has been an enthusiastic yoga practitioner for decades; when making a film, she has the cast and crew start the day with a yoga session. Nair and Mamdani have one son named Zohran.
- Jama Street Masjid Journal (1979)
- So Far From India (1982)
- India Cabaret (1985)
- Children Of A Desired Sex (1987)
- Salaam Bombay! (1988)
- Mississippi Masala (1991)
- The Day the Mercedes Became a Hat (1993)
- The Perez Family (1995)
- Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)
- My Own Country (1998) (Showtime)
- Monsoon Wedding (2001)
- Hysterical Blindness (2002)
- 11'9"01 September 11 (Segment - "India") (2002)
- Still, The Children are Here (2003)
- Vanity Fair (2004)
- The Namesake (2006)
- Migration.. (2007)
- New York, I Love You (Segment - "Kosher Vegetarian") (2009)
- 8 (Segment - "How can it be?") (2008)
- Amelia (2009)
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013)
- 1985: Best Documentary Film, Global Village Film Festival: India Cabaret
- 1986: Golden Athena, Athens International Film Festival: India Cabaret
- 1986: Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival: India Cabaret
- 1988: Audience Award, Cannes Film Festival: Salaam Bombay!
- 1988: Golden Camera (Best First Film), Cannes Film Festival: Salaam Bombay!
- 1988: National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi: Salaam Bombay!
- 1988: National Board of Review Award for Top Foreign Films: Salaam Bombay!
- 1988: "Jury Prize", "Most Popular Film" and "Prize of the Ecumenical Jury" at Montreal World Film Festival: Salaam Bombay!
- 1988: New Generation Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
- 1988: Lilian Gish Award (Excellence in Feature Film), Los Angeles Women in Film Festival: Salaam Bombay!
- 1991: Golden Osella (Best Original Screenplay), Venice Film Festival: Mississippi Masala (with Sooni Taraporevala)
- 1991: Critics Special Award, São Paulo International Film Festival: Mississippi Masala
- 1992: Best Director (Foreign Film), Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Mississippi Masala
- 1992: Asian Media Award, Asian American International Film Festival
- 1993: Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature: Mississippi Masala
- 2000: Special Mention (Documentary and Essay), Biarritz International Festival of Audiovisual Programming: The Laughing Club of India
- 2001: Golden Lion (Best Film), Venice Film Festival: Monsoon Wedding
- 2001: Laterna Magica Prize, Venice Film Festival: Monsoon Wedding
- 2002: Audience Award, Canberra International Film Festival: Monsoon Wedding
- 2002: Special Award for International Cinema, Zee Cine Awards: Monsoon Wedding
- 2002: UNESCO Award, Venice Film Festival: 11'9"01 September 11
- 2004: Faith Hubley Web of Life Award, Rochester-High Falls International Film Festival
- 2007: "Golden Aphrodite", Love is Folly International Film Festival (Bulgaria): The Namesake
- 2012 ; Padma Bhushan by Govt. of India
- 1989: Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: Salaam Bombay!
- 1989: César Award for Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger): Salaam Bombay!
- 1989: Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film: Salaam Bombay!
- 1990: BAFTA Film Award Best Film not in the English Language: Salaam Bombay!
- 1990: Filmfare Best Director Award: Salaam Bombay!
- 1990: Filmfare Best Movie Award: Salaam Bombay!
- 1991: Golden Lion (Best Film), Venice Film Festival: Mississippi Masala
- 1996: Golden Seashell, San Sebastián International Film Festival: Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love
- 1999: Best Film, Verzaubert International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival: My Own Country
- 2001: Screen International Award (Best Non-European Film), European Film Awards: Monsoon Wedding
- 2001: Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film: Monsoon Wedding
- 2002: BAFTA Film Award Best Film not in the English Language: Monsoon Wedding
- 2003: Chlotrudis Award for Best Director: Monsoon Wedding
- 2003: Golden Star, International Film Festival of Marrakech: Hysterical Blindness
- 2003: César Award for Best Film from the European Union: 11'9"01 September 11
- 2004: Golden Lion (Best Film), Venice Film Festival: Vanity Fair
- 2007: Gotham Award for Best Film: The Namesake
Further reading 
- Jigna Desai: Beyond Bollywood: The cultural politics of South Asian diasporic film. New York: Routledge, 2004, 280 pp. ill. ISBN 0-415-96684-1 (inb.) / ISBN 0-415-96685-X (hft.)
- Gita Rajan: Pliant and compliant: colonial Indian art and postcolonial cinema. Women. Oxford (Print), ISSN 0957-4042 ; 13(2002):1, pp. 48–69.
- Alpana Sharma: Body matters: the politics of provocation in Mira Nair's films. QRFV : Quarterly review of film and video, ISSN 1050-9208 ; 18(2001):1, pp. 91–103.
- Pratibha Parmar: Mira Nair: filmmaking in the streets of Bombay. Spare rib, ISSN 0306-7971; 198, 1989, pp. 28–29.
- Gwendolyn Audrey Foster: Women Filmmakers of the African and Asian Diaspora: Decolonizing the Gaze, Locating Subjectivity. Carbondale, Ill. : Southern Illinois University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8093-2120-3
- John Kenneth Muir: Mercy in Her Eyes: The Films of Mira Nair. Hal Leonard, 2006. ISBN 1-55783-649-3, ISBN 978-1-55783-649-6.
- Spelling, Ian (1 September 2004). "Director likes to do her own thing". Waterloo Region Record. pp. C4.
- Crossette, Barabara (23 December 1990). "Homeless and Hungry Youths of India". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- Mira Nair is India Abroad Person of the Year 2007 News, Rediff.com, 29 March 2008.
- Mira Nair Gets Padma Bhushan News, Reuters.com, 25 January 2012.
- "Mira Nair's works to be screened at IFFI 2010". NDTV. Press Trust of India. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- Anna Whitney (10 September 2001). "Indian director is first woman to win Golden Lion". The Independent (London). Retrieved 8 December 2009.
- Maisha Film Lab
- Borpujari, Utpal (1 December 2004). "Mira Nair rejected Harry Potter offer". Deccan Herald. DH News Service. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- Sreenivasan, TP (3 November 2006). "The Namesake is excellent". Rediff. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- Bollywood to honour Mira Nair with 'Pride of India' award Hindustan Times, 23 April 2007.
- "Mira Nair, Asha Parekh honoured at Bollywood awards in New York". Malaysia Sun. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
- Mira Nair’s latest film project takes the message to Indian cinema halls
- "Migration". Jaman. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- " 'Amelia' (2009): Reviews." Metacritic.
- " 'Amelia' Reviews, Pictures." Rotten Tomatoes, IGN Entertainment.
- Debesh Bannerjee (8 December 2009). "'Politeness can kill you in movies'". Screen. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
- Faculty Columbia University School of the Arts
- Solomon, Deborah (29 August 2004). "All's Fair". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
- Namesake Interview News, Rediff.com, 21 March 2007.
- Mira Nair interview with International Herald Tribune
- Miller, Winter (18 March 2007). "Personal Sound Effects: A Night Out with Mira Nair". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Mira can't wait to start Shantaram". Rediff. 29 November 2007. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- Vashi, Ashish (1 November 2009). "Hollywood says ILU to Gujarati". Times of India. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- "8 Official website". Retrieved 25 November 2010.
- Taraporevala, Sooni; Mira Nair (1989). Salaam Bombay!. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-012724-0.
- Sloan, Jane (2007). Reel women. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-5738-3.
- "Padma Awards". pib. 27 January 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mira Nair|
- Mira Nair Bibliography (via UC Media Resources Center Berkeley)
- SAWNET biography
- Mira Nair at the Internet Movie Database
- Maisha Film Lab in Kampala, Uganda
- Video Interview on LX.TV
- A Conversation with Mira Nair - Harvard @ Home program
- Profile of Mira Nair - on MirabaiFilms.com
- Video interview with The Namesake director on Sidewalks Entertainment
- Video: Mira Nair at the Asia Society, 10 Dec. 2009
- Mira Nair: A Life in Pictures, BAFTA event video
- The Fabulous Picture Show (part 1, part 2) - Master Class with Mira Nair at the Doha film festival, Al Jazeera English, Dec 2009