The Reluctant Fundamentalist (film)
|The Reluctant Fundamentalist|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mira Nair|
|Produced by||Lydia Dean Pilcher|
|Written by||Mohsin Hamid
|Screenplay by||William Wheeler
|Based on||The Reluctant Fundamentalist
by Mohsin Hamid
|Music by||Michael Andrews|
|Editing by||Shimit Amin|
|Studio||The Mirabai Films
Doha Film Institute(DFI)
|Distributed by||IFC Films
IPA Asia Pacific distributors
|Running time||130 minutes|
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a 2012 political thriller drama film based on the 2007 novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, directed by Mira Nair, starring Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson in lead. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a post-9/11 film, a movie about the impact on one man of the al-Qaida attacks and the American reaction to them.
In 2007, Nair read the manuscript of Hamid's unpublished novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. After reading it, she immediately decided to make a film, from her own production house Mirabai Films and Nair's long-time partner, producer Lydia Dean Pilcher production company Cine Mosaic, the two optioned the film rights to the novel. The Film is produced by Lydia and co-produced by freelance screenwriter Ami Bogani, Hansi Farsi, Anadil Hossain and US producer Robin Sweet. The estimated budget of the film is $15 million, adjusted for inflation. The film was a major box office flop, earning only $2.1 million worldwide.
The film premiered as the opening film for the 69th Venice International Film Festival, and at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival. The film had a limited release in the United States, India, and in Europe and North America. In Pakistan, the film was released in Urdu with a changed title as Changez on May 24, 2013. In Africa, the Film will premiere in Kampala, Uganda on August 24, 2013. The Film also screened at the 31st Munich International Film festival. Upon its release, the film received mixed reviews from critics.
Lahore, 2011. The American professor Anse Rainier (Gary Richardson) at Lahore University is kidnapped following attending the cinema. A ransom video is sent to the local newspaper demanding release of 690 detainees from a Muslim concentration camp in Kot Lakhpat and €700,000 for the children of Waziristan. An American journalist and undercover CIA informant in Pakistan, Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber), arranges to interview in a café a colleague of Rainer, Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), he suspects being involved in the kidnapping.
Changez starts off the interview calling attention to his admiration in the US for the equal playing field in economic advancement. He is from the higher echelon of people that increasingly find themselves left out of the economic progress. His father is a famous poet (Om Puri) and housewife (Shabana Azmi), and is only able to attend when he gets a scholarship to Princeton University. Employment follows graduation at a top Wall Street valuation firm, Underwood Samson. Before starting he chance meets an American photographer, Erica (Kate Hudson) in Central Park. They chance meet up again at a party at the house of Max, an associate of his boss Jim Cross (Kiefer Sutherland) and a relationship develops.
The World Trade Center attacks take place when Changez is in Manila on business and on entry to the US is subjected to a strip search in New York. Both his attitude toward the US seems to change as well as his relationship with Erica who has yet to come to terms with her loss of a boyfriend before meeting Changez.
While valuating a publisher in Istanbul, Changez finds it worthless but then discovers they have translated into Turkish and published some of his father's work so he realizes that the company has preserved culture which cannot be measured merely in terms of money thus unable to fire the publisher. So, he resigns from Underwood Samson despite the protestations of Cross and ends his relationship with Erica.
Being a foreigner without job and a work visa to end in two weeks he returns to Lahore where he finds that foreign professors are leaving the University en masse so is hired to lecture. He voices dissatisfaction with US intrusion in Pakistan which brings attention to him by suspected Al-Qaida members, raiding of his office and family home and threats to his family.
While Lincoln and Changez talk in the café protestors gather outside and Lincoln gets periodic pressure from the CIA to get information from Changez about the location of kidnapped Rainier. The protests become increasing hostile, Changez offers that he has heard of a butcher shop but contact is lost before the information can be phoned to the CIA operatives that are with the assistance of Pakistani officers coming to extract Lincoln.
Lincoln becomes suspicious seeing Changez texting, the latter saying he was communicating with his family. Lincoln believes the only way to safety is to use Changez as a shield venturing into the hostile crowded street. Attempts are made to keep the crowd stable but things get worse and Lincoln falls to the ground, his gun goes off and hits Sameer (Imaad Shah), one of Changez's militant students. A militant sniper shots Lincoln. The CIA remove Lincoln who then finds out that Rainer died earlier that day and Changez offered to work with the CIA; the text message he sent was to his sister, Bina (Meesha Shafi).
Changez delivers a eulogy at Sameer's funeral as Lincoln recuperates in hospital, recalling Changez's words - "Looks can be deceiving. I am a lover of America .... although I have been raised to be very Pakistani."
- Riz Ahmed as Changez, a Princeton Graduate businessman working at financial firm Underwood Samson and the film's main protagonist.
- Kate Hudson as Erica, an aspiring writer and photographer.
- Liev Schreiber as Bobby Lincoln, an American Journalist and CIA Informer.
- Kiefer Sutherland as Jim Cross, a Managing Director on Wall Street and a mentor of Changez.
- Om Puri as Abu, a retired officer and famous poet of Lahore, and the father of Changez.
- Shabana Azmi as Ammi, a housewife and the mother of Changez.
- Meesha Shafi as Bina, an actress, singer, and the sister of Changez.
- Martin Donovan as Ludlow Cooper, a CIA Officer and investigator.
- Adil Hussain as Mustafa Fazil, a Muslim Activist and Mujahid.
- Imaad Shah as Sameer, an academic militant at Lahore University and activist.
- Chandrachur Singh as Bandy Uncle.
- Ashwath Bhatt as Junaid
- Haluk Bilginer as Nazmi Kemal
- Nelsan Ellis as Wainwright
- Christopher Nicholas Smith as Mike Rizzo
- Victor Slezak as Underwood
- Clayton Landey as Agent Jackson
- Mark Oliver as an Immigration Officer
- Steven Kulesza as Shredder #1
- Kevin Miller as Shredder #2
- Sonya Jehan as Nadia
- Gary Richardson as an American professor
|"Well, actually the first bolt of inspiration to make this film came not from the novel, but two years before I read the novel, when I was invited to go to Pakistan for the first time in 2004. I wanted to immediately make a film about contemporary Pakistan because it was so different from what your read about in the newspaper, Or what you don't read about, really, in the papers. So, that was the first inspiration. The book was given to me – by a friend – in manuscript in early 2007. I immediately felt that this was a springboard I could use to make not just this portrait of contemporary Pakistan, but a dialogue with America. I wanted very much to make a film that was enriched; that reached out to the other side and your hand was open, instead of having it drawn inwards. That was my thinking. What I loved about the possibility of the story was that it was essentially a coming of age story, set in a global, complicated, interconnected world was unusual."|
|— Mira Nair talking about The Reluctant Fundamentalist|
In mid-2011, IFC Films owns the copyrights and start working on a project, Mirabai Films and Cine Mosaic film serve as a lancer companies for the film. The film is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher with the collaboration of Saudi born London businessmen, Pilcher and Nair sought full creative control and secured a development partner in Hani Farsi, Saudi-born, London-based, cinema-loving entrepreneur, who was beginning a foray into the film business. By the end of 2009, Farsi's company, Corniche Pictures, agreed to finance the writing of the screenplay and a production plan. Pilcher admits it was a challenge to finance a film whose beating heart is the complicated character of Changez. Armed with a screenplay, Pilcher and Nair met with numerous financiers, distributors and sales agents. They met with the Doha Film Institute at the 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Festival. They loved the screenplay and committed to providing the first cornerstone of equity. Pilcher continued to look for partners. "A British financier of award-winning films was pressuring me to lower the budget," the producer remembers. "I told him it was very difficult to further reduce costs without sacrificing the scope. We really needed to include the four countries we were aspiring to be in. His response was, 'I don't care if you shoot in Rockaway Beach darling, let's face it, your leading man is a Pakistani Muslim.' In a business where world sales estimates set the stage, we were fighting an uphill battle in terms of risk."
Encouraged by Indian editor and director Shimit Amin, who was teaching at Nair’s film school in Kampala, Nair and Pilcher forensically parsed down the budget, taking decisions such as to shoot digitally and to save around $1M by doing the post work in India. Amin would go on to become the film’s editor. Doha Film Institute eventually went to on to fully finance the film, believing in the strength of its story, and the profound and important message it conveys. "The substance and the form of the film are very closely linked", says Mohsin Hamid. "It is a collaborative effort from people from all over the word, from America, from India, from Pakistan, coming together to create this artistic vision. The film believes in the possibility of that connection and expresses it by respecting the differences of the characters. It’s not a condemnation of either Pakistan or America. It shows the world as a complicated place, where centrifugal forces are trying to push the world apart. By humanizing the characters, we are attempting to bring the world back together." The dynamic international filmmaking team included the Irish-American cinematographer Declan Quinn, American composer Michael Andrews, Indian editor Shimit Amin, Indian costumer designer Arjun Bhasin, British production designer Michael Carlin, South African script supervisor Robyn Aronstam, and Indian and American sound designers, Patri Satish Kumar and David Paterson, respectively. Local crews were hired in Atlanta, New York, Delhi, Lahore and Istanbul. "My visual influences are vast and eclectic," Nair offers, "from the muted colors of the great painter Amrita Shergil to the graphic geometry of urban landscapes photographed by Andreas Gursky to the avant-garde architectural vision of my dear friends Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio. I am interested in creating a visual language for the phenomenon of globalization, which forces the energy of order and chaos to be viewed in the same frame. Indeed, the movie is created and shaped by a director who is of both the East and the West, and who loves them both. “The Battle Of Algiers is a huge inspiration to me," Nair reveals. "Both sides of the tale, the French and the Algerian, are equally nuanced, conceived with intelligence, pain and love. That is what I wanted for The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The world is a complicated place. I wanted to take joy in the differences, to love them and not compromise them."
Casting of film includes, Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber and Kiefer Sutherland in main wide roles, Mira nair in an interview said "The most important thing always, for me, was casting Changez, It was a very tough role to be able to inhabit with finesse, familiarity and elegance." The search took around one and a half years and was conducted through several continents. "I find the combination of machismo and beauty in Pakistani men quite alluring," says Nair. "So I was counting on a charismatic Pakistani actor, or certainly a sub-continental one, someone who could move fluidly between the languages and disparate worlds with truthful ease, and have the skill to carry the movie on his shoulders. I wanted someone to swoon over," she admits. Mira whittled the list down to two actors in Pakistan, one in Lahore, the other in Karachi, however, "visas for them were absolutely impossible, which meant I had to visit them there,which was very arduous," Nair explains. "Also we couldn't test them with the actress for Erica in New York." The challenges became insurmountable and by December 2010, in London en route to Paris on a financing trip, Nair and Pilcher engaged English casting director Susie Figgis. She suggested Riz Ahmed, a British actor and rapper, who is gaining a reputation as an articulate and intelligent rising star, thanks to roles in independent films such as Shifty, The Road to Guantanamo and Four Lions. Mira said: "We called him, he was in the recording studio but dropped everything and came over,” says Nair, who had only seen Ahmed in Four Lions. "I gave him the scene with his father at the wedding and I said, just read it. It was a cold reading but because of the time he just had to do it. And he did. It was so moving because he understood what Changez had done to his father. He understood shame and he understood honor. Those things are hard to explain. And the role was his immediately.", Kate Hudson was eager to play the role of Erica. However, when Hudson and Nair first met, in early 2011, the actress was pregnant with her second child, and it was clear the timing wouldn't work. "We really fell in love with each other,” says the director. “We hung out for hours, which is something I never do. And then we went through many others and Kate kept sending me love notes. Then we got delayed and the baby came and she was available. It was meant to be. By then I had cast Riz.”
Principal photography begins its ambitious production in Atlanta on September 17, 2011. Shooting starts from atlanta and then moved in New York for five days of exterior work, the production then moved to Delhi for two months, working with many of Nair’s crew from her 1988 debut film, Salaam Bombay! Nair and Pilcher had initially wanted to shoot in Lahore, which Nair describes as very similar to the Delhi of 50 years ago. Mira said: "However, we were not able to get insurance to film with our US cast and crew in Pakistan, so we focused on recreating Lahore in Old Delhi," Pilcher explains. "We were able to hire a production company in Lahore who shot second-unit images per detailed conversations with Mira and Declan, and that film was processed in Bangkok." Mira create Lahore in Old Delhi at Anglo-Arabic Islamic School right in the heart of Old Delhi which dates back to the 16th century.Production Designer Michael Carlin said: "The school occupies the site of an old Mughal palace and houses a beautiful red sandstone mosque from the late Mughal period. Here, in the heart of Old Delhi, we could build our street for the exterior teahouse and utilize the skyline of Old Delhi to stand in for Lahore. Even better, by lining up our set next to the school gates we could connector 'backlot' set to the hectic junction of Ajmeri Gate and connect it to the 'real' world outside." filma also shoot in Istanbul Pilcher said: "In the novel, the pivotal scenes with the publisher are set in Chile. We chose to locate these scenes in Istanbul, which offered us greater proximity for production. Also, Istanbul is very significant in terms of being a place where east meets west."
The entire shooting Locations of the film were, Lahore, Delhi, New York, Atlanta, Georgia, Istanbul, Chile and Manila. Most of the film Shoots in Delhi and America as per the requirements of scenes and assembling units.
Novel adaptation as a film
|"I happened to read the book in manuscript. It was the perfect thing - modern-day Lahore. The journey of Changez, who dreams of America, who achieves it and loves it, and decides on a different course of action [after 9/11]. These genuine conversations - a world I know intimately. Of course, a movie is a movie, so the book gave me this template. I amplified the family, created the sister, really made what I call a human thriller, in its structure. You do not want to leave the theater until you find out what happened."|
|— Mira Nair |
While finishing The Namesake, in New York in 2007, Nair read the manuscript of Hamid’s unpublished novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. She found it immensely readable and was thrilled to have found a springboard from which to enter the worlds of both modern-day Lahore and New York. Through her own Mirabai Films and Pilcher’s New York-based Cine Mosaic, the two optioned the film rights to the novel. In an interview she said: "It was to be a very complex adaptation and I wanted to be very involved, The book is basically a monologue. The thriller element is there but in a very elegant and psychological way. The ending is more ambiguous." The character of the American, played by Liev Schreiber, needed to be fleshed out into a living and breathing character. "He had to have an equal intelligence, and as much grace and longing and pain as Changez," says Nair in an interview. What resonated with Hamid about Nair was that she profoundly and intuitively understood his novel. "I really clicked with her as a person," Hamid says. "She is someone who comes from southern Asia and has spent many years here but has lived abroad for almost half her life. I am the same." Hamid came to the US to study at Princeton University, then lived in London for several years before returning to Lahore; Nair left India to attend Harvard University, and subsequently moved to New York. Hamid recalls when Nair told him she was going to add a third act to the story of his novel. "The book deals with the character of Changez going to America and then coming back to Pakistan. Mira wanted to have more of what happens in Pakistan, and the context for the conversation with the American, which is just hinted at in the novel." This addition was the first significant departure from the novel. "My main sense was that Mira is a filmmaker and knows what she is doing," says Hamid. "If a film, her film, needs to be this way I was going to trust her on that."
Nair and Pilcher looked closer to home, to the young writer Ami Boghani, who has worked closely with Nair for years, and to Mohsin Hamid, who had never even read a screenplay before joining the writing team. He said: "I was hesitant", "Partly because I was writing my novel.Partly because I thought this was Mira’s film. I wanted to enjoy it as a well wisher but I didn't want to get into the conflicts that I thought would be inevitable if we were having to argue out the details of how things should work. But then I kept telling myself the film is inspired by the novel, but it isn't the novel on screen. Once I embraced that way of looking at things, it became much easier to become involved. I also thought it would be a good learning experience. I would become more familiar with this art form I know very little about." Two drafts were written over two and a half years. The team put much of the script’s foundation in place.
"What we found was that to write a thriller was not an easy thing" says Nair. "We needed someone more adept at that. We found Bill Wheeler through a screenplay we all admired. The four of us spent a week together and mapped out the journey. Bill then wrote a series of drafts." The final of screenplay in a collaborative process, the writing team decided that like the novel, the story would shift between two time frames, but unlike the novel, the present-day story would be a fully fleshed out espionage story with a beginning, a middle and an end. This required the invention of several new elements: the kidnapping of Anse Rainier, the presence of an American intelligence unit in Lahore, and most importantly, the character of Bobby Lincoln—the cinematic equivalent to the unnamed American in Mohsin’s novel.” Wheeler says, “Giving Bobby just and reasonable arguments for the U.S. presence in Pakistan, while maintaining the power of Changez’s critique of that presence, his experience in Underwood Samson and the U.S. overall, would (we hoped) allow an audience to engage the material through their own perspective. Working with partners from such varied cultural backgrounds made our collaboration an attempt, like that of Changez and Bobby, to reach across cultural divides to try and discover the things that make us all human."
The soundtrack Album for Reluctant Fundamentalist was composed by Michael Andrews, on selecting Andrew she said: "I called him up from Delhi. We didn't waste time and were very direct. I asked him how far east he had traveled and he said, ‘San Diego!’ And I just started laughing." he layered the film’s score with traditional Pakistani songs.
Urdu poetry set to music, cutting-edge Pakistani pop, funk and rap, vocals from Amy Ray of folk group the Indigo Girls, and a new original song from Peter Gabriel, an old friend of Nair’s. The film uses an eight minute duet called "Kangna", sung by Ayaz and Mohammed for opening scene. Faiz Ahmed Faiz poetry based songs were used in this film by director and performed by Atif Aslam and Michael Andrews(English lyrics), Mira said: His poems are put to music and we composed new versions of his poems. I went back to Pakistan and found Atif Aslam, the Kanye West of Pakistan, who is the nation’s biggest pop star."
Composing Music for such film Andrews said: "She has great relationships with folks in the region, and because I was so far away, Mira took care of it. I sent her my music to be overdubbed with melodies represented and she actually recorded bansuri flute, and also took care of the vocal on "Mori Araj Suno." Simultaneously, I added Alam Khan, Ali Akbar’s son, and Salar Nadir. Then I put the tracks under the vocal and the orchestra under the mock-up and real bansuri." This all took place over the Internet, through endless uploading and downloading.'Most of our discussions took place after Mira had worked a 16-hour day,'"
Soundtrack of movie lauded with various artist, Michael serve as a primary artist of the Music but some of the song and music composed by others. Atif Aslam, Fareed Ayaz, Fahad Humayun, Abu Muhammad and Amy ray also serve as a singers and secondary composers to the album.Nair cast the popular Pakistani singer, Meesha Shafi, to play the role of Changez’s sister in film, who sings, “Bijli Aaye Ya Na Aaye.”.
The soundtrack was released on digital download from Amazon on April 30, 2013. Internationally Knitting Factory has released a soundtrack album for the thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist. In India Universal Music Group India hold the rights to release the music. Both physical and digital formats of album is released on 30 April 2013 onwards exclusively on Universal Music.
IFC Films and Cathay-Keris Films co-financed The Reluctant Fundamentalist, with IFC Films handling the North American distribution and Cathay handling the international release. The film had its premieres at 69th Venice International Film Festival and at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival in late 2012. In Venice, Nair said she hoped the film reflected the fact that "the modern Pakistan is nothing like what you read in the papers" and that she hoped to bring "some sense of bridge-making, some sense of healing, basically a sense of communication that goes beyond the stereotype".
The film screened in festivals in the United States, Denmark, Venice, Toronto, London, Sweden, and Munich in early 2013. It was released in the United States on April 26, 2013, in India and Canada on May 17, 2013, and in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2013. In Pakistan, the film was released in Urdu as Changez on May 24 by Express Entertainment.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist earned $30,920 in its opening weekend in limited release in the United States, and went on to gross a total of $528,731. Its worldwide gross was $2,142,792. In India, the film was released in 300 theaters by PVR Limited and grossed $273,299. In its opening weekend in Sweden, the gross was $12,286.
|"TENSE, THOUGHTFUL and TRULY INTERNATIONAL in BREADTH and DEPTH"|
|— Richard Corliss of Time Magazine rated the movie 4 out of 5|
The Reluctant Fundamentalist received positive to average reviews from the critics ranging from all over the websites. J.R. Jones of Chicago Reader says "This sure-handed adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's international best seller shows Nair at her best".
On review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an overall 55% "rotten" rating based on 93 reviews, including 51 fresh and 42 rotten with the rating average of 6.1 out of 10. The website reported critical consensus as "The Reluctant Fundamentalist is technically proficient with solid acting and cinematography” and lauded the film as "its message is so ambitious and heavy-handed that some of its power is robbed." Vaihayasi Pande Daniel for Rediff.com has given 3.5/5 stars and says "The Reluctant Fundamentalist has its cinematic moments but is too simplistic in places". At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 0–100 reviews from film critics, the film has ratings score of 54, based on 28 reviews, classified as a generally favorably reviewed film. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian gave it 3/5 stars, commented "Its message might be flabby, but Mira Nair's adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's novel is still a bold piece of global storytelling". 'Rummana Ahmed from Yahoo! Movies gave a score of 4/5 and said "Mira Nair takes on the daunting task of adapting Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and skillfully transforms a monologue into an engaging plot. She weaves an elaborate tale, infusing it with warmth and texture." Damon Wise of Empire Magazine rate the film as unmissable with full 5/5 star and generally rated 3/5 and says "Ahmed excels and the set-up is compelling but ultimately this is middle rank stuff from the Monsoon Wedding director". Mohar Basu of Koimoi rated also 3 out 5 and says: "What’s Good: The film preserves the mood of Mohsin Hamid’s book well. What’s Bad: A jerky screenplay ruptures the film’s flow multiple times all through. Watch or Not?: Mira Nair’s repertoire glistening with gems like Namesake and Monsoon Wedding is enough to evoke interest. However, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is not even close to being among her best works. With issues left unexplored and characters abandoned abruptly, the film is a desirable watch only for the landmark performance of Riz Ahmed and the grace with which he builds his character."
Mira Nair for The Reluctant Fundamentalist won the Peace Award at the 2013 German Film Awards and she won the 1st Century Award at International Film Festival of India 2013. IFC Films won Truly Moving Picture award at the 2013 Heartland Film Festival. Mira also won the Favorite World Feature award at 2012 Mill Valley Film Festival.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist previously was available on demand by IFC Films, New York. The film will be released on DVD and on Blu Ray on August 27, 2013 in United States and Canada and will be released in United Kingdom on September 9, 2013 by IFC Films who hold the film rights for international release. Extended version of film with 20 minutes of extra bondage scenes will be included.
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