The Reluctant Fundamentalist (film)

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Reluctant Fundamentalist poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mira Nair
Produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher
Written by Mohsin Hamid
Ami Boghani
Screenplay by William Wheeler
Rutvik Oza
Based on The Reluctant Fundamentalist 
by Mohsin Hamid
Starring Riz Ahmed
Kate Hudson
Liev Schreiber
Kiefer Sutherland
Music by Michael Andrews
Cinematography Declan Quinn
Edited by Shimit Amin
Distributed by IFC Films
Cathay-Keris Films
IPA Asia Pacific distributors
Rialto Pictures
Zon Audiovisuais
Release dates
  • August 29, 2012 (2012-08-29) (Venice Film Festival)
  • April 26, 2013 (2013-04-26) (United States)
  • May 24, 2013 (2013-05-24) (Pakistan)
Running time
130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1][2]
Box office $2,142,792[3]

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.[4] 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In 2007, Nair read the manuscript of Hamid's unpublished novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.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.[1][2] The film was a major box office flop, earning only $2.1 million worldwide.[3]

The film premiered as the opening film for the 69th Venice International Film Festival,[5][6] 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.[7] In Africa, the film premiered in Kampala, Uganda, on August 24, 2013. The film also screened at the 31st Munich International Film festival.[8] Upon its release, the film received mixed reviews from critics.

Nair won a favourite world feature award for the film in 2012 at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Nair won the German Film Award for Peace[9] as well as the IFFI Century Award.[10]


In 2011, Anse Rainier (Gary Richardson), an American professor at Lahore University, is kidnapped soon after he leaves a movie theatre. A ransom video is sent to the US embassy, demanding the release of 690 detainees from a Muslim concentration camp in Kot Lakhpat and €700,000 for the children of Waziristan. Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber), an American journalist and undercover CIA informant in Pakistan, arranges to interview a colleague of Rainer, Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), who he suspects is involved in the kidnapping.

Changez starts off the interview, held in a café, by declaring his admiration for the American equal playing field in economic advancement. He belongs to a class of people who, while genteel and educated, increasingly find themselves left out of economic progress. His father is an elderly poet and man of letters (played by Om Puri), who is respected by all who know him. Nevertheless, money has always been a serious problem in the family and Changez was only able to attend college when he got a scholarship to Princeton University. After graduation, he earned a job position at a top Wall Street valuation firm, Underwood Samson. Meanwhile, he met a young American photographer, Erica (Kate Hudson), and a relationship developed.

The World Trade Center attacks took place when Changez was in Manila on business. When he returned to the USA, he was strip-searched at the airport in New York. Later on, he was thoroughly interrogated by federal agents, after being mistakenly arrested in the street as he just left the Underwood Samson building. His attitude toward the USA seemed to change, as did his relationship with Erica, who had yet to come to terms with the loss of her former boyfriend, feeling responsible for his death. Changez eventually broke with her, after she invited him at the opening of her art show: she had used intimate details of their relationship without his knowledge, which he felt as an offense and a treason.

While valuating a publishing house in Istanbul, Changez discovered that the otherwise worthless firm had translated some of his father's work into Turkish and published them. He realized that the company had preserved culture, something that cannot be measured merely in terms of money. His boss at Underwood Samson, Jim Cross (Kiefer Sutherland), did not see it that way, viewing Changez's attitude as unprofessional. Feeling an ever increasing conflict between his desire of success and his sense of loyalty, between the way he saw himself and the way he was now treated, Changez finally resigned from Underwood Samson.

During his interview with Lincoln, Changez says that at one point he was approached by a terrorist cell and asked to become a mujahid, and he was tempted to accept, feeling deeply angered and disillusioned by "the arrogance, the blindness, the hypocrisy" of the USA, but he finally refused when he was told about the "fundamental truths" of the Q'uran, echoing a phrase Jim Cross had used during their first encounter, "focusing on the fundamentals". Elaborating on the similarities, he explains that both groups, Islamic fundamentalists and blind capitalist economy represented by Underwood Samson, share the same reductionist outlook, view people in binary terms, thus feeling entitled to get rid of those deemed unworthy.

Being a foreigner without a job, and with his work visa set to expire in two weeks, he returned to Lahore (Pakistan), where he found that foreign professors were leaving the university en masse. He was hired as a lecturer. He voiced dissatisfaction with US intrusions in Pakistan, and this brought him to the attention of the authorities as a suspected Al-Qaida member. They raided his office and family home and threatened his family.

Back to present day, 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 the kidnapped Rainier. The protests become increasingly hostile, and Changez says he has heard of a butcher shop. Contact is lost before the information can be phoned to the CIA operatives who are working with Lincoln.

Lincoln becomes suspicious seeing Changez texting, the latter saying he was just communicating with his sister, Bina (Meesha Shafi); suspicions turn to fury after Lincoln receives a picture of Rainer dead, mistakenly linking the two events. 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 student interns, who dies from the wound. Another student fires at Lincoln from a balcony, after which Lincoln is quickly removed by CIA agents. Lincoln then finds out that Rainer was in fact found dead earlier that day, and that Changez had indeed rejected working with the suspected mastermind behind the kidnapping, Mustafa Fazil; he also told the truth about the text message.

Changez delivers a eulogy at Sameer's funeral, as Lincoln recuperates in a hospital, recalling Changez's words as he listens to the recording of the interview - "Looks can be deceiving. I am a lover of America... although I was raised to feel very Pakistani."



The soundtrack album for The Reluctant Fundamentalist was composed by Michael Andrews, on selecting Andrews 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.

The album has Urdu poetry set to music, Pakistani pop, funk and rap music, vocals from Amy Ray of the folk group 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 the opening scene. Faiz Ahmed Faiz poetry based songs were used in the film 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."

On composing music for the 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 vocals 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 served as a primary artist of the Music but some of the song and music was composed by others. Atif Aslam, Fareed Ayaz, Fahad Humayun, Abu Muhammad and Amy ray also served as singers and secondary composers to the album. Nair cast the popular Pakistani singer, Meesha Shafi, to play the role of Changez’s sister who sings “Bijli Aaye Ya Na Aaye.”[23]

The soundtrack was released on digital download from Amazon on April 30, 2013.[24] Internationally Knitting Factory has released a soundtrack album for The Reluctant Fundamentalist.[25] In India Universal Music Group India hold the rights to release the music. Both physical and digital formats of the album were released on 30 April 2013 exclusively on Universal Music.[26]


Initial screening[edit]

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[27] and at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival[28] 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".[29]

Worldwide screening[edit]

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[30] 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.[31][32][33]


Box office[edit]

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 $2142792.[3] 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.[34][35]

Critical reception[edit]

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".[36]

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."[37] Vaihayasi Pande Daniel for gave 3.5/5 stars and says "The Reluctant Fundamentalist has its cinematic moments but is too simplistic in places".[38] 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.[39] 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".[40] '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."[41] 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".[42] 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[43] 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.[44] Mira also won the Favorite World Feature award at 2012 Mill Valley Film Festival.


  1. ^ a b "Crossing Dangerous Borders: Mira Nair on ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Indian director Mira Nair on ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’". Weekend Review. Retrieved July 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013) - International". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ Debesh Bannerjee (December 8, 2009). "'Politeness can kill you in movies'". Screen (magazine). Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  5. ^ Scarpa, Vittoria (July 23, 2012). "The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mira Nair opens the 69ths Venice Film Festival". Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Mira Nair's 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' Named Venice's Opening Film". Hollywood Reporter. 2012-07-22. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
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  10. ^ "Mira at IFFI in Goa". CNN-IBN. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Riz ahmed and mira nair take on Reluctant Fundamentalist". Collider. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Kate as Erica in reluctant fundamentalist". Jugni style. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Keifer as Jim Cross in reluctant fundamentalist". Hindustan Times. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Reluctant Fundamentalist: Casting Schreiber and Keife". 
  15. ^ "Keifer as Jim Cross in reluctant fundamentalist". collider. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Om Puri in The Reluctant Fundamentalist". BollywoodLife. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Om Puri in The Reluctant Fundamentalist". Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Shabana Azmi as ammi in reluctant fundamentalist". Hindustan Times. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Meesha shafi as bina in reluctant fundamentalist". Express Tribune. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 
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  21. ^ "Immad Shah in TRF". Screenindia. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Chandrachur Singh in TRF". Bollywoodlife. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
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  28. ^ "Toronto Premiere". Indiawire. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  29. ^ The Reluctant Fundamentalist opens Venice Film Festival BBC. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  30. ^ "TRF to be released in India". UK Asian. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Release of TRF in Pakistan". Pakistan Music Mind. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Theatrical trailer released in Pakistan". Dawn. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  33. ^ "film premier in Pakistan". Express Tribune. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Foreign gross of film". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  35. ^ "box office mojo UK response". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  36. ^ "The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013)". Hyland Cinema. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  37. ^ "The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  38. ^ Vaihayasi Pande Daniel. "Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a powerful film you may not agree with". Rediff. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  39. ^ "The Reluctant Fundamentalist Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  40. ^ Peter Bradshaw (May 9, 2013). "The Reluctant Fundamentalist – review". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  41. ^ Rummana Ahmed (May 18, 2013). "Yahoo! India Movies Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  42. ^ "Damon wise review for reluctant fundamentalist". Empire Magazine. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  43. ^ "To be honored with german peace award 2013". Retrieved May 12, 2013. 
  44. ^ "To be honored with Heartland award 2013". Truly Moving Pictures. Retrieved March 12, 2013. 

External links[edit]