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Reluctant American dreams

Reluctant American dreams
In the very week when another literary work metamorphoses into a movie, perhaps it makes more sense for Mira Nair to label her work as loosely based on Mohsin Hamid’s best-seller and settle for the night. When you add facts or characters – Nair, please make sure you do not add some unexplainable twist that puts readers (and now the audience) in a strange limbo.

With the basic premise revolving around Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed) left more or less intact,
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
pulls at your senses in a rather weird way. Like The Great Gatsby – the impossible American dream is being chased and the story goes on.

The novel had thrived on a sense of intrigue that is lost in the movie, sadly. But Nair gets the dilemma of choosing sides and being thrust on one very real. The clash of civilizations rage through the movie overflowing in reluctance when surely nothing more can be done. However, we rue the changes, amply.

Riz Ahmed is positively impressive as Changez. He brings the character alive in a lot of ways. He is the perfect brooding, bearded stranger in a cafe in Lahore who has some life-altering stories to tell. We expected more Luna Lovegood from Kate Hudson as Erica (sorry for the Potter reference) – Nair, at this point, takes more away from Changez than she provides. Well done!

It is impossible for me to not compare the movies this week – both Gatsby and Changez’s story is so absurdly same that hope is the long-buried American dream. The spirit of which inches in from the America of the 1920’s to 2001 under the watchful eyes of TJ Eckleberg, amidst the squalor. Changez seems to be the Gatsby had the bullet not found the millionaire. But perhaps Jay was always more hopeful. Fundamentalists are not.

The movie is brilliant in parts but loses steam in others. Not much of a loss if you have not read the book - but be prepared to be in limbo if you have.
Jhinuk Sen

Jhinuk Sen

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