This article first appeared here.
The world premiere of the international political thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist will launch the 69th Venice Film Festival come August 29th. The film is based on the best-selling novel by renowned Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid. It is about a young Pakistani man who chances corporate success on Wall Street, but becomes embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the call of his family’s homeland. The feature film faces heavy competition from many other promising films at the festival. It stars Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Meesha Shafi, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Martin Donovan, Om Puri, and Shabana Azmi. The film is directed by Mira Nair.
The novel became an international best-seller. It reached number four on the New York Times Best Seller list. BBC Radio 4 began broadcasting an abridged version on 22 August 2011, read by British actor Riz Ahmed who also plays the protagonist in the film, Changez. Judging by the synopsis of the film provided by the Venice Film Festival, the film introduces some significant changes from the novel; such as the introduction of many new characters, and identification of some characters which were latent or implied in the novel itself.
“The festival’s opening night will feature a film that provides much food for thought. It is a choice that intends to highlight the growing role of female creativity in all spheres of culture and contemporary society,” said Alberto Barbera who was one of the jury members at the Cannes Film Festival in 1939 and the head in this year’s Venice Film Festival. This is Mira Nair’s fifth visit to the Venice Film Festival. She won the festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion for Monsoon Wedding in 2001. The 69th Venice Film Festival runs from August 29 till September 8.
With a dynamic cast of Pakistani, American, British, and Indian actors in lead roles, the film is surely of the most anticipated piece being featured in this year’s Venice Film Festival. The Venice Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Courtesy of the Venice Film Festival, following is the complete synopsis of The Reluctant Fundamentalist:
“Student demonstrations are raging in Lahore, as young Pakistani professor Changez Khan and a journalist, Bobby Lincoln, share a cup of tea and conversation. Princeton-educated Changez tells Lincoln of his past as a brilliant business analyst on Wall Street. He talks of the glittering future that lay before him and the beautiful and sophisticated Erica whom he was set to share that future with.
But then 9/11 changes everything. Attitudes shift dramatically – his very name and face rendering him suspect. Returning to his homeland and the family to whom he is very close, he takes up a post as lecturer at the local university, a hotbed of radicalism and the new militant academia.
The collegial pretense of the meeting in a Lahore teahouse, between Lincoln and Changez, slowly gives way to why the unlikely pair has gathered on a summer day — another professor has been kidnapped by extremists, and the clock is ticking toward a deadline for his execution. Changez’s family is being harassed and is in real danger. Bobby is there to listen, with an agenda of his own. As it is revealed that Lincoln is in the lions’ den with the CIA, we also learn that he has a personal stake in the immediate crisis at hand. Taking us through the culturally rich and beguiling worlds of New York, Lahore and Istanbul The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an exploration of prejudice and the phenomenon of globalization that is both exhilarating and deeply unsettling.”