The Indian film director, actor and producer Mira Nair has based her latest film on a best selling Booker shortlisted novel by Mohsin Hamid published in 2007, turning The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) into an intriguing and thought provoking political thriller. It deals with the thorny subject of how America approaches global terrorism through an interview that takes place in an atmospheric Lahore Tea House between Pakistan born Changez Khan and an American CIA agent masquerading as a journalist who thinks his interviewee knows the location of a kidnapped American lecturer whose life seems to be in imminent danger. Khan, played by British born Pakistan actor Riz Ahmed, relates his story to the ‘journalist’ Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber) telling how he left his home country to study in America and consequently becoming a high achiever whose success at Princeton and on Wall Street lands him a highly lucrative job in a New York consulting firm under the tutorship of high flying Jim Cross (Kiefer Sutherland) and in the process lands himself a beautiful girlfriend Erica (a miscast Kate Hudson) whose father happens to be a partner in the firm where he works. Manhattans Twin towers are demolished in a terrorist attack and Changez Khan’s American dream is soured opining ‘the ruthlessness of the act was suppressed only by its genius. David had stuck Goliath’ compelling him to return to Pakistan where he takes up a post as a University Lecturer.
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The movie offers an apt example of how American prejudice after 9/11 can radicalise a law biding hard working Muslim and make him question where and with whom his loyalties lie. The humiliating treatment and the pressure put on these people can help fuel the ever-burning flames of extremism and often rebound’s on the oppressors. As I said previously an intriguing movie with a gradually build up using an intelligent narrative ploy of showing Khan backstory in detail which makes us, the viewer appreciate the difficulties that a young man of Changez Khan ethnic origin has to face in the ‘modern’ world. In this story of divided loyalties, which was filmed in four countries, Riz Armed gives his strongest lead performance to date following on from films which have included Shifty (2008), Four Lions (2010) Trishna (2011) and ill Manors (2012).