Will Ali Zafar be Mira Nair’s ‘Reluctant Fundamentalist’?

November 26, 2010

The Reluctant FundamentalistAli Zafar has auditioned to act in US-based Indian filmmaker Mira Nair’s adaptation of Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid’s bestseller literary piece, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The film will be produced by a Hollywood studio and will be shot in English.

Mira, the director of the film, has won a number of awards, including a National Film Award and various international film festival awards. She was a nominee at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards and Filmfare Awards. Her most recent films include: Vanity Fair with Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon, The Namesake, and Amelia. The famous Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan tasted international fame and success with Mira Nair’s film ‘The Namsake’. Will it be Ali Zafar’s chance this time to taste international fame with Mira Nair’s film adaption of critically acclaimed book, only time will tell.

Lahore-based author Mohsin Hamid’s novel was published in 2007, and deals with a Pakistani protagonist’s love affair with, and eventual abandonment of America.

The book had been published in 27 languages and was also shortlisted for the 2007 Booker Prize. It also won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the South Bank Show Annual Award for Literature, and several other awards. The Guardian selected it as one of the books that defined the decade. The novel became an international best-seller. It reached #4 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a sparse, gripping, short novel that tackles the complex issues of Islamic fundamentalism and America’s ‘war on terror’ with sympathy and balance.

Mira has revealed that she was drawn to the project for a very specific reason: “There have been many films made post-9/11 about the War, about Iraq, about Afghanistan, about this part of our world, also about terrorism… But they’re always seen from the Western point of view, almost never from our point of view. And this film seeks to look at that, but from this part of the world, from Pakistan’s perspective… About how America can be re-examined.” She has explained: “We always used to think that America was the dream, that was the promise, but this film seeks to look at what is happening in the world today in a different way.”

It explores the fear and suspicion that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “You,” an American, encounter a bearded Pakistani who has left behind a high-flying career and love affair in New York.

The director auditioned fresh faces and if the rumors are to be believed, other then Ali Zafar two known faces auditioned for the film are Rehan Khan and Pratik Babbar.

Apparently, couple of months back, Mira was keen on casting either Shahid or Ranbir Kapoor for the role in her upcoming yet-to-be titled film. Initially, when Ranbir rejected the offer, Shahid showed interest in the film as he found the script interesting and also did not want to lose the golden opportunity to work with the critically acclaimed filmmaker. Mira’s film revolves around a Pakistani man and she needed Shahid to have a bearded look for the character. However, when the time finally arrived to start shooting for Mira’s film, Shahid started dilly-dallying about the dates.

The source adds, “Mira wants to go on floors early next year with her film, and she saw no sign of Shahid of doing the film. Thus her team started auditioning for relatively fresh faces, which will suit the role for a Pakistani guy.”

Mira Nair relieved that Ranbir “has her love” but so do some strong contenders from Pakistan. She said, “Ranbir was very professional. He didn’t mind giving a screen test! There are 3 Pakistani actors who are strong contenders too but Ranbir has my love.”

Since the film will be shot in Pakistan, Ali Zafar seems to have an edge over Ranbir. If he gets this role the boy is bound to emerge bigger in the film market.

A coincidence or funny fact is that Ali Zafar has been linked for the third time with a film based on post 9/11 events and problems, first one being Khuda Kay Liye then Tere Bin Laden and now The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Now lets see if Ali Zafar gets the golden opportunity to work with such a critically acclaimed director.

Book Description:

It is a based on a character telling his story to an American in a traditional cafe/restaurant in old Lahore. He talks about his experience of studying and living in the States, speaking immaculate English. He draws comparisons between life in his native Lahore and New York where he lived during his stay in America.

His story is full of surprises as he presents a Pakistani young man totally different to the stereo-type of contemporary period. He tells with passion and vigour about his Western dream and love for Western woman and how both betrayed him. With the backdrop of 9/11 it is a book of sharp but impressive intelligent piece of work which should be read at first available opportunity.

At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting . . . Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. Top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by Underwood Samson, an elite firm that specializes in the ‘valuation’ of companies ripe for acquisition. He thrives on the energy of New York and the intensity of his work, and his infatuation with the elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. For a time, it seems as though nothing will stand in the way of Changez’s meteoric rise to personal and professional success. But in the wake of September 11, he finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez’s own identity undergoes a seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love. With echoes of Camus and Fitzgerald, this book is a riveting, devastating exploration of our divided yet ultimately indivisible world.

Information about the author:

Mohsin Hamid is a Pakistani author best known for his novels Moth Smoke (2000) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007). He grew up in Lahore, attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School and worked for several years as a management consultant in New York. His first novel, Moth Smoke, was published in ten languages, won a Betty Trask award, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

[Information Courtesy: Wikipedia]