She's about to board a flight and it's apparent from the background cacophony that she doesn't have much time left to talk. But talk, she does. Mira Nair was recently in Goa for the screening of her upcoming international film based on Mohsin Hamid's book The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
This particular project has been in the making for five years and will only have a commercial release next year. In a candid chat, Mira Nair speaks about being patient, her favourite actors and directing a Bollywood masala film.
Question: What was the biggest challenge you faced while making this film?
Mira Nair: Having earlier adapted books for Vanity Fair and The Namesake, I knew the obstacles that awaited us with Mohsin's novel. The biggest of them was probably the part where you want to have a global dialogue through the film's story. This translation takes humongous efforts in terms of time and creativity. The financial aspects can't be overlooked either because money is a constant struggle for a filmmaker.
Question: Talking of filmmakers, why aren't there more female directors?
Mira Nair: (Pauses) I don't know but if you ask me to compare Hollywood with Bollywood, I'd say women are in a better position in the latter part of the world. There are successful female directors, writers, lyricists and technicians here something I'm yet to come across in the West. We have role models here in every sphere, be it sports, politics or arts.
Question: Do you see yourself directing a masala Bollywood film after Monsoon Wedding?
Mira Nair: I think folks in the Hindi film industry are already doing a better job than I possibly can (laughs). Besides, it goes without saying that my body of work makes subtle references to Bollywood elements. I can do a lot of tamasha too on the big screen but with a slightly different vocabulary. As an Indian, you can't escape that. After all, I'm a proud desi!
Question: So you don't consider yourself an outsider...
Mira Nair: I don't bother with the tags. They keep changing from time to time. I try to continue doing what I'm good at. To answer your question, I don't consider myself as an outsider though it's obvious that Hollywood is where a major part of my work is done.
Question: Who are the Indian actors you'd like to work with?
Mira Nair: I'm already working with them (smiles). I like the kind of films Nawazuddin (Siddiqui), Shefali Shah, Richa Chadha and Rajkumar Yadav are doing. If I were to name one actor whom I'd like to work with any given time, it would be Naseeruddin Shah.
Question: Finally, will Shantaram (a film based on Gregory David Roberts's novel) happen?
Mira Nair: We're still working in that direction. As of now, I can tell you that the stage adaptation of Monsoon Wedding is happening for sure.