Friday, June 7, 2013

Reluctant Fundamentalist

I'm working on two acrylic paintings and yesterday I went to the Rivoli Cinema to see The Reluctant Fundamentalist ( Mira Nair, 2012). The films opens with a passionate Qawwali - Sufi devotional music, sung by a group of men at a Pakistani ritual and between views of them singing this haunting refrain, the director cuts to a scene of an academic being kidnapped in the city of Lahore. The film manages to maintain this balance (if you like) between art and violence (real and symbolic), insiders and outsiders, two worlds - America (in particular Wall Street where the primary protagonist works) and Pakistan where he was born; the ease and disease of Changez (Riz Ahmed) who is torn between his dreams of fame and fortune, possible only in America where (in his words) 'there is an equal playing ground', his love of both America and Pakistan, and being forced to assess his life post 9/11 in a climate in which Pakistani's were considered with much fear and suspicion. This is an interesting film that asks us to 'listen to the whole story, rather than parts of it'. I felt that the color, beauty and sounds of Pakistan - the stunning views and internal exquisite decoration of a blue Mosque, Atif Aslam’s rendition of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Mori Araj Suno, the amazing clothes and the devotional nature of the populous, seemed to render the glass towers and corporate life in America, by contrast, just a little bland.
Changez, a Stanford graduate and an individual fully inculcated into high finance is surrounded by the passion of others, and from the opening scene in which he walks away from the celebration, always appears on the edge of art and literature. His father is a published poet and yet Changez does not appear to understand the relationship between art and life, indeed he berates his new lover because she used photographs she'd taken of him and words they exchanged between themselves in her solo art exhibition - he does not understand the artistic sensibility of using events in your life as inspiration.
I enjoyed this film because of the contrasts and the struggle. I'd highly recommend it.

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