New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) inducts Mira Nair into its Hall of Fame

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A well deserved honor for the accomplished Orissa-born filmmaker.  Mira Nair was my introduction into Indian films in 1991, watching Mississippi Masala with a young Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury. I still love this movie. And I love Mira Nair, whose voice is bold, unapologetic and poetic at the same time. The Namesake is perhaps my favorite. I must have watched it 100 times over.  Mira Nair work covers two continents, the merging of cultures, ancient and new.  She weaves together the different tapestries, but her heart beats to the tabla and sings to the sitar.

Congrats, Mira Nair!!






NYFA Hall of Fame Benefit
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) is proud to announce that author and co-director of the Acquavella Gallery Michael Findlay, composer Elliot Goldenthal, filmmaker Mira Nair and visual artist Fred Wilson will be inducted into the NYFA Hall of Fame on Tuesday, April 23rd at Espace (635 West 42nd Street). The evening begins at 6:30 with a cocktail reception featuring interactive art by past and current NYFA grantees, followed by dinner and remarks from all the honorees. Tickets start at $500 and tables at $5,000; tickets for the Young Patrons After party, which begins at 9:30, are $250. Tickets and tables at all levels can be purchased at

The NYFA Hall of Fame was created to both honor the work of artists to whom NYFA provided critical support early in their careers and recognize philanthropists and patrons of the arts who have had an impact of the City’s cultural community. Past honorees include: Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio; Todd Haynes; Christian Marclay; Kathleen O’Grady; Suzan-Lori Parks; Wendy Perron; Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas, and Andres Serrano. Bios of 2013 inductees:

Michael Findlay (Patron of the Arts) is the Co-Director of Acquavella Galleries, which specializes in Impressionist and Modern European works of art and post-war American painting and sculpture. In 1973 Findlay helped organize an art auction at Sotheby Parke-Bernet to benefit survivors of the Nicaraguan earthquake and since then has been involved in many such fund-raising activities. As Vice President of the Art Dealers Association of America, Findlay assisted in the recent appeal that raised over a million dollars to benefit non-profit and commercial galleries devastated by Hurricane Sandy. His book The Value of Art was published by Prestel Publishing in 2012. Mr. Findlay will be introduced by visual artist Billy Sullivan.

Elliot Goldenthal (NYFA Fellow in Music Composition, 1989) creates works for orchestra, theater, opera, ballet and film. Most recently he scored Julie Taymor’s film version of The Tempest. In 2003, he was honored with the Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for the score to Taymor’s film Frida. In 2006, Goldenthal’s original two-act opera Grendel, directed by Taymor, premiered at the Los Angeles Opera and was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music. He was commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre to compose a three-act ballet of Othello, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in May 1997. Additionally, Goldenthal has been nominated for three Oscars, two Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards and two Tony Awards. Mr. Goldenthal will be introduced by soprano Jessye Norman.

Mira Nair (NYFA Fellow in Film, 1988) is the writer, director, and producer. At the University of Delhi she started out in the theater department acting, but turned to photography and eventually to documentary filmmaking at Harvard.

Mira Nair’s filmography
2013 Words with Gods (segment “God Room”) (post-production)

2009 Amelia

2009 New York, I Love You (segment “Mira Nair)

2008 8 (segment “How can it be?”)

2008/I Migration (short)

2002 September 11 (segment “India”)

2002 Hysterical Blindness (TV movie)

2001 The Laughing Club of India (TV documentary short)

1998 My Own Country (TV movie)

1987 Children of a Desired Sex (TV documentary)

1985 India Cabaret (TV documentary)

1983 So Far from India (documentary)

1979 Jama Masjid Street Journal (documentary)

The Reluctant Fundamentalist shimmies to Cannes

Mira Nair’s upcoming thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, presently in post-production, is  based on the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid. The novel is set taking place over the course of one evening in a cafe of Lahore,  in the post 9/11 era, where a bearded Pakistani called Changez approaches an unnamed American, joins him at his table and tells him his story.  The  narrative spans various continents, a love story and the impact 9/11 had on Changez’ and his friends lives, torn between the dream of a successful career on Wall Street and the love for his native country, Pakistan.

It stars Riz Ahmed as the protagonist Changez and Kate Hudson as Erica, his love interest.  Other cast members include Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber and Shabana Azmi. The movie is not part of the official selection but will show footage in Cannes.


interview with Mohsin Hamid




Lahore is Delhi 50 years ago: Mira Nair

Subhash K Jha, IANS Apr 16, 2012, 02.57PM IST
(Mira Nair )

Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair, who managed to shoot a part of her next project ” The Reluctant Fundamentalist” in Lahore, Pakistan, says the city, though unsafe to shoot in, was a “twin” to Indian capital New Delhi’s old world charm.

Nair managed to shoot in Lahore for four days, but had to shoot the remaining part in locations in New Delhi.

“We did succeed in shooting in Lahore for four days. But the remaining 20 days’ shooting for Lahore had to be done in Delhi,” said Nair, who admits the Pakistan schedule wasn’t a cakewalk.

“We had to do it with only a full Pakistani crew. It wasn’t safe to shoot there. But otherwise, such a beautiful, refined city and such a twin to Delhi! But Lahore is Delhi 50 years ago. So we had really look hard for a Delhi that isn’t so immediately visible to the eye,” she added.

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, based on Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid’s eponymous novel, narrates the transformation of a Princeton-educated Pakistani youth with a cushy American job and an American girlfriend.

Nair, who found international recognition with films like “Salaam Bombay”, “Monsoon Wedding”, ” Vanity Fair“, “The Namesake” and “Amelia”, hopes “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” gets released in Pakistan.

“I sure as hell hope it gets released in Pakistan. I mean I’m not too clear on political issues. But there’s a new liberalised trade policy between India and Pakistan. So if nothing else, at least we can hope to see the film gets released in Pakistan along with the rest of the world,” she said.

The US-based filmmaker says gets nostalgic as she talks about Pakistan.

“My father is from Lahore. I grew up with Pakistani culture all around me…qawwalis, shayari, the poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz,” she said, and added that she has also included a qawwali in her movie.

“I’ve put in a huge qawwali sequence in ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’… an original, traditional qawwali sung by Fareed Ayaz and Abu Mohamed. I grew up in Delhi, but I had Lahore all around me,” said Nair.

For now, she has immersed herself in the post-production work of the movie, which also features Shabana Azmi, in Mumbai.

“For the first time I am doing the post-production of my film in India, and it’s a blessing. It’s so economical,” said the filmmaker, who has roped in Shimit Amin of “Chak De! India” to edit the movie.

“To have Shimit Amin editing my film is a miracle. It’s amazing how I know him. I first invited him to come as artistic director and lecture in my film school in east Africa last summer.

“He happily came for two weeks to teach. I didn’t know him before that. But I loved his movies… I offered that he edit ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’.

“He said he’d love to edit my film. He’s total magic. And so egoless. He’s definitely making a film for me. I guess I’m lucky to get the right people on board,” she added.

Nair was recently also in Delhi to receive the Padma Bhushan award.

Currently in Mumbai, she is staying at her actress friend Shabana’s parental home in Janki Kutir, where Shabana’s mom, the formidable Shaukat Azmi stays.


Irrfan Khan par excellence



Great NYT interview with one of Bollywood’s most interesting and intriguing actors today: Irrfan Khan. Here in America, we know him from Mira Nair’s  brilliant movie The Namesake,  based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novelSlumdog Millionaire,  and In Treatment, where he delivered a powerful performance as Sunil, the reluctant patient. He was the heart and soul of that series in my view and I stopped watching after he left.

Irrfan Khan plays all his characters with complexity and non-chalance, with introspection and passion. There is nobody like him.  Selective in the roles he accepts, he will always surprise you, enchant you, transfix you.  He is my unsung hero in a filmi industry that is flamboyant and yet shallow at times. You will not see him in boisterous masala films. You will discover him the way he wants to be discovered. In intelligent ways.

His filmography is as long as the Ganges and begins  in 1988 with Salaam Bombay.  Irrfan Khan is a big name in India but was little known here in the US until Slumdog Millionaire hit the theaters. It opened doors for him and his talent was quickly recognized.  We will be seeing much more of him in the future. Starting with  Ang Lee’s  Life of Pi and  Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man.

The  movies I  highly recommend apart from all those mentioned above:

Yeh Saali Zindagi

Life in a Metro

Dil Kabbadi

New York

The Warrior