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THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST - Has an important message for the world, which comes too late and could have been given in a more solid, emotional manner. (Review by Bobby Sing)

17 May, 2013 | Movie Reviews / 2013 Releases

The director of widely acclaimed films such as SALAAM BOMBAY (1988), MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1991), MONSOON WEDDING (2001) and THE NAMESAKE (2006) coming up with an international project on the after effects of 9/11 dealing with Islamic followers, was no doubt an interesting news for viewers of meaningful cinema like myself. But deep inside, it also gave me the feeling of being too late and repetitive in nature when I saw its trailer a few weeks back. Nevertheless the expectation of seeing a new perspective on the subject was still there as that is what Mira Nair is known for in the trade from decades.
But unfortunately the renowned director fails to give us something fresh in terms of content this time, yet does raise a valid question related to the ‘personal appearance of a person’ in her purposeful film, which was vaguely touched in the numerous similar projects made in the past. A sincere adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s novel of the same name, TRF has all the merits of a well made film in technical terms. It has an outstanding background score, an impressive cinematography and two immensely enjoyable tracks in the beginning (Kangna) and climax of the film (Peer Dastgeer) as per the reputation of its famed director. But sadly, it’s the ineffective screenplay here, which is not able to move the viewer emotionally and he doesn’t feel any kind of instant connect with all the suffering characters on the screen.
The film begins superbly giving you an indication of a great visionary project, but then steps down to all seen before paths without any novelty in just a few minutes. The narration keeps moving on an uninspiring pace leading to a lackluster conclusion and in the end one can only say that the intentions were noble, but it couldn’t result in something powerfully, thought provoking or transforming. Also what came to me as a big shock was the way neither Om Puri nor Shabana Azmi was used anywhere in the film relating to its actual cause by the director, resulting in a big waste of talent. Meesha Shafi serves as a pleasant surprise but Kate Hudson acts really well in the role of depressing lover along with a fine performance by Live Schreiber and Kiefer Sutherland.
In short, the only saving grace of this completely predictable venture remains its lead actor Riz Ahmed who brilliantly portrays the role of an innocent victim of the system, through his body language, expressive eyes and minimum dialogues. But even he turns out to be not that impressive towards the end of the film, which actually should have been the key moment of TRF leaving a solid impact. So with an ‘already explored plot from all angles’ and nothing significantly compelling in its routine storyline, Mira Nair gives us a rather weak film talking about an important issue which itself isn’t featured that effectively in its sequences.
To be specific, it rightly focuses on the core issue wherein people started staring, commenting and objecting upon how two communities used to dress in particular after the 9/11 event. One obviously was the MUSLIM community and the other were the SIKHS who also kept a beard and a turban too, quite close to the way one can see in a Afghani attire. Now where Muslim residents were openly interrogated as well as spied upon in those tense years. It was the SIKH community which was being directly killed and hated severely, only due to their resembling appearance with the pictures being flashed all over the media.
Here Mira Nair begins to talk about this very issue only, when the protagonist of the film is looked upon mysteriously, the day he starts keeping a beard and stops shaving. A simple beard on the face of a Muslim sitting in their office creates problems for his fellow colleagues and they begin feeling uncomfortable in his presence quite strangely. All of a sudden they are not interested in interacting with him like they used to do before as if the whole terrorism of the world was just there in that beard (or a turban) only.
THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST exactly talks about this major problem leading towards further humiliation, mental torture and inner anger which possibly might become responsible of turning a conflicting disturbed mind towards actual terrorism. But later as the story proceeds with a mix of flashback images and the present day Pakistan, the message gets lost and the focus shifts towards the transformation phase of Riz Ahmed instead which  again is quite confusing. Further the climax too fails to leave any kind of long lasting impact on the viewers and the real message of the film doesn’t get addressed boldly which is that, ‘Till we are not interested in stopping this practice of doubting every Muslim as a mysterious person due to his appearance or name, the problem is not going to end anyway’ and that is what Mira Nair wishes to say in her film based on the introspective novel.
However I seriously wish, she could have said that more forcefully making an effective disturbing connect with the viewers, which at present is completely missing in THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST. Anyway on a lighter note, I really enjoyed the two melodious songs (Kangna & Dastgeer) playing in the background more than the film itself, as they both were already my favourites from Pakistan’s hit musical show, Coke Studio. Hence in case you also wish to see these fabulous renditions on the big screen too then the choice is all yours otherwise the film can easily be given a miss to be later watched on Home Video.
Rating : 2.5 / 5

Tags : The Reluctant Fundamentalist Movie Review, TRF Review, Mira Nair International Project on Terrorism, Reviews by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Ci
17 May 2013 / Comment ( 0 )
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