Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Mira Nair's Vanity Fair

Mira Nair's Vanity Fair, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jonathon Rhys-Meyers, opens at theatres across the country today. Nair gave an interesting interview to the New York Times Magazine's Deborah Solomon this past week. Actually, some of Solomon's questions are kind of stupid--but I will let you discern that for yourself.

Your new film, ''Vanity Fair,'' is based not on the magazine but on the great English novel. Reese Witherspoon plays Becky Sharp, one of the most conniving heroines in literature. As someone once said of Becky, she is not just a social climber; she's a mountaineer.
Becky Sharp was a girl who bucked the system. She didn't like the cards that society gave her. So she created her own deck, and created it at a time when a woman was supposed to sit still in a drawing room and hope a guy was going to come and propose.
You grew up in India and set films like ''Salaam Bombay!'' and ''Monsoon Wedding'' there. Were you drawn to Thackeray because he was also born in India?
When I was young, I spent summers in Calcutta and worked in political protest theater. And every morning, walking to my theater company, I would pass Thackeray's bungalow. There is still a crooked board there saying, ''William Makepeace Thackeray was born here.''
As an Indian citizen living in New York, do you see the U.S. as a force for good?
No. Islamophobia has completely raged in the Western world since 9/11. Americans are only given one very biased point of view about the Islamic faith.
You seem to be suggesting that Americans view all Muslims as terrorists.
Living in New York, we never felt foreign. After 9/11, we felt foreign.
Click here to read the full NYT interview.

A review of the film from the San Francisco Chronicle can be found here, and here is a larger profile of Nair from MSNBC.

Incidentally, rumor has it that Mira Nair has been offerred to direct the next in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


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