Ashdoc's movie review---The reluctant fundamentalist

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by ashdoc, May 18, 2013.

  1. ashdoc

    ashdoc Senior Member Senior Member

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    America in the nineteen nineties.....At the top of the world as it was still enjoying its victory in the cold war.....
    .......An innocent time when it was a genuinely free society without the encumbrances of security checks everywhere.....
    And above all at the peak of economic prosperity and confidence.....

    New York in the nineteen nineties.....Heading towards becoming a real melting pot where people of diverse races and cultures lived with each other---christians and jews and muslims and hindus and sikhs and caucasians and blacks and hispanics and asians.....
    And New York was....is the economic centerpiece of America.....

    And towering over New York were the Twin towers---elegant as well as brute symbols of America's economic dominance over the world......

    Men and women dreamt of working in or near the Twin towers of New York city---for working here meant that you had arrived.....

    And then they came down at the start of the twenty first century---destroyed by the most astonishing and devastating terrorist attack on any urban center in the world.....

    And lives changed after that.....America changed.....
    America's perception of the religion of those who had brought down the Twin towers changed too.....

    The hero of the this film ( played by Riz Ahmed ) belongs to that religion---yes he is muslim.....and a Pakistani to boot.....

    Riz is is one of those whom Tom Wolfe so famously called ' Masters of the universe ' in his acclaimed novel ' Bonfire of the vanities '.......
    Yeah , he has achieved his dream of working at a top position at the firm Underwood Samson in New York.....
    And he has a white girlfriend.....
    He thinks he's made it.....

    ......Until it all comes down---thats is , until the towers come down.....

    And here he is---sitting in Lahore in Pakistan telling his life story to an American journalist who's come to give a patient hearing to his twisted tale......
    The journalist has come to hear as well as record Riz's tale because he is now purported to be a fundamentalist.....
    All this is happening under the shadow of the kidnapping of an American professor in Lahore---so times are grim.....

    Its upto Changez Khan ( thats Riz's name in the movie and no , he's no mongol emperor ) to convince the American reporter that he may be a fundamentalist but he's a reluctant one---the reluctant fundamentalist.....

    So what does the term ' reluctant fundamentalist ' mean ??
    It means that he's been forced to become a fundamentalist by circumstances , by people's , by America's behavior towards him---especially after the 9/11 attacks.....

    So does he manage to convince the American journalist that he is a fundamentalist of the reluctant variety ??

    Go and watch the movie for that.....

    The more important matter is----did he manage to convince the audience watching the movie that he is a reluctant fundamentalist ??

    This I can answer only for myself.....

    And the answer is that at least I wasn't fully convinced.....

    Agreed , some of the humiliation Changez had to undergo as America became suspicious of muslims does not make nice viewing.....
    He is repeatedly singled out for security checks and on one occasion is forced to strip naked in front of policemen.....
    And he becomes a target for minor hate attacks....
    Even his girlfriend betrays his trust.....

    Agreed with all that.....agreed.....

    But would the Pakistanis have behaved less paranoically had their country been attacked by outsiders in a brutal terrorist attack ?? Would their behavior towards the people of the attackers' religion been any different than the Americans' behavior ?? Would Changez behave in a different manner than Americans did with outsiders if his country was attacked by their people ??

    And why does Changez have to become a fundamentalist ( however reluctant that fundamentalism may have been ) because America was was not good to him ??
    Why does he have to grow a ' fundamentalist ' beard ?? Is it compulsory for people ill treated by America to grow a beard ??

    OK , if he does not feel comfortable in America he can go back to Pakistan---but why cant he live a secular life there ?? What is the need for Changez to come close to religion even if America was not good to him ??
    For example if an Indian or Chinese or Korean suffers racism in America , then that does not mean he comes close to his religion does he.....

    In my opinion these Pakistanis use any excuse to turn to their favourite haunt---religion.....

    Its to the credit of the character of Changez that he does not let his fundamentalism divert into terrorism---for his experience as an evaluator has given him enough brains to figure out the sinister aims of those who want to recruit him for terror and refuse them.....

    The movie unfolds as a series of flashbacks as Changez tells the American journalist his story and becomes more gripping as it becomes interconnected with the fate of the kidnapped American professsor.....

    And aquires the properties of a thriller as it becomes intense and Changez reveals that he knows who the American journalist really is.....

    Mohsin Hamid's novel has been well adapted on the screen using several Indian actors like Shabana Azmi and Om Puri who play Changez' parents , and the atmosphere of and contrast between New York and Lahore has been well created .

    I found the movie worth a watch....

    Verdict---Good .
     
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