Sooni Taraporevala

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The Namesake Review


Very Good
Mira Nair's latest film, a translation of Jhumpa Lahiri's emphatically praised book The Namesake, caps off a theme that has been heavy in her work thus far: assimilation and cultural duty. Though she's been making films since the mid-'80s, Nair didn't attain commercial attention until 2002 with Monsoon Wedding, an exuberant comedy about a New Delhi wedding between a woman who just ended an affair with a married producer and a native of India prospering in Texas. The modest hit gave her enough clout to secure her a director's chair on the last adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair, an England-based novel given an Indian flair on the big screen.

Monsoon Wedding turned the slow grinding of cross-culture gears into a comfy piece of visual pop. It confronted the situation but seemed complacent enough to leave the confrontation in simple, digestible terms; a stylized My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In contrast, Vanity Fair, originally a satire of England's manners and traditions, was taken deep into the mystic, hitting its most absurd note when Reese Witherspoon seductively belly danced with a tribe of women from India. Though it was easy to see where these moments were pointing, The Namesake gives Nair a broad canvas and a more concise frame to study the American identity and its effects on other cultures without any affectation or pretense.

Continue reading: The Namesake Review

Salaam Bombay! Review


Good
Somewhere between the bitter hopelessness of Pixote and the sarcastic sensibility of Kids likes Salaam Bombay!, Mina Nair's look into kids living on the streets of Bombay, India.

The story's awfully familiar. The boys scrape by, in this case selling tea, while the girls are pimped out as virgins for hire. Eventually our hero (Shafiq Syed) finds his money stolen, so he has to turn to a life of crime. Really, one wonders why he didn't become a criminal in the first place.

Continue reading: Salaam Bombay! Review

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The Namesake Movie Review

The Namesake Movie Review

Mira Nair's latest film, a translation of Jhumpa Lahiri's emphatically praised book The Namesake, caps...

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