India Uncut

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Mira Nair and the elephant's backside

Mira Nair rejects Harry Potter film, says The newspiece, filed from Panaji, seems to misrepresent her, though. It says:

Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair has rejected the offer to direct the fifth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, simply because she did not find it creative enough.

“I do not like to take up a film which others with a similar creative talent can also make," Nair explains.

The two reasons, the one that Rediff says she gave and the one that she gives, are entirely different. Nair would not be quite as uppity as to say that she did not find the film “creative enough”, but the reason she does give is entirely reasonable. The Harry Potter franchise, worthy as it is, demands a factory film-maker, and someone of Nair’s individualistic style and concerns would be wasted doing it. It would be good brand-building in Hollywood, but she does not need that any more.

As an aside, I am amazed how so many in the Indian press seem to equate Nair with other women film-makers like Gurinder Chaddha and Deepa Mehta just because they are also women. Chaddha’s Bride and Prejudice and Nair’s Vanity Fair have been paired together in the same sentence so often by Indian journalists, although the sensibilities of these two ladies are so far apart from each other.

Similarly, a couple of years back, people would speak of Nair and Mehta in the same breath, and confuse one for the other. “I didn’t like that film Mira Nair made about lesbians,” a friend confessed to me once, referring to Mehta’s Fire. This is insulting to both ladies, implicitly pairing the two because they are “woman filmmakers”, and it also displays an ignorance of cinema. Nair is a far superior filmmaker to the other two, though she’s made one turkey – Kama Sutra being the bird in question. Salaam Bombay!, Missisippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding were all wonderful films. I shall find out soon how Vanity Fair pans out, and decide for myself if the “swaying backside of an elephant” that ends the films really cocks “an oversized snook at the awfulness of England”, as Anthony Lane suggests.
amit varma, 7:51 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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