DVD review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Kaleidoscope)


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The Independent Culture

In Mira Nair’s thoughtful drama, Riz Ahmed, above right, plays Changez, the well-born son of a Punjab poet who comes to America and is “catapulted into privilege” – an Ivy League education, then a prestigious job on Wall Street. It all changes after the Twin Towers go down, when merely being a Muslim gives rise to his being strip-searched at customs, mistakenly arrested and abused.

The story is recounted by Changez in flashback to an American journalist (Liev Schreiber) on the trail of a kidnapped professor. How deeply is this reluctant fundamentalist implicated in anti-American insurgency?

Nair, adapting from the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid, draws a terrific performance from Ahmed as the divided hero. The story cleverly plots the way his allegiance shifts from capitalism to militancy, hinting that he might be exchanging one sort of fundamentalism for another.

Nair keeps an honourable, even-handed line in this moral fable.