NEW YORK, N.Y. – Instead of being concerned about the release of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” so soon after last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, the cast says the film presents an opportunity for understanding.
Kiefer Sutherland, known for his terrorist-hunting role on “24,” says the attacks of Sept. 11 had a profound effect on him, but he focused on the great loss in this country. He says the new film shows how the attacks had a “ripple effect” that resulted in “the things I hate the most: racism, prejudice, ignorance, fear.”
“The script took a look at it from that perspective and I hadn’t and I was embarrassed that I hadn’t thought about it,” he says.
Director Mira Nair adapted “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” also starring Liev Schreiber and Kate Hudson, from the bestselling novel of the same name. It’s the tale of a Pakistani man named Changez, played by Riz Ahmed, who returns home after his American dream is crushed following the 9-11 attacks and is now suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an American in Lahore.
Nair said she saw the film as “a chance to make a modern tale about a young Pakistani who dreams of America but also as a dialogue between America and Pakistan” and an opportunity to erase misunderstanding.
“We are riddled with Islamophobia, we are riddled with xenophobia in many, many ways” she said, adding that she wanted to create “a bridge between two worlds that I know and I love and desperately need to understand each other.”
Ahmed said he thinks the recent events have created “an appetite for people to see a film like this.”
Nair calls last week’s events tragic, but added that “it’s another reminder how the suffering that is global, that you see every day in other places in the world, has now become local.”
She says what her film does is examine the “mutual suspicion” between cultures and strips it away to show that “we are not so different.”