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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Shantaram may be back: Mira Nair

Robin Bansal, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 16, 2012
First Published: 16:19 IST(16/11/2012) | Last Updated: 01:45 IST(17/11/2012)
She was perhaps the first and only Indian to be offered the chance to direct the fifth film of the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007). But international filmmaker of Indian origin, Mira Nair, who rejected the offer, says she has no regrets.

In a rare chat with us over the phone from New York, we asked her if she regrets her decision and the 55-year-old clarifies, “Not at all. I was just six weeks away from shooting The Namesake and I was deeply immersed in the matter. My dear son (Zohran), who learnt to read from Harry Potter (books) said I should do The Namesake. So mere ko permission mil gaya tha (I got the permission to go ahead with it).”

Nair could not go behind the camera for her much-talked about project Shantaram as well, as it got shelved despite having actors such as Johnny Depp and Amitabh Bachchan in the lead. “It was really disappointing because we had done so much of amazing work on it. But you know what, it might rise again. I haven’t given up,” she says.

Ask her what actually went wrong, Nair shares, “It was completely beyond our control. The Writers’ Guild of America went on an all pencils down strike. It went on for 100 days. For us and Johnny to wait for 100 days, and at that time was the difficult part. So that’s when Warner Bros. Studio pulled the plug on it.” Nair is now working on The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

So, did she vote for Barack Obama in the last US elections? “I don’t vote (here). I am an Indian citizen, a Bharatiya nari with a passport like a visa accordion.”

'I will remain a student of life forever'
Her Indian citizenship might not have made her eligible to vote for Obama but is filmmaker Mira Nair glued in to the Indian politics tamasha? “Oh, there’s never a dull moment back home. But I still continue to believe. We have to make the change,” she says. Meanwhile, Nair is bagging kudos for her latest flick, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, across film festivals worldwide. Releasing in March 2013, it is the closing film at the International Film Festival of India in Goa, on Nov 30.

Ask her if she is satisfied with her work and Nair says, “You know if one is satisfied, one can’t reach there. The roti, kapda aur makan struggle (for survival) has ceased for me — you know when I was only looking at the right side of the menu (the price). But the struggle to create art and to add body to that choice of film, a book or a story is what remains now. And it is beautiful. I will remain a student of life forever.” Nair will be in the Capital on November 27 to host the Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

Talking about her experience of turning an anchor, she says, “I’ve been associated with Rolex since 10 years because they are very involved with creativity. I really believe in their activism for change from underwater to above ground level. But my part is not like an emcee (at the event). I am going to be a part of the audience, get moved by the work of others, and salute people who have devoted their lives in bringing a change.”
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