She left India when she was 19 and has houses in Uganda, New York and India. But internationally acclaimed filmmaker of Indian origin, Mira Nair says she has kept her son Zohran with husband Mahmood Mamdani, grounded, with his Indian roots intact.
“He is a total desi. Completely. We are not firangs at all. He is very much us. He is not an Uhmericcan (American) at all. He was born in Uganda, raised between India and America. He is at home in many places. He thinks of himself as a Ugandan and as an Indian,” Nair told us during her recent visit to the capital.
A junior in college with one more year to go, the 21-year-old is studying Arabic and Politics. “He is a very chaalu fellow. We speak only Hindustani at home. He is involved with popular culture but he is not into movies, as in he doesn’t make them (unlike me).” she says.
Ask her if it has been a deliberate attempt from her end to cocoon him from the spotlight, and the 55-year-old says, “Yes. We are not filmy people,” adding that her son “often” comes to India. She, however, wouldn’t want him to follow in her footsteps in terms of career. “No. No. He should do whatever he wants to do. I don’t see it in him to make movies. He is very involved with current affairs, politics, and political issues. I think he can be engaged in the world in someway to make a difference. He is very very interested in that.”
Despite that, Nair consults him on the films she makes to gather a young audience’s point of view. “For instance, he brought Kal Penn to my eyes when I cast him as the lead in The Namesake. I didn’t know Kal earlier.” Nair also reveals that Zohran was equally involved in the casting of her film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, that hit screens here today. Zohran is also trying to make his mother more active in the online world. “He is the one who put me on Twitter. I knew about it but I didn’t use it.”