Filmmaker Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist will premiere on August 31 at the 69th Venice International Film Festival. And Dolce & Gabbana, along with Gucci, have offered to dress Shabana Azmi for the event. The actor will be walking the red carpet and is also the guest of honour at the annual Gucci Award for Women in Cinema, which was introduced last year.
Surprised and delighted by the invitation, the internationally acclaimed actor-activist attributes it to Mira’s connections. “I’m not a brand person, we have to get together and figure what I’m going to be wearing since I don’t see myself in a gown. But the association with Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci is an added bonus and will give the film visibility of a different kind,” she says.
Glad that Mira’s film is getting so much attention, Shabana adds, “It was a huge struggle to put the project together after the original financiers backed out. It required a lot of effort and she (Mira) made it with only a quarter of the budget she initially wanted. It’s great that she’s been rewarded with an opening night at Venice. The issue that The Reluctant Fundamentalist raises is something that’s been touched upon so far from only a western viewpoint. This is the sub-continental voice and needs to be heard by the world too.”
Mira and Shabana have always wanted to do a film together, ever since the filmmaker cast the actor’s mother, Shakuat Kaifi, in Salaam Bombay (1988). “When she called to beg me to say yes for Ammi’s part, my instant reaction was, ‘Akal aa gayi! (You have finally comes to your senses),” Shabana reminisces, with a laugh. “After Gurinder (Chadha) and Deepa (Mehta), working with Mira completes the cycle; they’re a trio of such important filmmakers.”