Dipen Guhawrote on Jul 18 2009 10:37PM
Born in Orissa in 1957, of Punjabi parents, Mira Nair is probably the best known Indian filmmaker overseas. The director-screenplay writer and producer, a graduate of Delhi University, did theatre in India for many tears. In 1979, she submitted "Jama Masjid Street Journal", a sociological film thesis to Harvard University. Making her debut as a film maker in the U.S.A, where she normally resides, she has uptil now directed one short film, one English-language documentary and seven feature films At least three of her feature films could be classified as "documentary fiction".
"Salaam Bombay"(1988) which recieved the "Camera d' Or" at Cannes and has been distributed world wide, with special siccess in the West, is a manifestation of homeless orphans in Mumbai Three professional actors--Nana Patekar, Raghubir Yadav and Anita Kanwar provide, in a manner of speaking, the framework for what Nair describes " a celebration of the spirit of survival, with humour, dignity, strength and extravagance " by these children who are exploited by adults, and crushed by poverty and squalor from which there is no hope or possibility of breaking free.
Nair's "Mississippi Masla"(1991), is a subtle and humane, if somewhat detatched comedy on exile, culture shock and skin colour--white, black and not least, brown--in Jackson, Mississippi, in the bowels of the American Deep South. An Indian family driven out of Uganda in 1972, by Idi Amin Dada's ethnic persecution has chosen to settle down in Jackson. A vertible "little India" comes into being, with its little business, its festivals and its "parties". The patriarch, Jay, an advocate, is now a motel owner, run by his daughter Mina, while he spends all his time working out the details of a lawsuit to recover assets unjustly seized bt the Ugandan Govt. One day Mina , by accident, meets Demetrius, a black carpet cleaner and they become lovers, which is a great trauma for Jay. The film is an ironical meditation on the nature of interracial ties between Indians and African--Americans.
Her "Kama Sutra"( A Tale of Love), which she characterises as a portrait of "the multiple facets of love during an era-the time when sexuality was not a taboo", is disappointing for its glossy and superficial quality.
Mira Nair is inspired by writer Abraham Verghese's memoirs in the early days of AIDS awarness. An Indian doctor, his wife and younf child settle in The Usa.