Mira Nair

Educated at Delhi University and at Harvard, Mira Nair began her film career as an actor and then turned to directing award-winning documentaries, including So Far From India and India Cabaret. Her debut feature film, Salaam Bombay! was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988 and won the Camera D'Or (for best first feature) and the Prix du Publique (for most popular entry) at the Cannes Film Festival and 25 other international awards. Her next film, Mississippi Masala, won three awards at the Venice Film Festival including Best Screenplay and The Audience Choice Award. Subsequent films include The Perez Family and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, which she directed and co-wrote. Her latest feature film Monsoon Wedding won the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival.

Mira Nair joined a group of 11 renowned filmmakers to direct a film that was 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame, following the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Selected Filmography:

Salaam Bombay! - 1987 - Hindi

Salaam Bombay! is a realistic look at life on the streets in Bombay. The story follows the fortunes (or misfortunes) of young Chaipu, who set fire to a bicycle belonging to his brother's boss in an act of defiance. As a result his mother threw him out of their home until he can earn 500 rupees to repay his brother.

Deserted in his home village, Chaipu travels to the closest big city, Bombay, and takes up life on the street amongst pimps, pushers and drug addicts, desperately trying to earn enough money to allow him to go home. At first he is somewhat successful finding menial tasks such as delivering tea and skinning chickens, bringing in a few rupees at a time. But as he tries to amass the 500, he finds his money being eaten away by trying to help "Sweet Sixteen," a girl who has been sold into prostitution because losing her virginity will bring big money, and Chillum, an addict friend who ultimately robs him of all his money.

Chaipu is finally forced into a life of crime, along with most of the forgotten children with whom he wanders the streets.

Salaam Bombay! was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1989, and won the Camera d'Or at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

Direction: Mira Nair
Cast: Shafiq Syed, Raghubir Yadav, Aneeta Kanwar, Nana Patekar, Hansa Vithal
Cinematography: Sandi Sissel
Music: L Subramaniam

Mississippi Masala - 1992 - English

Demetrius is a stalwart, self-made man and owner of a carpet-cleaning business. A chance traffic accident introduces him to Mina, a beautiful young Indian woman whose family fled Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin. As Demetrius and Mina begin their secret love affair, each is swept into the other's exotic world, soon finding themselves at the center of controversy and scandal. Mina's parents, Jay and his wife Kinnu, are outraged by the relationship and concerned about their daughter's disregard for the values and traditions of their culture. Demetrius, it seems, fares no better. The Indian community is outraged, his business suffers, the bank wants to repossess his carpet cleaning van and friends whisper that he has crossed the colour line. However Demetrius stands steadfast in his belief that a shade of colour is all, which separates him and Mina.

Direction: Mira Nair
Cast: Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhury, Roshan Seth, Sharmila Tagore, Charles Dutton
Cinematography: Edward Lachman
Music: L Subramaniam

Kama Sutra - Hindi / English
(A Tale of Love)

Set in the 16th Century India, Kama Sutra is a woman's search for personal and sexual freedom.

Maya is a servant girl who is a handmaid to Tara, a princess. Maya and Tara have been close friends since childhood, and when Rasa Devi, an elegant courtesan, is brought in to instruct Tara in the lessons of the Kama Sutra, the handbook of the art of physical love, Maya is allowed to observe. Rasa teaches Tara the Dance of Enticement as a prelude to her upcoming marriage to the King, Raj Singh, but the beautiful Maya turns out to be the more capable student, and when Raj invites Maya to his bedchamber, he proves to be no match for her seductive powers. Needless to say, Tara is furious when she learns that Maya has stolen Raj's heart, and Maya is banished from the palace. On the road, Maya soon meets a handsome sculptor, Jai Kumar, who is entranced by Maya's beauty and sexual prowess; she soon becomes his lover and favourite model. However, King Raj is still obsessed with Maya, and while Tara has won his hand in marriage, he has taken to drowning himself in opium and mindless sex with his mistresses when not trying to win Maya back.

Direction: Mira Nair
Cast: Indira Varma, Sarita Choudhury, Rekha, Naveen Andrews, Ramon Tikaram
Cinematography: Declan Quinn
Music: Mychael Danna

Monsoon Wedding - 2001 - English

An exuberant family drama set in the Punjabi culture, where ancient tradition and dot-com modernity combine in unique and perfect harmony As the romantic monsoon rains loom, the extended Verma family reunites from around the globe for a last-minute arranged marriage in New Delhi. Monsoon Wedding traces five intersecting stories, each navigating different aspects of love as they cross boundaries of class, continent and morality.

Monsoon Wedding won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival.

Direction: Mira Nair
Screenplay: Sabrina Dhawan
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Shefali Shetty, Vijay Raaz, Roshan Seth, Lillete Dubey, Vasundhara Das, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rajat Kapoor, Tilotama Shome
Cinematography: Declan Quinn
Music: Mychael Danna, Sukhwinder Singh

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