Mira Nair: The piercing gaze of a female director
The quickest way to introduce the Academy award nominated director to the mainstream audiences would be through art pages on Facebook. A medium of idiosyncrasies and connectivity, Facebook has also served to be an intellectual playground for people to express their aesthetical sense. In pursuance to do so a lot of pages have popped up which post visually pleasing still from films. One common one among the South Asian diaspora, a photo of Irrfan Khan and Tabu in an embrace, is from Mira Nair's 2006 film "The Namesake".
Central characters played by the regaling duo of Tabu and Irrfan, the story revolves around the migration of an Indian Family to America, and the complexities of the sorrows of anglicisation a migrant goes through. Ever the wonderful storyteller, Mira manages to tell such a heart-breaking story which would surely bring a tear to the eyes of dual citizenship holders. Her use of colours, art direction and simple costumes elevate the film to a level that cannot be placed with mainstream hits.
Originally a sociology major, Mira fell in love with film when she transferred to Harvard University as a sophomore, ultimately changing her major to Visual and Environmental Studies. Diving her time between India, United States and Uganda, Nair operates Mirabai films that is known for its emotionally aware and beautifully palatable films. Her modus operandi is visible in every film she makes, wielding the tools of complexities of life and the emotions it induces.
Another notable film that truly moved me was "Monsoon Wedding". It is also perhaps the most recognisable one, with the likes of Nasiruddin Shah, Shefali Shah and Tilottama Shome in pivotal roles. The narration is that of an upper-class Punjabi family, where darker forces are at play under the frilly and extravagant décor of an upcoming wedding. With the modernity of the culture and complexities of the modern India, issues like class divide, sexism and the after effects of sexual abuse also rise to the surface. Mira navigates them all in a way that is entirely familiar to the Indian/South Asian niche, with humility and care. Her portrayal of realistic families is what sustains the solidity of "Monsoon Wedding".
Lastly, one of latest works truly stole my breath due to its wonderful use or colours and fabrics to tell the story. "A Suitable Boy" is a BBC miniseries that had been adapted from Vikram Seth's novel of the same name. Although from a reader's point of view, there might be some discrepancies in the plot, what absolutely sold me was the pure aesthetic value of the series. All the characters of the series were dressed in styles from the late 1940s, in the post-independent era where the touches of colonisation blend together with ethnic values. Moreover, Tabu's portrayal as an aging courtesan who gets entwined with a younger boy, shows the folds of a mold-covered society's pages.