I was 15 back then when Mira Nair's Kamasutra was released. I was 18 when I saw it for the first time. 18 was not a very good time to appreciate the movie in public. (Nor can I appreciate it today except for a few shots). But that was my first introduction to Mira Nair. And the impression "This lady is taboo" carried over for a long time untill I saw four of her better works: "Salaam Bombay!", "Mississippi Masala", "Monsoon Wedding" and the more recent "Vanity Fair". All the four movies had great casting, great music, good story line and most importantly some social commentary. New Yorker Mira keeps shuttling between NY, Bombay and Uganda....and she's got a great eye for the immigrant experiences.
MS Masala has been one of the first takes on the Indian immigrant experiece in the USA. More importantly it highlights the difference in perception between black and brown among the browns. (and that was Denzel Washington just before Malcolm X).
Salaam Bombay isnt magical trying to rescue street children..but takes a very realistic look at the maginificent tales of those tiny lives. Magsaysay winner Jockin was flashing in my mind all the while I was watching the movie. Jockin discourages pulling out these children from streets. On the contrary, he's been practising going along with these street children and trying to better their values instead of injecting middle class values. Mira Nair was ofcourse not speaking exactly in these lines. But she has supported these counterintutive ways in the scenes like the children being better off on the street than the rehabilitation center etc.
Monsoon Wedding...so many narratives run concurrently ...to bring out a real sense of wedding. The movie was immensely enjoyable including the opening and closing credits.
Vanity Fair. The closing song "Gori Re" by Javed Akthar beautifully summarizes the strong female lead character's sojourn in Britian and the British Empire.
Jhumpa Lahiri is naturally a befitting collaborator for Nair (I'm waiting for screen version of "The Namesake"). Shekhar Kapur was once my favorite when his Elizabeth was nominated for a few academy awards. But as Kamal Haasan rightly tells Amir Khan and Rajnikanth, "You have got to work. Otherwise people are going to invariably forget you."
Mira Nair continues to take up more space on my entertainment radar, while Shekhar Kapur is a lost signal.