Mira Nair is one of those filmmakers who always believed in bringing out those issues that are brushed under the carpet in Indian families. She uses the tropes of commercial cinema and weaves a real story that gives them an international outlook. But do you know she began her entertainment career as an actor? Yes, she used to perform in plays written by Badal Sarkar, and at Harvard University, she even won the Boylston Prize for her performance of Jocasta’s speech from Seneca’s Oedipus. Entertainment News | It is a Massive Yet Intimate Saga’: Mira Nair Ahead of ‘A Suitable Boy’ Premiere
So why did she become a director? Nair's answer to that is it's collaborative. "That’s why I am neither a photographer nor writer," she said. "I like to work with people, and my strength, if any, is that. Working with life," Nair informed Image Journal in 2017. We are glad that she decided to turn into a filmmaker and give us some amazing films. On that note, let's talk about five of her best movies and where to watch them on her birthday today.
Salaam Bombay! (1988)
Where to watch: Netflix
Salaam Bombay is an ode to the lives of children living in slums. It was Irrfan Khan's debut film but his role was reduced to only a few seconds in the final edit. The movie won the Camera d'or and Audience award at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also India's second film to get a nomination at the Academy Awards.
Missippi Masala (1991)
Where To Watch: Youtube
Nair's flair of baring India's deep-rooted social issues and beliefs is simply unmatched. This movie starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Chaudhary is about an interracial love story and how it faces protests. It's a beautiful and truthful depiction of how our parents behave when we decide to marry outside the caste.
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime Video, Youtube
Weddings in India are like festivals, that are bright, shiny, and cherishable but they also harbour a lot of secrets and misdeeds. Monsoon Wedding brought together all sides of marriages in India and it's amazing. It has something for everyone.
The Namesake (2006)
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime Video
Words fall short for this movie. Based on Jhumpa Lahiri's book with the same name, Namesake gives you a gamut of emotions with Irrfan Khan's perfect rendition of a Bengali husband and father, Tabu's subtlety as his wife and mother, a son's fight to get away from absurd traditions. Mira Nair Reminisces Working with Irrfan Khan in Salaam Bombay And The Namesake, Says ‘His Art and Humanity Will Be Badly Missed’
Queen Of Katwe (2016)
Where to watch: Disney+, Youtube
A true-story of Uganda's chess champion Phiona Mutesi, Queen Of Katwe is what Nair does best. Keep it light, breezy, and yet put the point across. It's a movie with an all-black cast and a female protagonist; still, it has all the flavours of a typical commercial multiplex movie. That's the beauty of this director. Her films are considered parallel cinema but they are as mainstream as any other Bollywood masala films.