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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the Day: Mira Nair

October 7th, 2009
08:06 PM ET

She is one of India's most succesful and prolific film producers.[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/07/art.nair.gi.jpg caption="Former Oscar nominee Mira Nair is one of Indian cinema's most successful exports."]

Now based in New York, Mira Nair has won numerous awards and has used her fame to help those less fortunate than herself.

Her debut feature film, "Salaam Bombay," was nominated for an Oscar and she capitalized on its success by using the proceeds to set up an organization that helps street children.

Educated in India and at Harvard University in the U.S. many of her films are considered controversial and provocative.

Currently engaged in a huge number of projects she looks set to be yet another fascinating Connector of the Day.

Post your questions below for Mira and we'll put as many as we can to her on Thursday's Connect the World.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Ayesha

    Hi Mira,

    Out of the current lot of Indian filmakers, besides yourself, whose work do you like the most and why?

    October 8, 2009 at 11:09 am | Reply
  2. Tanay

    Hi Mira.
    If there was one thing you could change about the way Salaam Bombay was written, and the characters that were in the movie, what would it be, or which character would it be?

    I ask this question, because, first of all, I think Salaam Bombay was a very important film for India, and for Bombay, and for the kind of characters portrayed in it. It was a watershed film in terms of the extent to which you went to make sure it was as close to reality as possible (shooting locations etc.). However, I did feel (and I feel this about a lot of films made by the 'West' about India), that the character arcs were weak, and didn't depict a journey of any of the characters or at least a clear resolution for them in the end. Does this mean, that showing Dharavi, and the prostitution-houses and the eunuchs, and Bombay's under-belly is sufficient to carry a film through just because of the curiosity it may generate in an uninitiated viewer? And could you also comment on this observation, that the characters in Salaam Bombay and similar such movies come across too much as objects of pathos?

    I guess that's 3 questions already!

    Cheers, and keep up the FANTASTIC WORK.

    Tanay.

    October 8, 2009 at 11:46 am | Reply
  3. Parag

    Mira,

    Setting up an organisation to help street children is really a great deed indeed, my question to you is which way your organisation will be different say in the areas of operations or execution from other NGOs operational in India ?

    October 8, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  4. Krishna Venkatesh

    Hello Mira,

    First off , let me say, i love your work! I am an american film composer living just outside NYC. I recently scored my first feature "Enlighten Up!- A Skeptics Journey into the World of Yoga"

    My question is, how closely do you work with the composer of one of your films? How much of what is musically scored, is your original idea of what the film should sound like, and how much is left to the interpretation of the composer?

    Many thanks for your time
    From a big big fan!

    Krishna

    October 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  5. Peter

    Hi Mira,

    I have seen monsoon wedding and recently slumdog millionaire. Although these films are fantastic and wrapped up with good music and dance etc., I keep asking myself, why films on India tend to focus on the 'bad' of India and not the 'good'? They seem to me as if they are meant to be documentry films on problems India and its people are facing.

    So I would like to know what really motivates you in makining your films connected to India?

    Many thanks and cheers!

    October 8, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  6. lauren

    Do you think bollywood is soon going to take over hollywood?

    October 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  7. bobby

    Bollywood is characterized by what some people consider cheezy love stories, dance numbers and general idealism?
    Do you think as it becomes more mainstream – bollywood will lose some of that and become more dark and violent like hollywood?

    October 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  8. JJ

    Oscar sensation Slumdog Millionaire was criticised by some in India for being 'pverty porn' – your thoughts?

    October 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  9. Anupam

    hey Mira nice job,
    but your Movie "Salaam Bombay" will describe Bombay Childrens only, please try to make this film on whole Indian childs, i am from Bhopal and i know the condition of Poor Indian childs who are very depressed beacuse of theire condition.

    October 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  10. Hillary Levin

    Hello Mira-

    Which actor/actress would you most like to work with that you have not worked with yet?

    Thank you!
    Hillary Levin

    October 8, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  11. robert patel

    Hi Mira,
    Your efforts deserve praise bettering the image of Bollywood/Hollywood as being more socially concerned in your film themes.

    How can we galvanise other organisations -even business community to have social conscience and not just preach about with the motto "children are our future"?

    October 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  12. ramprakash surulirajan

    What do I have to do if I wanted to be in one of your forthcoming movies either indian based or american? I am 37 years old,was born and raised in India now settled in the US.

    Thanks
    Ramprakash Surulirajan

    October 8, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  13. Jan Beenackers

    Dear Mrs. Nair.
    a. Have a nice stay in Qatar. b. Convey my (Dutch) greetings to your father Gautam and Urvashi c. I am very fond of your movies and hope that your new movie will be shown in Holland to. d. I am very fond of your social projects.
    Best regards,
    Jan Beenackers

    October 8, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  14. Nitin M.V

    Dear Ms. Nair,

    'Salaam Bombay' was done more than a decade back. Interesting thing is things haven't changed a bit. One could make 'salaam' (goodbye) to all major cities in India. Isn't it time one took the lens and have it focussed on Indian politicians?

    Recommend you to visit China. They have done wonders and more with respect to celluloid. It was not because of democracy or anything to do with independence. If the public has a depraved notion of development, Bollywood has done good to exemplify what India is sadly not. For that matter a 'million mutineers' remains the every Indian who leaves shore abroad.

    Salaam to India!
    Nitin

    October 8, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  15. Denise

    Hi, Ms. Nair:

    I think the coinage "poverty porn" as introduced by JJ above, aptly describes how Indian children are portrayed in Bollywood movies.

    I don't know if this casua? careless? callous? approach to "the Weaker Social Element" (i.e., women, and by extension,children) within the by-now ossified patriarchal social living arrangements that hallmarks India, has anything to do with it.

    But, I would be willng to put my money on THAT particularly ominous little marker.

    What removes all element of doubt for me, regarding this whole matter of Woman/Child social-prostitution, is the fallout from Slumdog Millionaire.

    I noticed, with lots of visual evidence as provided by media networks like CNN, BBC, etc., that the real-life impoverished Child Actors appeared to exist within this whole movie-land surreality,even when their pathetic little domiciles were thrashed. The kids posed, threw super-dramatic tantrums replete with evocations of real-or-imagined loss...and all the while with one bright, black eye FIXED FIRMLY ON THE NEWS CAMERAS!

    It was a little sad; though. But who can blame them? For let us be frank here: one moment these little street urchins are – literally – eking out their wasted lives, dashed hopes and dull dreams on the sordid streets of Kolkata, the next – poof! Like Magic, these same Lives and Beings get to be writ large – in a literal way, on movie screens and splashed across glossy magazines.

    The disconnect between these two starkly disparate extremes, though, is what the Indian Society, and this society's elected Government Officials are DOING about the same sordid instituionalisation of Child Poverty on your streets?

    In short: WHY – please ask (...yes, YOU too, Mira!...) yourselves, is it – or should it be "okay," for Child Poverty to get to be viewed as somehow acceptable on the Big Screen?

    Is Indian Art REALLY imitating Indian Life – that much? Take care...soon the lines will get too callously blurred for discernment – even by the most discerning!

    October 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  16. Inder Singh

    Hi Mira,
    No doubt that you are a good filmmaker , but the large part og this name and fame you have achieved by making films on poverty and showing India in bad light. You have been focussed on making room for yourself in Hollywood , you havent cared if it is coming at a cost where India's internation reputation is getting ruined.
    Are there no subjects that you can make a movie where the world gets up and take notice that India has some strong cultural & family bonding unlike west. Cant you find a subject by which the world takes notice of better side of India.
    You are representing your motherland India overseas, think of doing better for it. How many people who watch these movies in theatres come out and actually do anything for them – but yeah they do think negative about India. Your films potray it as a third world country.
    Instead of just showing India in bad light try doing that for USA or UK...even they have problems, but India is an easy target to make money n name. How about the serious risk to India from Pakistan or China,,,, do some researh and put those sides in front of the world...! Plenty you can do at your position for India – but all your focus is on the showing the world some century old customs of India that puts you on international stage.

    October 8, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Reply
  17. Cleopatra

    Hello Mira

    I was most touched by Salaam Bombay, by the raw essence of the children's misery captured down to the last thread of soul, to the last bone... amazing actors; and I am thrilled that you used the profits to help children... but this was all before you became 'famous'. My question is: how have you used your fame – any many more profits -since, to bring attention and contribute to advance the respect and protection of human rights in general (children, women, other groups...)? look forward to learning, best C.

    October 9, 2009 at 11:58 am | Reply
  18. consumedspirit

    which actor?
    hahaha i dunno...honestly? i can name SO MANY...
    actress?
    same answer- but then, i just really liked/like Natalie Portman, very pretty, very smart, israelite, Harvard educated but chose very good films to act like...Where the heart is if i remember it correct =S
    Someone of more similar identity?
    The one that acted in Bend it like Beck-am!
    Im fan!

    October 12, 2009 at 12:55 am | Reply
  19. Royal Botania

    Gruss von deinem D. 🙂

    February 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  20. wnioski o kredyt

    Appreciate you sharing, great post.Really looking forward to read more.

    April 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Reply

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