Indians Abroad

Mira Nair

Famous As Film Director and Producer
Born On 15 October 1957
Born In Rourkela, Orissa, India
Nationality Indian

Films like 'Salaam Bombay', 'Monsoon Wedding', 'Vanity Fair' and 'The Namesake', and recognitions like Golden Lion and UNESCO awards are just a few feathers in her cap. Mira Nair, the queen of cross-cultural flicks, who dared to deviate from the mainstream cinema only to steal the spotlight with her avant-garde celluloid undertakings, is genius personified. An Indian director, who successfully carved a niche for herself in the realms of short films, documentaries and feature films with her intense, novel, and at times controversial approach, Mira Nair's feat in the domain of film-making remains unparalleled to this day. Some of her best celluloid feats include her debut documentary 'India Cabaret', the zingy 'Salaam Bombay', the award-winning interracial love story 'Mississippi Masala', and much-loved 'Monsoon Wedding'. Mira's movies are never short of creative excellence, be it be about strip-teasers in 'India Cabaret', the eyebrow-raising tale of 'Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love', or her biographical foray on the life of Amelia Earhart in the film 'Amelia'. Mira has never cowed from broaching into the unfamiliar territory, a thing that has come to be the USP of her films today. A recipient of several prestigious national and international awards and nominations, the name of Mira Nair truly deserves to be etched in gold in the domain of cross-continent films.

Early Life
Mira Nair was born in Rourkela, in a humble Punjabi family on October 15, 1957. Her father was a government official and her mother was an active social worker. She was the youngest of the three kids. As a child, she received her basic education from Loreto Convent, Tara Hall in Shimla, where she developed her passion for dramatics and theatre. She later went on to study sociology in Miranda House, Delhi University. Soon after, in 1976, she moved on to Harvard University to study sociology. During her initial college days, Mira actively participated in several political street theaters for a proletarian drama club before she moved on to the US. There she met Mitch Epstein, a photographer and Sooni Taraporevala, a screenwriter, who fired up her enthusiasm for movie making.

Even during her university days at Harvard, Mira knew that she wanted to be a filmmaker. However, making conventional mainstream 'masala' movies was never on her cards. She debuted with television documentaries like 'Jama Street Masjid Journal', 'So Far From India', 'Indian Cabaret', and 'Children of a Desired Sex', before she made it big in the celluloid world with her debut feature film 'Salaam Bombay'. Though Mira won a string of awards including the Blue Ribbon Award for her documentary film 'Indian Cabaret' that revolved around the lives of strippers in a Bombay nightclub, 'Salaam Bombay' was her biggest breakthrough in films. The movie won her several national and international awards and was nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and BAFTA Film Award. 'Salaam Bombay' not only established her as a successful director, but also made her the most sought after Indian director in the international film fraternity. In 1989, she started her own production house called Mirabai Films under which she produced several box office hits. Two years later, in 1991, she garnered applause for her work in the movie 'Mississippi Masala', which casted light on inter-racialism in American society. With this flick, Mira proved her forte in mainstream commercial movies and received great adulation from her critics. In the following years, she delivered a slew of successful cinemas of which 'The Perez Family', 'Vanity Fair', 'Monsoon Wedding', 'The Namesake', and 'Amelia' remains as her chefs-d'oeuvre.

Achievements and Awards
The account of the prestigious awards that Mira Nair has won is hard to keep, as they seem to grow with every film. Mira Nair hit gold with her very first feature film 'Salaam Bombay', which was nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988 and have received coveted honors like Camera D'Or (for best first feature) and the Prix du Publique (for most popular entry) at the Cannes Film Festival. Her groundbreaking film 'Mississippi Masala' won three awards at the Venice film festival. 'Monsoon Wedding', Nair's biggest commercial success till date, has won the Golden Lion award at Venice Film Festival and was nominated for Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film. Apart from this, Mira Nair has bagged several prestigious nominations for her films including Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards and more.

Personal Life
Mira was first married to Mitch Epstein but separated after a few years. She is currently married to Mahmood Mamdani, who is a professor at Makere Institute of Social Research. Apart from making films, Mira also teaches at the Columbia University as an adjunct professor in the Art and Film department in the School of Arts. The couple has a son named Zohran.

Time Line
1957: She was born in a Punjabi family in Orissa on October 15.
1985: Received Best Documentary Film award at the Global Village Film Festival for 'India Cabaret'.
1988: Was bestowed with The Audience Award at the Cannes Film Festival for 'Salaam Bombay'.
1988: She met her second husband Professor Mahmood Mamdani.
1989: She established her production house Mirabai Films.
1989: Nominated for Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film for 'Salaam Bombay'.
1991: Won the Golden Osella award for the Best Original Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival for the film 'Mississippi Masala'.
1992: Was granted with the Best Director Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists award for 'Mississippi Masala'.
2001: Received the Golden Lion (Best Film) award at the Venice Film Festival for the movie 'Monsoon Wedding'.
2002: Audience Award, Canberra International Film Festival: Monsoon Wedding
2004: Faith Hubley Web of Life Award
2007: 'The Namesake' was released.