Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 24
Mira Nair October 15, 1957
Mira Nair born

Born on October 15, 1957 in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa in India –– a town she later remarked, “even in Indian terms, it's really remote" –– Mira Nair was a director from the very start. At first, it was just the village children. Her father later commented, “Even though the boys were older, she was the leader." As she grew up, she expanded her repertoire of self-expression, learning to play the sitar, to paint, to write poetry and perform street theater. After attending the University of Delhi, Nair received a full scholarship from Harvard. Intending to study drama, Nair interest soon turned to documentary film. And within a few years she created a number of short documentaries dealing with life and Indian and in the Indian Diaspora. For her first feature, Nair, however, pushed the boundaries of documentary to create a hybrid form. For her, documentary proved too constraining since, as she told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Life controlled the film.” The feature SALAAM BOMBAY!, a drama about street kids that used her talents as a writer, performer and documentarian, became an international hit, winning Camera d'Or for Best First Film at the Cannes Film Festival, as well getting an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. In nearly all her films, Mira Nair has shown a talent for bringing together diverse interests, be in the mix of cultures in her American indie debut MISSISSIPPI MASALA, or the mix of styles in her Indie Bollywood romance MONSOON WEDDING, or many generations in THE PEREZ FAMILY. Even in tackling a period piece like VANITY FAIR, Nair was able to showcase to advantage the 19th century novel’s fascination with India. When she first approached the film, she found universal connections between her world and William Thackeray’s : “I'm not a big fan of English period stuffy drawing-room drama. But the modernity of this novel, the fact that social climbing and vanity and greed and ambition, the human folly that we're all part of, is something that is so utterly timeless.”


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