6 Mira Nair films you must watch

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Mira Nair is an Indian-American filmmaker who is lauded worldwide for her deeply moving films and her powerful yet delicate portrayals of Indians and Indian issues of love, family and identity among other poignant stories.

Her newest series “A Suitable Boy” is set to release on 23 October on Netflix, but while you wait, here is a curated list of Mira Nair films you must watch!

Salaam Bombay! (1988)

Mira Nair’s first film Salaam Bombay! won Best First Feature Film at Cannes Film Festival and Best Hindi Film and Best Child Artist at the prestigious National Film Awards. A YouTube search away, this film tugs at your heartstrings.

Young Krishna is abandoned at a circus by his mother as punishment for trashing his brother’s bicycle. She warns him that he cannot return home without earning at least 500 rupees. Left behind by the circus, he takes a train to Bombay. He then becomes one of the children living on the streets of Bombay whose story involves encounters with slum dwellers, drug dealers, sex workers and hawkers. A film like this forces you to experience hardships through a child’s lens, a child whose only goal is to make enough money to return home.

Salaam Bombay! was also nominated for an Oscar (Best Foreign Language Film), BAFTA (Best Film Not in the English Language) and a Golden Globe (Best Foreign Language film).

Mississippi Masala (1991)

Mississipi Masala is Mira Nair’s second film, it features two absolutely arresting actors – Sarita Choudhury and Denzel Washington. The film follows Mina and Demetrius’s love story. Mina’s family flees Uganda in the process of which her father develops a strong prejudice towards black people. Demetrius is a self-employed carpet cleaner, whose community also behaves with hostility towards Mina.

The story revolves around the interracial couple overcoming upsetting challenges in order to be together. A strong yet beautiful treatment of interracial love, and in the early 90s no less. This film is also a tale of community and acceptance.

READ ALSO: 9 strong women characters from Indian shows on Netflix & Prime

Monsoon Wedding (2001)

The Verma household is hustling and bustling because they’re preparing for the wedding of their laadli Aditi and an NRI. The preparations are grandiose, chaotic and expensive just like the plot of this film. In true Indian fashion, multiple generations of the family, their friends, and distant relatives bring much baggage to the festive environment.

But behind closed doors, there is more drama brewing between the younger members of the wedding party, including the bride. The storytelling labelled by many as ‘ahead of its time’ addresses issues like adultery, child abuse and romance in various classes of society. Without revealing too much, let’s just say – with the beginning of the Monsoon season the Verma family celebrates without too much rain on their parade.

The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

The Namesake (2006)

Nair adapts Jhumpa Lahiri’s super relatable novel for film, featuring prominent actors like Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Kal Penn. The film revolves around an immigrant couple settled in the United States and their son who struggles to embrace his Indian name and heritage.

The film brings up and juxtaposes Indian arranged marriages and American practices of love and dating. Nuances of assimilation, identity and minority representation are all continuously co-mingling throughout the film. A must-watch Mira Nair film for the Indian diaspora.

READ ALSO: Indian shows and movies to binge-watch this October

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)

Nair’s latest political thriller is another film adaptation of a novel by Mohsin Hamid. The story surrounds Changez Khan, a young Pakistani man played by Riz Ahmed, and how the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy opens the floodgates of prejudice against him.

Changez is a man trying to achieve the American dream but faces problems because of heritage. He is hunted down by authorities and is the prime suspect in a kidnapping. Following which, his American-ness and patriotism are constantly questioned. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an important film that highlights the immense discrimination faced by Muslims in America, set off by the events that took place on 11 September 2001.

Mira Nair was even awarded The Bridge for making this film, a German Film award for peace presented to artists whose work builds bridges that encourage tolerance and humanitarianism.

Queen of Katwe (2016)

A biographical drama depicting the life of Phiona Mutesi, a world-famous Ugandan chess player. Her role is played by Madina Nalwanga and talented Lupita Nyongo plays her mother, Nakku.

The film begins in the slums of Uganda’s capital city, Katwe where we see young Phiona’s daily struggles of caring for her family while making ends meet. One day, she comes across Robert Katende who coaches kids in soccer and chess at a community centre. Immediately, life takes a turn when curious Phiona becomes the best chess player at the centre.

Follow her as she tries to achieve her dreams of becoming a Grand Master and finally, buying a home for her family. This heartfelt story is so wonderfully portrayed by Mira Nair, it definitely qualifies as one of her most inspiring films.

A Suitable Boy (2020)

Netflix’s upcoming Indian series, featuring Tanya Maniktala as the lead, is Nair’s fictional-series debut. A Suitable Boy also casts familiar faces like Tabu, Ishaan Khatter, Ram Kapoor and Rasika Dugal. Set in post-Partition India, a spirited university student tries to juggle an array of suitors as well her family’s expectations of marriage.

READ ALSO: “Actors on OTT platforms setting new standards” – Shekhar Kapur

- Advertisement -
Bageshri Savyasachi
Truth-telling, tree-hugging journalist.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


Let’s Talk Boosters: Indian Link podcast

  In LET'S TALK BOOSTERS, a new podcast series by Indian Link, host Ekta Sharma quizzes Dr Kritman Dhamoon of Blacktown Hospital Sydney about booster...
Frontline worker Parita Patel (inset). Image supplied

‘Serving the community’: COVID testing in remote NSW

  The past two years have been a rollercoaster of COVID-19 related turmoil; from isolating lockdowns, closed borders, to trying to help Indians in the...

Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

  Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

australia day thong cake

Australia Day: pick your date

  Even before Santa puts his feet up in front of the fireplace, returning from his whirlwind tour dispensing toys to children and spreading the...
Kombu Vacha Singamda

Review: Kombu Vacha Singamda

  In Kombu Vacha Singamda, director S.R. Prabharakan is back with another gripping rural entertainer that features Sasikumar in the lead. AT A GLANCE FILM: Kombu Vacha...
Volunteers at RAIN (Resourceful Australian Indian Network) preparing meals for affected community members.

Isolating Indian families find relief in NGOs’ home-cooked meals 

  As Sydneysiders grapple with the Omicron wave, Kogarah resident Ekta Sharma found herself in a 10-day isolation situation after she and her husband received positive PCR test results just after...
Malayalam film Carbon 2022

Review: Carbon

  Director Srinivasan's Carbon is an investigative thriller that keeps you hooked from the start till the end, thanks to a novel plot with twists. AT...

Govt to rebate student visa fees for the next 8 weeks

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a rebate to entice international students to come to Australia. “We will be rebating the visa application fees...