"The Reluctant Fundamentalist": Which came First, the Terrorist or the Profiling?

Films that have dealt with the events of 9/11 tend to focus on the bravery of the people who were there, while a far less popular topic is the wave of xenophobia that swept through the nation, the profiling and harassment of millions of innocent dark-skinned American citizens (Muslim or otherwise) who had no more of a connection to terrorism than the white people who were automatically above suspicion. Based on Moshin Hamid's novel, director Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist examines this issue through the evolution of a Pakistani man in New York named Changez (Riz Amhed), a wealthy financial analyst for a Bain Capital-style company who finds his life falling apart after 9/11. The casual racism he'd always tolerated now being amplified into random arrests and getting spat upon by Joe The Plumber-style patriots begins to breed the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, the terrorists had a point. Now a radical college professor in Pakistan, Changez tells his story in flashback to journalist Bobby (Liev Schrieber), while the CIA desperately searches for a kidnapped American citizen. The Reluctant Fundamentalist turns into a pulse-pounding spy thriller by the end, but above all it's a reminder of how America's tendency to villify innocent people can indeed turn them into villains, whether they want to be or not.

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