MIRA NAIR Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: Mira Nair                                                                         
Born: 15 October 1957 Rourkela, Orissa, India                                           
Mira Nair (born October 15, 1957 at Rourkela, India) is an India-born, New York-based   
film director. Her production company is Mirabai Films.                                 
She was educated at Delhi University and Harvard University. Her debut feature           
film, Salaam Bombay!, won the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival           
and was also nominated for an Oscar. She often works with longtime creative             
collaborator, screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala, whom she met at Harvard.                 
Mira Nair was born in Rourkela, Orissa, where her father (having his roots in           
Amritsar, Punjab) was employed. She was the youngest of three children from a           
middle-class family. Her father was a civil servant and her mother a social             
worker. Mira did her early schooling at Catholic schools, including Tara Hall in         
Shimla. She studied sociology in Delhi University, where she became involved in         
political street theater and performed for three years in an amateur drama               
company. She left for the US at age 19 with a scholarship at Harvard, where she         
met her first husband Mitch Epstein, as well as Sooni Taraporevala.                     
At the beginning of her career as a film artist, Nair directed four                     
documentaries. India Cabaret, a film about the lives of strippers in a Bombay           
nightclub, won an award at the American Film Festival in 1986.                           
Salaam Bombay! (1988), with a screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala, was nominated           
for an Oscar for best foreign language film, and won many other awards. It is           
today considered a groundbreaking film classic, and is standard fare for film           
The 1991 film Mississippi Masala starred Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury         
that profiled a family of displaced Ugandan-Indians living and working in               
Mississippi. The screenplay was again by Sooni Taraporevala.                             
My Own Country starring Naveen Andrews, was produced for HBO films, adapted from         
the novel by Abraham Verghese by Sooni Taraporevala.                                     
Nair's most popular film to date, Monsoon Wedding (2001), about a chaotic               
Punjabi Indian wedding with a screenplay by Sabrina Dhawan, was awarded the             
prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice film festival.                               
Her 2004 version of Thackeray's novel, Vanity Fair, starred Reese Witherspoon.           
Her latest film, The Namesake, premiered in the fall of 2006 at Dartmouth               
College where Nair was presented with the Dartmouth Film Award. The Dartmouth           
Film Award, established in 1979, honors outstanding contributors to film and             
filmmaking. Previous winners have included Johnny Depp, Robert Redford, Liv             
Ullman, Ken Burns, Ang Lee, Glenn Close, and Meryl Streep. Another premiere was         
held in fall 2006 with the Indo-American Cultural Council in New York. The               
Namesake, adapted by Sooni Taraporevala from the novel by Pulitzer prize winner         
Jhumpa Lahiri, was released in March of 2007.                                           
Her latest project is Maisha, a film lab to help East Africans and South Asians         
learn to make films. Maisha is headquartered in Nair's adopted home of Kampala,         
Nair is also working on the big-budget Johnny Depp-starrer Shantaram in India,           
the U.K. and possibly Australia. The movie has been delayed due to the Writers           
Guild of America strike.                                                                 
She is also credited with directing a film in pre-production New York, I Love           
You, a romantic-drama anthology of love stories set in New York. Her future film         
Impressionist is a coming-of-age story set in the Raj of the 1920's.                     
Nair lives near Columbia University in New York City where she is an adjunct             
professor in the Film Division of the School of Arts and where her husband,             
Professor Mahmood Mamdani, also teaches.                                                 
Nair will be honoured with the "Pride of India" award at the 9th Bollywood Film         
Awards later this year for her contributions to the film industry.                       
Nair has been an enthusiastic yoga practitioner for decades; when making a film,         
she has the cast and crew start the day with a yoga session.                             
She has done a 12 minute movie on AIDS awareness called Migration.                       
Nair has one son, Zohran Mamdani, born in 1991, currently attending The Bronx           
High School of Science.