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British-Pakistani rising star relishes Venice spotlight

August 31, 2012


(From L) US actress Kate Hudson, Indian film director Mira Nair and British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed pose during the photocall of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" at the 69th Venice film festival on August 29, 2012 at Venice Lido. — Photo by AFP

VENICE: British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed spoke with pride on Thursday about his star role in the political thriller “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” as a way of tackling major issues of our time.

“I think creative people want to respond to the conflicts and the shifting terrain of the world around them and articulate them and explore them,” the 29-year-old said in an interview on the sidelines of the Venice film festival.

“It feels exciting to contribute and add nuance to something that is already on people's minds,” said Khan, adding that seeing the Occupy Wall Street protests while filming was going on in New York reinforced the relevance.

In the film directed by Indian-born director Mira Nair, which is scheduled for release early next year, Ahmed's character Changez Khan plays a soulful Pakistani who rejects the fundamentalisms of capitalism and religion.

“For me it's about our attempt to follow our individual path in life without getting blocked by or sucked into labels bigger than us,” he said.

“That's the journey of the film. It's about how to escape these labels and can we ever. And one of the truths of the film is that you can't.”

The Oxford-educated actor and rapper previously starred in Michael Winterbottom's docudrama “The Road to Guantanamo” (2006) and “Four Lions” (2010) — a black comedy about four hapless suicide bombers in England.