New York: Filmmaker Mira Nair's latest film Amelia starring two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank and Richard Gere, opens across the United States this week and in the first week of December in India. This is her biggest, most expensive film to date, and signals her arrival as a mainstream Hollywood filmmaker.
Amelia is a film based on the life of the legendary American aviator Amelia Earhart. The film is Nair's first major Hollywood studio venture, and also stars Ewan McGregor. At the red carpet premiere of Amelia in New York on Tuesday, the stars were all praise for their director.
"Mira walks in, in all her strength, and walks proudly and is obviously very talented. I think she was the perfect person to be at the helm of this movie," said Hillary.
"Mira is a real. It's funny, one side of her, she's a real bulldog, meaning she will not let go. She bites on to something and she shakes it until it's what she wants. She's not always right but she is a bulldog about it for sure, she's very strong," said Gere.
"She's a very talented woman and I enjoyed working with her a lot. She's very specific about what she is after in each scene, and she lets you play and she gives you notes on what you're doing, which is nice," said McGregor.
Earhart, who racked up many aviation records and went missing over the Pacific Ocean trying to fly around the globe in 1937, is an American icon. But Mira insists that she didn't approach this film as an Indian director interpreting an all-American character.
"The way I am now, I'm really a creature very proud to be from India, but very much at home in many worlds and that is perhaps one of the strengths I have in cinema. So I never saw myself as an Indian making an American tale at all. I saw myself as a film director trying to reap the real humanity, the throbbing paradoxes, the life and blood of Amelia Earhart who had been relegated to an iconic postage stamp, but to make her come alive now, in a way that was modern, in a way that was meaningful to today's world," said the director.
Still, by a happy coincidence, Mira did manage to set a scene in India.
"I was actually trying not to make a scene in India for this film because you know, been there, done that. But actually Calcutta was where Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart were stuck for some weeks because they faced the monsoons. And I had to make that scene because - in Dum Dum aerodrome where by the way I grew up, part of my life - because it was about her recklessness and her spirit. Despite the monsoon she would not wait, she had to fly in the rain and that was why that scene was important," added Mira.
With Amelia, Mira moves into the high-stakes world of Big Hollywood. And for that reason, equal attention will be paid to the commercial as well as critical success of this film.