Mira Nair is an Indian-American filmmaker based in New York City. Nair's production company, Mirabai Films, specialises in films for international audiences on Indian society, especially in the economic, social and cultural scenarios. Her most recognised work is for ‘Mississippi Masala’, ‘The Namesake’, The Golden Lion-winning ‘Monsoon Wedding’ and ‘Salaam Bombay!’ which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Before becoming a filmmaker, Nair shared a desire to act. She performed in plays written by Badal Sarkar, a Bengali performer. Whilst studying at Harvard University, she was involved in the theatre program and won a Boylston Prize for her excellent performance of Jocasta’s speech from Seneca’s Oedipus.
In the beginnings of her career as a filmmaker, Nair made documentaries focused on exploring Indian cultural traditions. For her film thesis at Harvard between 1978 and 1979, Nair produced a black-and-white film entitled ‘Jama Masjid Street Journal’, exploring the streets of Old Delhi.
In 1983, Nair co-wrote ‘Salaam Bombay!’ with her friend Sooni Taraporevala. She sought out genuine "street children" to be able to authentically portray the lives of children surviving in the streets, without a real childhood. Her film was highly successful, winning 23 international awards, including the Camera D’or and Prix du Public at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988. In 1989, ‘Salaam Bombay!’ was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Niar directed four more films before she produced one of her super hit films, ‘Monsoon Wedding’. Released in 2001, the film told the story of a traditional Punjabi Indian wedding. The film grossed over $30 million worldwide and won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. She became the first female recipient of the award.
Her other notable works include the Golden Globe winning ‘Hysterical Blindness’ (2002),’ Vanity Fair’ (2004), ‘The Namesake’ (2006), ‘Amelia’ (2009), ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ (2012) and ‘Queen of Katwe’ (2016).