The book The Reluctant Fundamentalist and the movie with the same title, have major differences yet similarities. This blog post will compare and contrast the plot, characters and relationships as well as pointing out focus and message of the book and the film.
First off, the plot is what I see as the major difference in this case. In the novel, it starts off by Changez (the protagonist) who interrupts a random stranger in the streets of Lahore. He is able to distinguish him from others by pointing out the person’s characteristics, and from early on we get to know that this stranger is an American, possibly a CIA-agent on a undercover mission. In the movie, the first scenes reveals some Pakistani culture, in addition to an American (professor who works at Changez’ school) being kidnapped. This particular scene already tells us that it possibly or it is an undercover mission. It is clear to see that they are enemies, and that Bobby (the American journalist) only meets Changez to gather valuable information about him and his relationship to the American culture, because of suspicious circumstances. Basically from the start of the movie we can tell that the focus is more on terrorism and relations, rather than nostalgia which is probably the main focus in the book. In the novel, Changez’ past is based on the plot, where he tells about his college years at Princeton University), his successes and downfalls at a prestigious company (Samson & Underwood Company), in addition to his relationship with Erica (classmate from college). Most of these elements are present in the movie as well, but not as emphasized as in the book, and there are also some clear plot differences. Firstly, Changez fires himself from the company in the film, while in the book he gets fired by Jim (the boss). Secondly, in the novel Erica (which is an author in this case) becomes mentally ill, mainly because of the unexpected loss of her boyfriend, Chris, additionally to the 9/11 event – a plot twist in the story. The reason why I believe this, is that the whole mood shifts from being somewhat happier and successful in the beginning than towards the end of the story. In the movie, Erica is a visual artist and does not become ill, even though she expresses how much she misses Chris; how she feels guilty for the accidental cause of his death because she was driving while drunk. Since Changez makes such an impact on her, she chooses to include him in her art installation exhibited at a gallery (the cause of their split-up), while in the book, Changez is not involved in any of her work.
I also sense that Erica is more a real human being than a symbol in the movie. Their relationship might as well mirror Changez’ relationship to America; he loves America, but still he cannot seem adapt to the culture.
The movie’s most obvious message is prejudicing and stereotyping, because the plot eventually reveals that the CIA and the journalist were mistaken by Changez’ politics. He is actually against judgement and stereotyping of others and therefore becomes a sort of a person the audience eventually will empathize with, since the CIA agents are too suspicious of the whole situation.
These two medias are good in their own ways on how the plot is portrayed. The novel has some elements that are better than the movie and vice versa. I have no opinion about which of them is the best, because I think they are equally good. I enjoyed all the action and motion in the movie, but I also liked the way the book kept some moments more secret and discreet because the readers had an opportunity to interpret the content theirselves, which made it more exciting.