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Rediff.com  » Movies » How Mira Nair's hubby helped Forest Whitaker

How Mira Nair's hubby helped Forest Whitaker

February 28, 2007 16:04 IST
When Forest Whitaker was preparing for his role as Idi Amin in director Kevin Macdonald's The King of Scotland, he read a lot of books and met with several people -- the late Ugandan dictator's family and others who knew him or had met him.

The African-American actor's performance has won him a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and an Oscar, in addition to several other trophies.

'Most people in the West see him (Amin) as a savage who had nothing to offer,' Whitaker recently said. 'But if you talk to Ugandans they have a very mixed point of view of Idi Amin.'

'I spoke to an East Indian man, a scholar -- (filmmaker) Mira Nair's husband,' Whitaker said, referring to Mahmood Mamdani, the Herbert Lehman professor of government in the anthropology and political science departments at New York's Columbia University. 'He is a third-generation Ugandan and he had amazingly positive things to say about Idi Amin. He said Amin helped the country immensely. That was confusing for me, because Amin did kick the Asians out of Uganda. He gave them 90 days.

'But they (the Asians) controlled 80 to 90 percent of the economy. When they were kicked out, then the Ugandan had to scurry around trying to figure out how to run businesses and now today they are businessmen there.'

At the same time, Amin killed hundreds and thousands of people, Whitaker added, as he explained the complex character he plays in the film.

rediff Entertainment Bureau