From Harvard Magazine:
Mira Nair ’79 met Sooni Taraporevala ’79 in the Lowell House dining room in the fall of 1976. The two women, both of Indian descent, became friends and, nine years later, began working together on the 1988 film Salaam Bombay!—Nair as director, Taraporevala as screenwriter. Later they collaborated on Mississippi Masala (1991) and My Own Country (1998). But none of their movies so directly mirrors their own life experiences as this year’s The Namesake, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri’s first novel. Having read the book en route, Nair arrived in Taraporevala’s hometown of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in March 2004 and bluntly told the screenwriter, “Sooni, we were born to make this film.”
Even living half a world apart, the two friends worked closely together on The Namesake, thanks to the Internet. “I’d e-mail her scenes every few days,” Taraporevala explains, “while she read the book and marked out her selections—which coincided with mine. We were perfectly in sync.” That process produced the first draft, written in “an insane 11 days,” the screenwriter says, a schedule imposed by Nair’s agent, who needed to take the script to Cannes.