Student demonstrations are raging in Lahore, as young Pakistani professor Changez Khan (Riz MC) and a journalist, Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber), share a cup of tea and conversation. Princeton-educated Changez tells Lincoln of his past as a brilliant business analyst on Wall Street. He talks of the glittering future that lay before him and the beautiful and sophisticated Erica whom he was set to share that future with.
But then 9/11 changes everything. Attitudes shift dramatically - his very name and face rendering him suspect. Returning to his homeland and the family to whom he is very close, he takes up a post as lecturer at the local university, a hotbed of radicalism and the new militant academia.
The collegial pretense of the meeting in a Lahore teahouse, between Lincoln and Changez, slowly gives way to why the unlikely pair has gathered on a summer day - another professor has been kidnapped by extremists, and the clock is ticking toward a deadline for his execution. Changez's family is being harassed and is in real danger. Bobby is there to listen, with an agenda of his own. As it is revealed that Lincoln is in the lions' den with the CIA, we also learn that he has a personal stake in the immediate crisis at hand. Taking us through the culturally rich and beguiling worlds of New York, Lahore and Istanbul The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an exploration of prejudice and the phenomenon of globalization that is both exhilirating and deeply unsettling.