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Not to mention a mother (she shot Monsoon Wedding in the monsoon season to fit in with her son's summer holidays).

"The male director friends I have," says Nair, "they're like gods in their universes, with their entourages..."It's at this point that I feel a prickle of doubt return.

She and her husband, the Ugandan academic Mahmood Mamdani, live with their 10-year-old son in New York, but Nair shares a home with her mother ("We have our own homestead") in Delhi.

Her mum and dad both have cameos in the film, but it's her mother she wants to tell me about. "This is one of the things I have to think about now – it's a real dilemma.

"I live in that world." The 44-year-old director, born and raised in India as a Hindu, says that since 11 September she's felt her colour even more intensely.

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That's her." Nair starts to jiggle, then gestures at her shoulder. "And she wears these wigs," she chuckles, "because she has very fine gossamer-like hair. "Her va-va-voom spirit is matched only by her bluntness. I can't talk too much about it, because I haven't said yes yet, but it's about chasing inspiration, which I know a lot about..."Will she be tempted? "It would enable me to paint on a much wider canvas, it would give me the millions I need.Underdogs, as opposed to top dogs, are what get Nair bubbling with excitement.The issue of "blackness" came up because she wants to direct a movie about Bob Marley, featuring Rohan Marley and his wife Lauryn Hill. "The cooking's not ready yet, but I would love to do that."Sadly, her excitement isn't always infectious.Just as importantly, it celebrates the determination to resist abuse, however great the cost.Our heroine is Ria (Shefali Shetty), not the doll-like bride-to-be Aditi (played by the pop superstar Vasundhara Das)."I would do it for you, if my shoulder were not out of whack. She kisses just stunningly." I say she's got such a placid face I can't imagine her singing. Oh, I could tell you a thing or two about her." Nair sighs: "She was a little tough, actually. When an actor can do certain things and not another, the script has to move to become that."Unlike the rest of the crew, Nair wasn't particularly awe-struck by Vasundhara's looks. Nair says she considered leaving out the sexual abuse theme in Monsoon Wedding. But no one will give me m without wanting me to listen to their opinion.

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