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Saturday, February 13, 2010

'My Name Is Khan' film review: A Bold and Emotional Movie With A Message

I just watched the Shahrukh Khan-Kajol starrer, My Name Is Khan [MNIK]. Firstly, it is definitely a bold movie and the film-makers must be credited for coming up with a movie that sends a very strong universal message.

MNIK is not an ordinary Bollywood flick. More than the innate goodness of the protagonist who suffers from Asperger's syndrome and has an innocent charm with which he wins his lady love and later goes on a journey across America, the film deals with civilisational and cultural faultlines to take a hugely moralistic stand.

Yes, 9/11 changed the world but entire communities couldn't be seen as suspects. All these years we have seen the stereotyping of Muslims, weird theories like clash of civilsations and the generalisations but this film takes on such bigotry. And the fact that this movie with an international message comes from India, is all the more heartwarming.

With such a tough subject and no usual street song-and-dance scenes, there was every possibility of the film getting dull. But to Karan Johar's credit, the movie has been handled well. Shahrukh-Kajol's on-screen chemistry is again striking.

The Story

MNIK is the story of Mandira [Kajol], a divorcee with a kid, and Rizvan Khan [Shahrukh] suffering from Asperger's syndrome, who fall in love and whose lives are terribly shattered after 9/11. There is a strong tragic turn in their marriage that forced them to part ways and Khan begins his journey.

Today there are millions of families in this country where the husband and wife belong to different communities and there is puja and namaz in the same house.

And though we don't acknowledge it as much and celebrate this multi-culturalism, the story of this inter-religious couple in the backdrop of Twin Tower attack has acquired another dimension.

The story takes several twists and turns. Khan is misunderstood, arrested by FBI and released. Meets a radical Muslim preacher and reaches a Black-dominated town in Georgia, which he returns to after hearing that the Katrina hurricane as ravaged it.

In the end, he keeps his promise. There are several scenes which might resonate in your ears after watching the movie. The movies makes strong statements against racial profiling and religious biases, but still it doesn't bore you.

The Movie and The Message

Shahrukh plays his part of perfection and despite the limitation of his character, not for once makes you feel that he has been cast as either a mildly disabled person.

The camerawork is fine and the songs beautiful but the movie has certainly scored because of the presence of Shahrukh and Kajol. Having said this, it's not easy to carry a movie just due to star presence.

It's surely not a movie that you watch for pure fun [or total entertainment] where you expect to come out of hall, laughing. The emotional scenes especially the tragic turn, which the movie takes after intermission, will stay with you for long. Afterwards, the film though ends on a happy note.

That this movie which has such a global message and was conceptualised in India, makes it all the more special. MNIK has its own flaws. It may fall short of becoming an epic movie but the fact that Karan Johar attempted to tell an epic tale, is really admirable.