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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.


Sandeep Monga said...

For u Adnan,AB's reply to a question on his blog regarding the recent controversy:

9.AS says:
February 13, 2010 at 2:15 am
You will likely not respond to this, but I really want to know why and how you can possibly be silent / speak good of indviduals like Bal Thakrey who seek to instigate fear in those that simply want Indians and Pakistani’s to get along. Mr Thakrey chooses to manipulate the emotions of those select vulnerable extremists, that are only looking for an excuse to hate our neighbor and spread fear among those that chose to excercise the most fundamental right of our democratic nation - freedom of speech. Being an established artist, I am positive you disagree with this stance. Why not use your blog as a vehicle to address this? It is really concerning that while you share an opinion on most everything, you refuse to share an opinion on this.

1.ab says:
February 13, 2010 at 11:32 am
i have never shied from expressing opinion … but expressing opinion and creating discomfort for the common man not party to the real issues is not prudent .. we are all vulnerable because we are put into a celeb status ..people connect to us as fans .. but people have their own ideologies and beliefs and faiths .. i do not believe in respective ideologies, certainly not of those that you mention, that is their right .. but how can i stop my association with them .. its like saying i must show greater allegiance to a Hindu fan than a Muslim, just because i happen to be a Hindu .. NO .. this is wrong they are all equal to me .. if they do something that is against the law, i shall never side or go against the legal procedure .. i am apolitical .. i cannot help it if because of my status i am known to a bal thakeray, a narendra modi, a jyoti basu or a karunanidhi .. does that mean that i believe in all their ideologies .. NO MOST CERTAINLY NOT .. who i vote for and believe in politically is my private confidential right as per my constitution and i have mandatory right over it .. but just because i have a face and a voice that can be heard and seen, does not mean that i must start expressing it without caring for the consequences that it could cause .. we will seek protection and get it .. but who will protect the man on the street the common man who shall become an innocent victim of a repercussion that may have come about from what i may have expressed .. i will keep silent in prudence .. not because of fear or for my personal safety .. i will look at a larger picture .. a picture you will not be able to see, because you are not in our shoes . AND , where do you gather this information that i speak of good of any one’s actions .. read the blog carefully .. i have merely recounted what transpired as a routine occurrence .. if you choose to read more into it, that is your prerogative.. but you cannot attach blame on me for it .. a democratic nation and system must have debate as a prerequisite before forming opinion and blame .. I shall agree with this, and yes, shall disagree with any other system that challenges this … my love to you

Shafiq said...

I went to go watch it yesterday.

Overall it was a good movie, but I think the story could have been better - In places, I thought credibility and reality was being stretched to its limit.

I also thought there was too much SRK and too little Kajol. The whole Georgia bit also made little sense.

What were its good points? Its depiction of diaspora life, and the lives of Muslims living in the US, was remarkably accurate. Obviously, the message was good and although some people have criticised what they see as a two-dimensional 'good people, bad people' message, I think it's spot on.

Finally, bonus points for slipping in a couple of Gujarati sentences in :)

Shafiq said...

As for Shiv Sena, they're attention whores. Starve them of publicity and they'll disappear soon enough.

Hyderabadi said...

@ Sandeep Monga :
AB's response to the queries of AS, is just like playing with the words as such he did in all his famous Angry young man's stereotyped movies.

Sandeep Monga said...

@Hyedrabadi,Sad that u don'twant to see what is obvious.It has become a fashion to pelt stones at AB,cause no one is bigger than him in showbusiness and also it kind of pits him against SRK & that suits both the senas & also the so called secular parties.To show one as a hero & the other as a villain(whichever suits whichever side)is the norm.SRK doesn't say nythng against the attacks on Indians in Australia,no problems,AB returns the honour,he is a publicity hound,double standards isn't it?.SRK gives no comments on Fana or north Indians vs Marathis,no problems,he is not a coward,but if AB doesn't comment on MNIK controversy or says it only on his blog,he is a coward.SRK had all the time to buy ny Pakistani player for KKR,but he doesn't still he is a hero cause he says that they should've been bought,why didn,t he buy,I ask.This whole debate is useless & third rated.Has Aamir/Farah/Akshay/Sajid/Saif/Kareena/Sanjay or nyone else spoken on this,but no one takes their names,well as I said earlier,It is useless.I am against stopping the release of ny movie for whatever reasons but what is the guarantee that those involved in this controversy didn't do it for publicity & I mean both the parties.Are we sitting inside the minds of Thackrey or SRK?

Anonymous said...

A very well written review. But I feel that the core issure is being marginalisedi,e. of terrorism and the challenges before us. Please see my blog on the same.

Anonymous said...


I would like to see the movie, after reading this.

Best wishes,

Archana said...

I have a somewhat different perspective on this film from yours. I too wrote a post reviewing this film. See here - http://tropicandstorm.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-name-is-khan-critical-review.html