Sunday, February 14, 2010

Review of "My Name is Khan"

Being in the US for 6 years has had one impact on me- whenever I see a Bollywood film depicting the US, or people of the US , I get into this 'reality check' mode- where I try to gauge the film by how true it really is in the portrayal of this country.

I have always not liked films which give a bad image to expatriates like us, or of the Indians grown up here (American Born Cultured Desis as a friend suggested me to call them), or in general of Americans. The truth is that while we are all different, we still have a heart, laugh, cry, have emotions and will not fail to act when the situation demands.

My Name is Khan scores a lot of points for what I would term as a honest and well-researched picture of the US, it's people, it's land, the life of Indians here , the problems that have surfaced in this country post 9/11. What is impressive about the film is it's storyline which is fast paced, and (thankfully) lacks the bollywood numbers popping up at the most inappropriate events . For example, I had seen the film Bombay , which though being fast-paced had the song 'Kucchi kucchi rakma ' in the middle of the riots.

SRK's role in the movie is done well, and though I do have a grudge against him (for the stupid publicity stunt), I must say that he does a good role ,especially with the Asperger Syndrome . But much more than that, it was Kajol's role , the kind of emotions shown, and her acting which really made the movie much much better. There's one scene in the movie ( not putting in here, since it reveals the plot), where she cries and there was a pindrop silence in the theater. One of those performances that can actually touch you, make you cry . One of the role that reminds you that it is also her performance that has been the reason for a lot of hits by the Khan (DDLJ, K3G and the likes)

And, the one thing, the message of the film "My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist", which is obviously much better understood if you have been in the US for an extended period of time. It's pretty clear that post 9/11, the kind of security checks which have increased sometimes tend to display a tint of religious bias , which can be felt and which honestly, is not beneficial to this country. The message at the beginning of the film, about there being only 2 kinds of people, the good and the bad, and one man's attempt to change the mindset of people who have been affected by 9/11 and have changed their beliefs.

I would again repeat, that one scoring point of the film , is it's honest portrayal of Americans - I must say that Aunt Jemma was someone whom I could identify with , the kind of innocence and friendliness I could associate with most African Americans I have met, to the motel-running Gujju, to the Punjabi beauty parlor owner , to the security officals at SF airport, they all looked like real characters I have meet on the streets here in America.

All and all a film worth watching. A final note to Mr. Khan. The publicity stunt about 'My Name is Khan' was not welcome enough. If you read through the lines, you could clearly understand that it was some check, and you did not need to say, that they checked you when you said 'My name is Khan'. In a world which is already waging a battle against religious intolerance, it would be better to not increase it. People have loved you as Raj or Rizvan, and they have never considered you different because you were 'Khan'.

[Correction: It was pointed out to me that the film is not too honest about America after all. The film does show an event attended by the President where only Catholics are allowed entry. Apparently that's not possible. Thanks Arnab for pointing it out.