February 11 (Mumbai, Calcutta Tube) In “MY NAME IS KHAN” Hindi Movie – if Shah Rukh lives and breathes Rizwan in what is one of his finest roles, Kajol as Mandira, the vivacious single mother, is also good – as always. The chemistry between them if not always crackling, then heartwarming.
Director Karan Johar is in unfamiliar territory here. No candyfloss romance, no sweet nothings, nobody breaking into song. Just the super intelligent Rizwan, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, his halting voice with his inability to communicate, and his many relationships – with his mother, his brother, and yes, Mandira, and her son Sam.
Film: ‘My Name Is Khan’; Director: Karan Johan: Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Jimmy Shergill, Zarina Wahab
Questions of religious and national identity, of the sense of right and wrong, of combating a certain isolation that comes with a behavioural disorder. But what triumphs over all the complexities unfolding in a tumultuous post 9/11 America is Rizwan Khan and his essential goodness that tells you unwaveringly – his name is Khan and he is not a terrorist.
Move over Rahul, Rizwan is here. Shah Rukh makes the transition from the eternal romantic to the intense Rizwan who finds love and loses it some years later when his Khan identity becomes all important in a tense, suspicious America. You sit through three hours waiting to get a glimpse of Shah Rukh through Rizwan Khan, but it doesn’t happen.
It’s an unlikely romance, not very easy to portray. But it’s dealt with a light touch. There they are sitting on either side of the bed after their wedding with Mandira telling Rizwan, who doesn’t like to be hugged, that this is something they can’t do without touching. It’s a scene that could quite easily have gone wrong, but it doesn’t.
All credit to Karan Johar for that.
Like a piece of music that gradually rises to grand crescendo, ‘My Name Is Khan’ begins with Rizwan as a child with his mother – so good to see Zarina Wahab after such a long time – in a tenement in Mumbai and ends with cheers from the US’ first African American president in a crowded rally.
It’s from his mother that Rizwan learns his first lessons of humanity; as the 1983 Mumbai riots rage outside, she tells the young boy that the world is divided into good people and bad people.
It is this essential humanism that carries Rizwan through from Mumbai to San Francisco where his brother stays, then to the suburb of Banville where he moves in with Mandira and Sam, and even when he is taken to be a terror suspect.
Sam, his ‘only best friend’, is subjected to a vicious race attack because he takes on Rizwan’s surname. Mandira hits back, saying that the worst thing she could have done was marry a Khan and Rizwan is out on the roads – unable to articulate his feelings but backpacking his way across the US to meet ‘president sahib’ so he can tell him: ‘My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.’
It is a road journey through a troubled post 9/11 America towards humanism and the essential goodness of the human spirit.
This is a US where chanting the name of Allah gets you into trouble, where the word terrorist and Khan in conjunction can put you behind bars. Rizwan moves from being a terror suspect to a nationwide hero who exposes a terror mastermind. And then, the man with the mission who travels to Wilhelmina that is literally drowning in a hurricane to supervise a heroic rescue mission.
There’s Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush and Obama too. The US’ first African American president is voted in and, in that final feel good moment Rizwan meets him in front of thousands of people and his goodness is validated.
Plenty of great one liners. When he is refused entry into a presidential fundraiser for the poor in Africa that is only for Christians, he leaves behind $500 saying: ‘This if for those who are not Christians in Africa.’
The music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy is superb. This is not a film without flaws, it is at least 20 minutes too long for one and flags in the pre-interval period, but here is one straight from the heart. It has a message, in these days of tensions over language and religion, one which needs to be heard.
MY NAME IS KHAN REVIW 2
My Name Is Khan: Shah Rukh Khan’s best till date
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5*
- Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Jimmy Shergill, Sonia Jehan
- Director: Karan Johar
Suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, Rizvan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) is detained at the San Francisco airport due to his suspicious co-passengers. We then learn that Rizvan is on journey to meet the US President. As the story unfolds, we get a peek in Rizvan’s life. He was married to Mandira (Kajol) a Hindu single mother. But post 9/11 as the way Americans started looking at Muslims changes, Mandira’s son from first marriage Sam falls victim to a racist attack. Shocked after hearing the reason for his son’s murder, Mandira blames it on Rizvan and his religion. In a fit of anger she yells at Rizvan to go away from her and only come back after telling the US President that, “My Name Is Khan and I am not a Terrorist.” Thus begins Rizvan’s epic journey to meet the US President Obama to clear his name. What encounters he has in his journey and how he finally ends up making the Americans change their outlook towards Muslims forms the rest of the film.
The film opening with an extremely powerful scene of Shah Rukh being pulled up for his suspicious behaviour and strip searched by rude security officers, sets up the tone for what is in store ahead. The first half concentrates more on the romance between Khan and Mandira and some really heartwarming moments like Rizvan taking Mandira to a place she has never been before in her city or childhood sequences of Rizvan and his mother. The second half packs in a bigger punch as the film diversifies into severe sub plots as Khan’s journey comes closer to meeting the newly elected American President. It would spoil the fun if we reveal more of it all here. Shibani Bathija’s script is extremely mature and dialogues by her and Niranjan Iyengar are first rate and applause worthy at many places. However, the last 20 minutes or so the pace drops drastically and the film loses its grip. But nonetheless what keeps you hooked is SRK’s act.
MNIK has been amongst the most awaited films of the year as amongst many reasons the film has been important for being one in which Karan Johar has discarded his usual candy floss treatment. Karan has succeeded in his attempt and given us a film that shall remain memorable forever for Shah Rukh Khan’s extremely endearing act. The King Khan has successfully carried out the difficult part of enacting an Autistic patient suffering from the Asperger’s syndrome. Completely getting under the skin of the character, Shah Rukh has picked up every single nuance of an Asperger’s syndrome patient without making it appeared laboured. Matching him step by step in the acting department is Kajol. Coming together after over 9 years the on screen star couple proves they have no match. Kajol is nothing short of excellent in the film. Her reaction on seeing her son’s dead body will give you goose bumps. Jimmy Shergill and Sonia Jehan playing SRK’s brother and bhabhi are perfectly cast. Tanay Chedda remembered for his roles in Taare Zameen Par and Slumdog Millionaire is outstanding playing the young Rizvan. Zareena Wahab in a short part leaves a very strong impression. All the American actors are just perfect for their parts. Arif Zakaria, Sumeet Raghavan, Anuj Mathur, Parveen Dabas, Navneet Nishan and Sugandha Garg have small but significant roles and they don’t disappoint. The two boys playing Sam are very good.
Technically the film is completely on par with any ‘A grade Hollywood product’ with outstanding camerawork by Ravi K Chandran and editing by Deepa Bhatia. Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music elevates the film to a completely new level. With no lip sync numbers, the songs don’t act as speed breakers but carry the story forward.
My Name Is Khan will prove to be a landmark film in the careers of Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan and of course Kajol. It’s a film with a strong message and is yet very entertaining at the same time. The film actually delivers more than one expected it to. Protests or no protests you will be a fool to miss this one. Go watch it!!
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