My Name is Khan (MNIK for the rest of the review): Movie Review

I don’t know where to start. There are several problems with this movie.

Karan Johar has tried to weave too many themes into this movie. Autism, 9/11, Islam, World Peace, Romance, Parenthood – and a Hurricane thrown in just for good measure.

The two biggest themes in this movie – Autism and 9/11 – were also the ones with the biggest problems.

Autism

Shah Rukh has always been what I consider a ‘poor in demanding roles’ actor. Roles that require attention to detail – where one needs to get ‘into character’ as opposed to simply copying a character – are not his forte. Devdas (2002) was a prime example of why Shah Rukh needed to work on his acting skills.
It is eight years later – and he could still use some acting lessons. His attempt to play an autistic character was a mish-mash of material stolen from Rainman, Forrest Gump and ‘I am Sam’. Except – he wasn’t nearly as convincing as any of these characters. Even the flop hindi copy of ‘I am Sam’ (called Main Aisa hi Hoon) – had Ajay Devgan doing a better job than Shah Rukh in ‘My Name is Khan’.

I left the theater convinced that the only realistic display of autism was in the segment of audience cheering in parts of this movie.

9/11 and the treatment of Muslims in the U.S. in its aftermath

Granted – there is a message here – and that there was reason for Muslims in America to fear for their safety. Granted also that there were unreasonable attacks on ‘turbaned’ as well as other stereotyped individuals in the wake of 9/11 as portrayed in the movie. However – once again – the problem was in the ‘messenger’ – and not the message.
It was poorly conveyed. Here though, Shah-Rukh is not alone in shouldering the blame. The director could have done a far better job – as several other post 9/11 movies have. In fact, the somewhat less successful New York (starring John Abraham) – was far more realistic and hard-hitting in this regard.

Script

In a recent Bollywood award show, Shri. Javed Akhtar was awarded a lifetime achievement award for some of his exceptional writing for over 40 years. His acceptance speech contained an admonition to Bollywood movie makers (visualize a wagging finger as Javed Akhtar utters the following words) – “A movie without a good script – is just not a good movie”. It may contain advanced special effects, great music and a great cast – however – without a script – it is like a ship without a compass. It will float aimlessly – and will lose the audience. MNIK lost me from the very beginning and I was lost throughout. There is not a memorable line in the movie – except a few well known platitudes – which lacked good delivery.

Music

This is perhaps the only area where I would give MNIK a couple of points. ‘Sajda’ and ‘Tere Naina’ are catchy and memorable tunes – and perhaps worth downloading (legally of course).

In Summary…

As if there weren’t enough problems with this movie, the whole Hurricane Katrina angle only made things worse. A simple 5 minutes may have been tolerable – but 30 minutes into the soaked heartland of Georgia – as you watch the entire cast wading in knee-deep water – you are left wondering if you wouldn’t actually be better off in the midst of Katrina than being stuck in this movie theater.

My name is Anuj – and I am not (in the least) impressed

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