Review of My Name is Khan
Gosh you guys must know by now I’ve been anticipating this film since it was a lil’ ole gleam in Karan Johar’s eye A one sentence blurb in some Bollywood tabloid a couple years ago that said “possibly working on a new film about 9/11 and Muslims”. Ever since then I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially as all these new Indian movies came out featuring Muslims and terrorism (and all the usual stereotypes) over and over again. But they kept saying this wasn’t a film about terrorism, that it was about love. And the way Shahrukh talked about it I knew it was special.
I read a few reviews and opinions after it came out as well and they seemed to be so varied I wasn’t sure what to think at all. Some absolutely loved it. A few said they absolutely hated it. Others said they didn’t like the second half, or they didn’t like the last 1/2 hour or whatever. So, I finally watched it. And honestly I thought it was beautiful.
It does get melodramatic at parts, a little unbelievable at times, a little or a lot Bollywood at times, but I don’t think even I could have made a better film portraying the things I felt and feel about what happened to Muslims in the context of 9/11. Some people may say this film is another pro-secular humanist triumph but it really isn’t. It’s really a film about love and faith.
Acting wise, how great was Shahrukh in this role. King Bollywood himself, and I never saw king bollywood, I only saw Rizwan Khan. His speech and physical acting was perfect. I don’t know anyone with Asperger’s Syndrome but the way he handled it was amazing. Kajol was great. Even the usually weird ‘foreigners’ in Indian films were shown as real people.
I wish this film could have been made 5 years ago, but I think it would have never been possible to make something like this. It’s taken this long to get us to this point where we can examine our past in context and give rights to what is due. And a huge amount of that with all objectivity has to be given to Muslims from whom they were taken away.
The main objective of this film is to show that people can be good or bad regardless of their religion or name. But one thing this film did which no other has done, is show Muslims as practicing people of faith. There is not that divide of good Muslims and bad Muslims ie the one’s who are good are the one’s not practicing and secular and the bad one’s are the one’s who are all religious. Finally normal views of Muslims and their beliefs. They pray, they wear Hijab, they live by the words of the Quran. They are not all terrorists. They did show some “extremists” in their own way, but no one can say that they don’t exist so I think they had to show that.
I am extremely disappointed though that this film is only being marketed to the Bollywood crowd and not as an independent film to Americans. I honestly wish more people could go out and see it. Almost 10 years from 9/11 and we finally have films like this giving me faith again in humanity. Seriously, go watch it.
***** 5 stars/5
Some things I loved:
-The use of Hijab in this film and when Haseena says something like it’s not a cover, it’s my existence. Wow I coulda got up and cheered. An awesome Hijabi character that was actually smart, educated, beautiful, religious and kind!
-When Rizwan just totally pwned all the Muslims in the United States by just going and praying proudly at a rest stop. How awesome.
-That one amazing shot of all the people with boxes coming to help with that music in the background *wow so gorgeous, so Bollywood
-Props to writer dude for finding nice quotes of verses of Quran and the story of Ismail.
-In the crowd when Rizwan says ‘I’m not a terrorist’ and the white guy next to him is like ‘Terrorist? What you’re a terrorist? Terrorist! Aaaaaaah!’ and everyone starts going crazy… funny but too real.
-The Indian hotel owner guy… hilarious. Did you see the sign that said “Khan was here!” haha
- Mama Jenny and the glorious south. Haha loved her character and their scenes.
- I like how in certain contexts they spoke English with a voice-over in Hindi. Finally. Always hated when they showed everyone understanding Hindi in America!
- A love story of a man with a disability marrying a divorced woman with a child. Amazing.
- Rizwan singing the Hindi version along with the We shall Overcome in the church. That was a great remix.
- The coming together of the two brothers after 9/11. Just touching and reminded me how Muslims practicing and non-practicing came together after 9/11 as well.
Some things I didn’t like:
-The way he just walked into a downtown American Mosque and they were preaching Jeehad and hate… jeez.
-The scenes in the jail could have been a little more torturous. Having Rizwan say funny lines during it didnt’ feel like it was bringing the message home. But I do understand this film isn’t meant to be a ‘Rendition’ so couldn’t really show it like that.
-Rizwan marrying a Hindu girl. Yes it’s wrong, but I give them artistic license. Don’t tell me you don’t know any Muslim guys married to non-Muslims. Uh huh.
-The movie went from normal and realistic to fantastical and epic. This change may be hard for non-Bollywood watchers to swallow. For Bollywood lovers this is part of the show
Lastly I’ve read some reviews where Americans were offended or just found some of the treatment he or others as Muslims received as unbelievable. For example the bullying, the airport jail scenes, or even someone said the scene where people at the candlelight vigil moved away from him reciting the Quran. They thought it was ridiculous and would never happen! Well then…let me tell you, I was at a candlelight vigil the night after 9/11 and dressed as obviously Muslim and the same thing happened to us. All I have to say is these are not over the top. They’re a sampling. Stuff like that happens every day to us!! And YES Muslims have been killed because they are Muslims.
Anyways worth the wait in my opinion, the end.