I removed the part where he gives away the WHOLE PLOT sheesh kabobs.
For Muslims, a long-awaited good guy on the screen
By OMAR SACIRBEY RELIGION NEWS SERVICE
MY NAME IS KHAN
Showing at AMC Theatres Studio 30 Theatres, 2949 Dunvale; Bollywood Cinema 6, 2703 Hwy 6 South; and AMC Theatres First Colony, 3301 Town Center, Sugar Land
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The 100 or so young couples, college students, middle-aged parents and grandmothers in head scarves that packed a movie theater could have been mistaken for an audience in Mumbai, Lahore or any other South Asian city.
They had come to see My Name Is Khan, a new Bollywood film that has shattered box-office records in India and is now making a respectable showing in the United States.
The film features dramatic plot twists and sensitive social subjects but throughout pounds home a tolerant message that the main character learned from his mother: There are two kinds of people in the world, the good guys and the bad guys.
And until recently, Muslims — at least those depicted by Hollywood — have nearly always been the bad guys.
Some of that, however, is changing. A small but growing number of films shown in the U.S. depict Muslims positively, or at least as something other than terrorists. Although creators say Khan is a love story above all, it has not been lost on audiences that the story's hero is a Muslim who preaches messages of peace and tolerance.
“It's nice to see a Muslim hero because we're so used to not seeing that,” said Azam Nizamuddin, a 42-year-old lawyer in Chicago. “Even more important was the spirituality of the central character. They really showed his commitment to God, despite his situation.”
Khan is showing in almost 1,600 movie theaters worldwide, including more than 100 in the U.S.
Set in San Francisco, the film stars Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan in the role of Rizwan Khan, an Indian Muslim immigrant with Asperger syndrome. He courts and marries Mandira, a single Hindu mother with a young son, Sameer. They live happily until the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when Khan's Muslim name makes the family a target of discrimination.
The movie is replete with Islamic references and imagery that would be familiar to Muslims: Khan frequently cites the Quran; bows in prayer at the bus stop and in jail; and takes a compassionate lesson from the story of God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son.
Jack Shaheen, author of Reel Bad Arabs, attributes the growing number of films with sympathetic Muslim characters to more Muslims working in the film industry and a greater cultural sensitivity in Hollywood.
Despite progress, Shaheen said the effect is modest because most of the films with sympathetic Muslim characters are independent, low-budget productions with limited distribution. Without reaching major audiences, negative stereotypes of Muslims will persist, Shaheen said.
**** spoilers for zeitoun ************
A broader-reaching film may not be far off. Director Jonathan Demme is reportedly considering a film based on the award-winning book Zeitoun, which documents the true story of a Syrian-American man who helped rescue residents of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina but landed in jail when police suspected him of being a terrorist.
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Despite its relatively modest distribution in the U.S., Khan has also found fans among non-South Asian audiences as well.
“Tolerance is one of the most important messages that movies need to deliver,” said Stephen Marks of Cambridge, Mass., who saw the movie with two friends. “That's a message that should sell.”