My Name is Khan (2010)

It'll probably be a week before I see it. This post will be updated then. In the mean time, please share thoughts and links in comments if you've seen it, written about it, or read something interesting about the film (as opposed to about what's been made to be controversial circumstances surrounding its release; if you haven't been keeping up, this BBC piece and this one by the NY Times have background). Please try to include alerts for any spoilers.

Long live cinema.

Peace.

Updated:
Links to MNIK reviews: Jun6lee | Anishok | Rhilex | Dunkdaft

39 comments:

Arjavi said...

Hi tbf, I saw it already & simply loved it. Totally curious to know your thoughts since the theme is one i am sure you will find very interesting. I'll be going to see it again.

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks Arjavi, that's great news, I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Kanan said...

Somebody revealed the whole plot on their facebook status. You know how that goes...

theBollywoodFan said...

Oh, *no*...it's never the same after that, is it? I'm reading (or trying hard to read, LOL) only the first and last paragraphs of reviews. Hope you're well, Kanan.

jun6lee said...

My Write-up .. I'd say it's pretty spoiler-free:
http://www.ramchandra.me.uk/blog/archives/2010/02/my-name-is-khan.php

theBollywoodFan said...

Cool post, thanks so much for sharing! The response seems to have been overwhelmingly positive, and I particularly enjoyed your comment on drawing the line in compromise of identity. Rather substantive for a SRK-KJo-Kajol film around V-Day! Great, can't wait to see it!

rhilex said...

Just saw it today, and loved it! Definitely a performance by SRK to silence those who think he can't act. I'd say it's his best yet! It's a great film that really deserves a watch, but don't go in expecting it to be... argh, I don't know. But I went in for the love story, and got a beautiful one. It really is a KJo film at it's core. Better made as a film than a KKHH, but touches your heart in the same way. I hope to write a review tomorrow... Right after the film was over, my cold caught up with me again and now I just feel like crawling into bed! This cold really doesn't know how to die!

theBollywoodFan said...

Awwww, hope you feel better soon, dost!!! At least it's a long weekend.

One would hope SRK silenced with Swades (2004) those disillusioned about his acting ability.

Thank you for pointing out the bit about it being a KJo film at its core. I hope you go into more detail about this in your review, which I'll definitely look forward to!

hannah said...

Hi! I am fairly new to bollywood and your blog has been a favorite since I have learnt so much from it. I especially enjoy the songs' translation as I don't know hindi at all but starting to learn!
I watched MNIK and loved it - difficult not to love Karan Johar's films. I also liked Wake up, Sid and Kurbaan. However, one thing that troubles me is that these films look more and more hollywoodian. I wish to say "Please, please, do not turn bollywood into hollywood!! Bollywood fans will miss what is so distinctive to indian cinema - song AND dance!!"

I like Shahrukh Khan in his serious roles - Swades, Chak de and now MNIK. But Aamir Khan remains my favorite actor and 3i the best film I've seen lately!!

Thx for your blog again!

Sarah said...

When I saw your post was titled "My Name is Khan" I was prepared for a wave of envy. Since you haven't seen it yet, I'll try not to rant about the fact that my sister and I would have to drive four hours to see it, and even that wouldn't be so bad if the winter weather didn't threaten to make it impossible, and our family would think we are crazy. :) But I'm so not ranting.

But seriously, really excited about it, because KJo, SRK and Kajol are a winning combination. (of course, I don't really need to say this, since everyone knows it already) This is, too, pretty much the first time (since my interest in Bollywood is only about four or five months old) that I've had a real awareness of a Hindi film previous to it's release (well, there's 3 idiots but I refuse to think about that, since I haven't seen it yet either)

And despite my envy, I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of it. After all, it was stumbling across your blog that convinced me to find out more about Aamir, so I know you can be trusted. :)

http://pardesigirls.wordpress.com

bollywoodfoodclub said...

spoiler alert!
Nawab, You know the saying "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"...I have nothing to say about SRK's new filum. :) Thought I'd save you the price of a ticket, and more importantly your time, in the rare case that you'd decide to go. But I’m a hypocrite, so I can't keep quiet! Karan Johar tried to make a serious message film with one dimensional characters, chock full of extreme cartoonish stereo types. I think he was trying to do a little Delhi 6 action on religious differences and ended up falling on his face. I think he's the Tyler Perry of Indian cinema. Johar is a provacateur a la Tyler Perry’s lampooning cinema with some Ram Gopal Varma mixed in attempting to tackle subject matter that is out of his league. I will get this out of the way: I still love SRK and Kajol, despite their involvement in this film, but it’s the ridiculous content that I don’t like and the direction of the film and it’s message that I object to. Man, it's such a negative message about people and humanity in general. Karan manages to insult everyone with provocative story telling just to get attention. It's a message that could perhaps be effective to someone with a 12 year old maturity level, but that's about it. You can't take on serious subject matter and lampoon it in my opinion. It wouldn't have worked in India if the message was morphed to include the (many) Bombay bombings vs. the world trade ones which factor in here. Parallel Indian cinema has effectively and sensitively addressed terrorism, and religious/cultural intolerance in many movies, for instance in A Wednesday, Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008), Black Friday , (2004), Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002), and in the Pakastani film, Khuda Ke Liye (2007) to name a few. Johar’s message is that America is a backward, ignorant country, filled with all kinds of racists, with the exception of this small town of "black folks" (Tyler Perry type of film) who are oppressed thus, automatically pure and righteous, but simple, living in a town that looks like it's from 1920. Ridiculous! I've traveled to the south, been to very rural areas of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, etc., basically to towns Johar is trying to replicate, and they aren't like that. I still love SRK and Kajol and actually feel for them getting involved in this project, because they may not have been aware of the spins editing would take. Johar made nothing that offered redemption, only SRK and a few other individuals are the heroes. I didn’t even WANT to post on it because I spit on Karan Johar's ideas and want to give him no attention, except for in this personal rant. ;) Jai Hind! Jai USA! Karan Johar, kiss my ass. :) And to those who are twittering that this movie, "changed their life," I ask what were you like before this film? That statement suggests that if took Johar to open your eyes to ridiculous levels of inhumanity? Idol worship is sometimes (often) blind. To end on a positive note, here are 5 things I liked: 1.SRK and Kajol looked fabulous and their love story was sweet 2. I did like seeing Dr. Olivia from the Young and the Restless playing a reporter in this 3. Fun to see San Francisco, including a shot of the school I worked at, Mission High School, very briefly on screen. 4. I liked SRK’s portrayal of an Asperger's freak out on the street. I used to work with a student much like that when I lived there and he was very distressed by the streets, traffic and street cars, so that was a memorable scene acted well 5. The Islamist Dr. was so evil, but so HOT! Thanks for being my sounding board. All the best! Sita-ji

shell said...

While I respectfully acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their opinion, I would say if you wanted to see this film pre-blog reviews, then still go see it. No movie is ever everyone's cup of tea, some will think it's too strong, some too sweet, some too weak but the great thing is that we each have different tastes. I saw it on the weekend, am seeing it again next weekend and probably won't have my review up until then. On first viewing I was mesmerized and blown away, we'll see if the second viewing stands up to my initial response. No film is without it's flaws, and, while I would probably walk to the ends of the earth for Shah Rukh, I am not blinded by "idol worship" - I can openly admit that I have watched my fair share of sub-par SRK films. So, go and form your own opinion, good, bad or otherwise.

Anishok said...

Hi :) For what it's worth here's my short "review".

http://anisha-lalaland.blogspot.com/2010/02/mnik-on-my-mind.html

theBollywoodFan said...

Hannah: You're always welcome, and thanks so much for your comment and kind words! Always good to know there's a value-add, it's almost purposeless without it. :)

Glad you enjoyed 3i! And thanks for your thoughts on MNIK. KJo has his strengths, and he clearly knows to work them to his films' advantage. I share your concern about Bollywood almost wanting to mirror Hollywood in some ways. Do you think this has more to do with approaches to musicals/inclusion of songs, or with more than just that, e.g. themes/content?

Can't say enough about SRK in Swades, and although I quite enjoyed Chak De India as well, it's Swades that, for me at least, gets better with each viewing!

Do stop by again. And thank you again.

theBollywoodFan said...

Sarah: Thank you and welcome! LOL at the 'so not ranting' comment. Trust me, I know exactly how you must feel. The only reason I caught Aamir's fall movies for a couple years was that it doesn't snow in South and Central Florida. :)

Thankfully, L.A. is a lot better with this (supply-demand at work), and I'm hoping to catch MNIK this coming weekend, or the next, at the latest. It'll be interesting for me too to know what I think about it, from the subject matter alone, I know it'll be easy to relate to, either way. Shall keep you all posted.

Which of Aamir's films have you seen so far? Thanks for your trust, I see I'll have to live up to it! :)

bollywoodfoodclub said...

@ Shell,
My rude comment regarding idol worship was aimed at Johar, not at SRK, who I worship whole heartedly. :) Loved his acting, thought film was horrible. It's the taking on of serious subject manner in MNIK in a surface manner where the error lies in my perspective. Instead of having an overall redemptive impact regarding humanity, it showed masses of idiots, and only a few people with moral integrity. Even in the cheesiest masala Bollywood films there is more depth in characters, and MNIK attempted to be a serious movie with a cartoon cast. I reiterate though that I still loved Khan in it and he acted through the trash of the story. Didn't mean to offend. I am also wondering if one's country or origin plays into how the film is interpreted and differing levels of offense taken? Over at Beth's blog too I noted how Johar was rude about America in his interview with Raj and Pablo (Love Bollywood) when asked about how did he get permission to do such a film, he flippantly replied something like, "I told them I was dong a positive film about the US," or something like this and then laughed. This makes me question his intent and message, was it to heal? Was it merely to judge and provoke?

All the best!
Sita-ji

theBollywoodFan said...

Sita-ji of the Bollywood Food Club: WOAH! That's all. WOAH! :D

Just kidding, of course. It's interesting to know you feel that way, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I haven't ever trusted KJo with best-researched films, but I hope everyone who's seen his films over the years knows what his value-prop is. It sure sounds like it's working for that, the extent of the research notwithstanding.


Man, it's such a negative message about people and humanity in general.

A little surprised by this comment. It's the last thing one would have expected, if the trailers and SRK's tweets were anything to go by.

I'd want this kind of film to be based in India, but then, it was difficult enough to release this film there! (How Rang De Basanti made it is beyond me :D) Also like your reference to Khuda Kay Liye, that's my absolute favorite on the subject, and indeed, the most accurate I've seen on the subject.

I'll probably still go see it, assuming my local theater will start playing it this weekend, which they've committed to, (plus...KAJOL! 8), just so we can talk about it some more. ;)

Cheers.

theBollywoodFan said...

Shell: Thanks for your comment. Definitely agree on how art can be perceived in (literally) as many ways as there are people and experiences.

MNIK is not a film I couldn't wait to see, but it's one I definitely want to see. So I've only been skimming through reviews. Only fair to try best to give the film a fair shot. Either way, I know I'll have plenty to say about this one, in particular. :) Shall look forward to your review too!

theBollywoodFan said...

Anishok: Thanks for the link to your review! I'll stop by in a few. Cheers.

myrna-nora said...

I can't remember if I have ever posted here before, but I love your blog.
I liked MNIK. There were definitely some ridiculous moments, some stereotypes, and the second half of the film was trying to go in too many directions at once. But I really liked the character that SRK created, and I always like Kajol. It’s not a DVD I would buy, but I was glad that I saw it.

theBollywoodFan said...

Myrna-Nora: Thanks! Truly appreciate your comments. SRK-Kajol are a joy to watch. They've conditioned us to, at the very least, make any film somewhat worthwhile with their presence. The bits about the tangents, and the generalizations, is bothersome, though. Thank you for your input.


@ Sita-ji (in reference to your comment to Shell): Sounds like it was KJo being KJo! If I may use an analogy from sports here, you know, it's almost like being at the intersection of Kobe Bryant and Dennis Rodman. :D (And I say this with utmost respect, I'll never know even 1% of what KJo knows of films and filmmaking.) The guy clearly knows his strengths, and know how to exploit them.


...it showed masses of idiots, and only a few people with moral integrity.

No, please, anything but *idiots*! Idiots are the good guys, remember?! ;P

rhilex said...

Okay, finally got around to reviewing it at my blog. After a lot of thinking, I don't think it deserved any more nitpicking and such that KJo's other films, really. Went into that a bit more in my review.

I agree with Shell. No matter how good or bad reviews think the movie is; if you want to see the film, go watch it and decide for yourself. =)

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks, Alex!

As I was saying above in a comment to Shell, one would hope to give all films (look, I still give Akshay Kumar's movies a shot :D) a fair chance, particularly when we have precedence to go by. I'm not at all a KJo fan, but I do enjoy Kajol's performances, so that and the theme mean I'm there.

shell said...

@sita-ji - Upon reading my comment, I sound kind of snarky, but I was not really that offended.

I am also wondering if one's country or origin plays into how the film is interpreted and differing levels of offense taken?

I think this probably plays a huge part in audience reaction. It's difficult to find fault in something you are ignorant of yourself. Although reading yours and Beth's posts I felt obligated to do my own research to see how far off Karan really was.

Thanks theBollywoodFan for letting us use your blog to talk!

theBollywoodFan said...

Shell: Any time, and thank *you*! Must say, given the discussion, my desire to see MNIK has only multiplied! I'm now just trying to not get to the "can't wait" stage during weekdays, LOL.

Sita-ji: I've traveled to rural areas of some southern states, almost can't wait to see the bits of the film you're referring to. Probably better off tabling discussion on my experiences until later. :)

bollywoodfoodclub said...

@ Shell and theBollywoodFan,
XOXO,
I look forward to hearing what you take in on your first(tBF) and second(Shell)viewings. Thanks again for letting me vent. Almost all better now. :)
Sita-ji

theBollywoodFan said...

You're always welcome, Sita-ji. As a neutral, I can already appreciate the many debates (some made to be substantive enough to grab headlines for a week!) the film has stirred. :)

Shall keep you all posted.

Darshit said...

whoa! missd this interesting debate. saw the movie ystrday, unexpectedly, i didn't like it. I am a die hard k.jo fan, but strange that this movie did nothing for me. :-( Read sita-ji 's first comment. Absolultely agree with it. Will get back to full discussion later.

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks for your input Darshit, will look for more. If you write about it, do share a link!

hannah said...

Wow! I was thrilled to get a response from you! I have been posting on Aamir Khan's blog too but never got a response. Well, I know it's different but still you look so much like him :))) Took me a long time to realize it was one of his photos!!!;D

When I was talking about what makes Bollywood distinctive, I was mainly focusing on the song/dance bit because I haven't seen enough bollywood films to know about themes that have already been treated before, such as mentioned by another blogger:A Wednesday, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Black Friday , Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, and Khuda Ke Liye. I'll try to get hold of those to watch. What also appeals to me in Bollywood is the way love/sex scenes are treated. With much more discretion whereas Hollywood leaves nothing to imagination and sometimes borders on porn! For example, compare the scene in Jodhaa Akbar with song "In Lamhon ke daaman mein" with say, the heated scene in the car in "Titanic".
My love for bollywood started with Jodhaa Akbar (love for AR Rahman's music also). Love for AK started with Fanaa and was definitely confirmed with Lagaan! It even got me started learning about cricket... Fanaa also made me discover Kajol and she's my favorite actress. I even think she'd make a delightful Pia in 3i. (Sorry, don't like Kareena much :()
Anyways, coming back to MNIK, I do agree that some parts of the film looked "fake", like the town where Mama Jenny lives. I would however disagree that all white americans are portrayed as racist and stupid (not idiot!!) as Bfoodclub suggests. What about the family next door to the Khans? What the wife did by calling up Mandira showed real care and friendship in my opinion and she is white!
I'm very glad that I can share my thoughts here as I am non-Indian and have very few friends who share my love for bollywood, even among the indian ones!!!

God bless

Darshit said...

Here is my take

Darshit said...

Yes, agree with sita-ji. How this movie could be made in America when such negative vibe about them is there in the movie? I would prefer 'New York' over this. Somewhere that movie is more sincere than MNIK is trying to be. Pretty unacceptable the scenes in small towns, like America is living in a way like early 20th century. How on earth no one, but a bunch of Indians coming to rescue? Not Red-cross even?? and the camera work shows people 'just' watching the news on TV. Trying to show, they do nothing about the 'black' Americans. that's a big fail.

SujoySingha (via Twitter) said...

My #MNIK review: http://bit.ly/9XtBhj

bollywoodfoodclub said...

@hannah,

Regarding your comment: "I would however disagree that all white americans are portrayed as racist and stupid (not idiot!!) as Bfoodclub suggests."

I want to make it clear what I wrote, vs. what you thought I implied through suggestion.

What actually wrote above was:

"one dimensional characters, chock full of extreme cartoonish stereo types."

AND

"Johar’s message is that America is a backward, ignorant country, filled with all kinds of racists, with the exception of this small town of 'black folks'"

AND

"it's such a negative message about people and humanity in general. Karan manages to insult everyone."

I did not imply, as you wrote in your comment, that it was the whites that were made to look like fools(sorry not idiots), it was equal opportunity. Yes there was the ONE reasonable WHITE neighbor, and most of the African Americans were oppressed and saint like, BUT, just in case, there ONE unreasonable BLACK woman (who checked Khan into the luncheon, but told him it was "Christian"; Rizvan's brother was Muslim and and intolerant and cruel, while the sister in law was NICE. There were a host of other bad Muslims too at the mosque under the influence of the radical Islamist Dr.; There were random white people flipping off NRIs in the market, using the term "Paki" which is not used in the USA; there was the racist Hindu Motel owner insulting fellow NRI; There were all people misunderstanding Rizvan's disability. So when I said wrote there were a host of foolish characters, I meant of all races, since they were equally maligned and if not maligned, lampooned. My point was there were very few redeeming characters PERIOD, other than the White neighbor, the earnest young desi journalists, and all black people from the little town. I think a hallmark of racism is to make one person the "exception to the rule" which is what the white neighbor was. So this is why I said it was a negative message about humanity since that kindness was the exception to the rule across the board. I think in real life it's the opposite in that the truly cruel people are the exception the rule.

All the best!
Sita-ji

theBollywoodFan said...

Hannah: Thank you! LOL at your comment on comments. I try to reply to all, truly appreciate the participation. Aamir's flooded with comments, reply for long enough and chances are he'll write back.

All valid points, and interesting to note the role of Jodhaa Akbar! And I liked Kareena in 3i, although I could totally see Kajol playing Pia too. But then, she wouldn't have been in MNIK.

You're always welcome to stop by here, and please discuss at your will!

Darshit and Sujoy: Thanks for the links, guys. I've only skimmed through your posts, shall stop by for a detailed view once I see the film.

Sita-ji: It's so easy to misinterpret or misunderstand text, as you know. I almost get a sense this film has brought out the kind of debate people had over Fanaa. Except, I think it's a lot easier for people to unanimously trash Aamir, LOL, never figured that out, esp. since it's all too obvious who's been making the best films for the last 15 years. (There is a MNIK connection to Fanaa with the scriptwriter, IIRC.) At the end of the day, it's a film, and it's a work of fiction. Isn't it frustrating when a real-world issue is trivialized? There's so much more than we can discuss in volumes upon volumes of books, even, let alone in a film! *Sigh*

hannah said...

Sita-ji: Thanks for taking the time to detail it out. I do agree with what you are saying when explained so thoroughly! As tBF so aptly summarizes it, it is frustrating when a real-world issue is trivialized!
I live in a multi-cultural and multi-religious country (Mauritius) where to outsiders, we all seem to live in such harmony. Well, we relatively do, when compared to other countries. But every time general elections are around the corner, the evil of racism or communalism (as it is referred to here) reappears! I personally experienced it years back when I wanted to marry a muslim, (which did not happen, by the way!). So indeed, this issue touches me in a particular way and I like to see how people deal with it, in films and in the real world.
I hope to get hold of the films you suggested soon.

God bless

Rashmi said...

I waited 1 1/2 years for this???!!!! Aaargh!!!! This movie frustrated me so much! I'm going to give Karan the benefit of the doubt and believe that his heart was in the right place - but the execution was terrible. It was so melodramatic (not that I haven't forgiven other films for this). And just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier, it actually does! The last 30-45 minutes, I just kept muttering 'Are you freakin' kidding me?'. There were a couple of nice moments but not enough to salvage this film. Everything about the flood was stupid. I found the Mama Jenny character insulting - felt like we were back in Zip-a-dee-doo-da land. SRK, though, was quite good. I'm usually not a fan of his acting. Though I do like him, I find him a little over the top. In this, though, he was surprisingly restrained despite where the role could have gone. Another good thing - no silly speech at the end. I was cringing - expecting it. Thankfully, there was none - don't think I would have been able to take it. Kajol is my favorite actress. Having said that, don't know if it was just the role, but I found her incredibly annoying whenever she spoke in English. Can't quite put my finger on it - perhaps she was too abrupt. I hope SRK-Kajol make another movie soon. They are my favorite Jodi and I need something to take away the bitter taste this movie left behind. I'm sure it is difficult to make a message movie. I agree with the comparison to Delhi-6 - felt like I was being hit over the head with the message in that one. I would have preferred something quieter, subtle, without all the unnecessary drama. There was no need for this movie to exist! Hmmm...I wonder if I've complained enough :p Sorry, had to vent somewhere. 

theBollywoodFan said...

Hannah in lovely Mauritius! Great point about the universality of the issue. Communalism has an evil way of appearing every election cycle, and none is immune to it. (Well, at least that's been my experience living in Asia, Africa, Europe, and now, America...)

Excuse my bias here, and I might've already mentioned this, but from the list of movies recommended, I'd definitely highly, higly recommend Khuda Ke Liye. As a Muslim, I can vouch for the accuracy with which it represents the problems internal and external to the people. In so doing, it truly places the accountability where it belongs. You'll have to see it to learn more. ;)


Rashmi: Thanks for sharing your views! I'll reply to your comment in much more detail once I've seen the film, which I've committed to doing this weekend. Particularly interested to see Kajol now!

Isn't it interesting that for a filmy couple that owes it success to melodrama, the primary criticism seems to be that MNIK is too melodramatic? :) I know it's the theme and all, and that melodrama might not be the best fit for it, but still...kinda ironic, given their fan base would be non-existent without love (probably passion!) of melodrama!

Can't wait to see it. More then. Cheers.

Nicole and Mon Voyage said...

Going to see it Sunday, and dragging several Hindi-film-virgin friends with me.

I have a 20-yr old nephew with Asperger's and I am a bit concerned that SRK is overdoing it on the mannerisms (in the trailer, he is). Otherwise, I look very much forward to the new RK-Kajol pairing.