Friday, February 19, 2010

My name is Khan - Overrated and a bad advertisement for a mature Industry

For all the great reviews, 24*7 publicity and star cast, My name is Khan didn't work for me. To get to the point straight away, why the movie fails - 

  • It is not the best Hindi movie made on the post 9/11 condition. So many things are simplified, exaggerated, unrealistic and incredulous for it to work. 
  • It is neither a good romantic movie. The SRK-Kajol pair has been wasted. Except for some brief sparks (the only thing that sustains the movie), there is nothing to potentially recreate their onscreen magic. 
  • It is not the best advertisement for Shah Rukh Khan's acting. If you say, Vikram acted well in Pithamagan, then probably you would feel SRK has acted well too. But if an actor -because of the character's supposed limitation (autism is the reason here) - is allowed only one expression throughout the movie, then I wouldn't think there is any scope to emote in the first place leave alone doing that well!
  • The narration too suffers from SRK's affliction in the movie. Able to lend neither weight nor humor, it is the weakest aspect of the movie. It doesn't move the viewer nor does it make him laugh whole heartedly. 
  •  The songs - 3 of them - are by no means apt for a movie of this magnitude. The music is just average. There is nothing great about the songs for the viewer to remember. Nothing of the class of "Yun hi chala" (Swades) to take home.
  • Story - It tries to be all romance in the 1st hour and after that the switch to heavier identity issues is abrupt and awkward.
  • Amateurish sequences - Some sequences are too amateurish. When SRK tries to meet the US President, the tactics he uses to take an example. When a movie like New York could effortlessly use English in dialogues to lend credence, MNIK resorts to melodramatic hindi!
What works or what sustains the movie?

  • Kajol's acting - If there is one reason to see MNIK, it would be Kajol's acting. When she is happy, the viewer shares her happiness and when she is grief-stricken, the viewer is moved to tears. 
  • Some standout scenes - there are some scenes in the movie that stand out for their simplicity and by consequence demonstrate what could have been possible. When SRK as a child is taught about the only two communities - the good and the bad - through an example and when Jimmy shergill's wife is attacked for wearing the hijab. 
The bottom line is that critics have allowed themselves to be swayed by the star power and the hype.  It is just another Karan Johar flick, a poor one at that! 

 Watch MNIK if you have to for Kajol! Else, get a DVD of New York.


RAVI said...

I thought Vikram acted well in "SETHU" Rather than Pithamagan(Frankly).But he got a National Award for that. To be frank i liked his portrayal. Then coming to MNIK Shahrukh is always a man who will endure ehthusiasm to his films(But i don't like him).But in MNIK i thought there were too many promotions and controversies made and created a huge hype. So because the hype created you might feel its quite underrated to ur expectation levels :)

Santosh Anand said...

though its acceptable to say that there is only one emotion for SRK through out the movie (tho i havent watched it yet.. nor will i ever i guess), i felt through promos and stills that he did get into the character of the person who has Autism problem. An amateur actor wouldnt have been able to get into skin of the character

Shiva said...

@ Ravi: Yes, the hype might be at fault here.

We can agree to disagree about Vikram in Pithamagan :)

@ Santosh: Agree with you. another actor might not have managed even that. But SRK could have done better. I still don't get why a man with Autism was necessary to show that human beings can be inherently and intentionally good!

fx20736 said...

All of us enter a cinema hall with an array of expectations, hopes, prejudices, etc. about the film we are about to see. Unlike watching a film on TV or DVD where the motive might be boredom, pass the time, family member watching, etc., going to cinema is a conscious act. So if you are someone who went to see MNIK on opening weekend what was your motive? Are you a fan of SRK? or Karan Johar films? Were you caught up in the hype? Perhaps the subject of Aspberger's Syndrome has meaning to you.

We cannot separate our expectations from what unfolds. Each moment of the film plays against our own internal dialogue which evolves as the reels play on and our expectations gradually get replaced by the experience of watching.

I eagerly awaited the opening of MNIK for months so there was too much of that dialogue in my head the the 1st time I saw it last Friday. Yes I enjoyed the film but I expected a rapturous experience, a perfect resonance of seamless story, acting, directing, cinematography and music so in a way I felt slightly disappointed at first. But then the day after I began thinking about the movie frequently so I went and saw it again last night. This time there wasn't so much noise in my mind. As a result I can say it is fantastic movie that is very moving and uplifting.

going back to our expecations, at the core of those expectations lies the very notion of what movies are to us. Are they just entertainment, distraction, diversion, time killers? Are they cathartic therapy? Or are they something more? Does a good film elucidate some feelings or thoughts within us in a way more powerfully than we could express ourselves?

If you don't look for that illumination and merely want to be amused than I suggest you try video games.

Finally there is another reason certain people watch films. That is to dissect and criticze them. Some of this analysis can be very helpful as is done by critics who help us decide sometimes if we should invest the time and money in going to a film but some is done by those with a streak of misanthropy or nihilism who prefer to decry every thing in a movie that is not literally true or completely plausible and reduce and atomize every film. There is hardly a film that can stand up to that attack. So if your intent is to watch a film like MNIK only to criticize Johar or SRK or the scriptwriter than by all means. There is plenty of ammunition. In fact in the opening scene Rizvan misses his American Airlines flight due to the TSA agents searching him so he takes a bus. Wouldn't he just get exchange ticket for the next flight? Surely the decision to go by bus instead seems a bit silly? There lots of examples in movies where someone could stand up and say that but miss the deeper reason for the story which is about discovery and transformation,

Shiva said...

@ Tim: Thank you for your detailed view point.

My motive: I was curious about the subject which is the post 9/11 churning of identity in this case.

To me, movie are just not entertainment only. I expect that they inform and enrich my perspective. I generally try not to have any conclusion/prejudice when seeing a movie.

My intent was not to criticize for the sake of criticizing.

with respect to your views on MNIK, I am glad that you found it "uplifting" but I rue the fact that it had so much potential considering the story and the star cast but couldn't realize it!

fx20736 said...


Could the movie have been a mind-blowing experience that transformed the way we watch movies or view Muslims in America?

Sayad lekin you should know better when you have a Khan/ Kajol/ Karan assembly. For all that it says about the topics it covers it still an entertainer, full of humor, drama, tragedy, pathos and catharsis. If you want groundbreaking film making you need to go elsewhere.

As an American who has only recently discovered Bollywood in the past few years I can say without a doubt that NO American Hollywood Studio film made in the past 3 years is as good as MNIK.
American movies are assembly line junk whether they are CGI special f/x end of world fantasies such as Transfomers, 2012, Armageddon, Knowing, Deep Impact, etc. or post apocalyptic tales full of grisly violence; Book of Ely, I am Legend, etc. or crass,crude sophmoric sex comedies that utterly demean women. The Hangover, Something about Mary.etc.

It is almost impossible to find a decent movie that you can take your whole family to. All of my favorite American movies are Rated 'R' which are not suitable for my kids and all the Hollywood films that are PG are just awful and boring.

Bollywood on the other hand makes nice, good looking films with good music, khubsurat larkiyan and happy endings.

$$ said...

I shall get back after watching the movie!! Spaced reserved! ;) ;)

Shiva said...

@Tim: No, it was not a mind blowing experience and probably I was looking for ground breaking cinematic experience.

I am glad that you are in love with bollywood!! :)

@ Shalini: Sure, will wait for your comment :)

Khan said...

I think the controversy made it all look like a hype otherwise SRK has his own long list of followeres and that his what works for him .

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