So, I got to see My Name is Khan over the weekend. I would say that the name of the movie is more of an abbreviated version of what the title would have been, if it hadn’t been too long. The main character of the film, Rizvan Khan, spends the entire movie stating one thing, “My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist.” That line should also give you an idea of the subject matter of the film.
I found the movie to be an emotionally-heavy one, with a message that Karan Johar, the director, seemed to be hammering into the viewer’s mind. I applaud the director for being brave enough to choose this subject matter, butI doubt, with all the hatred and prejudice that exists right now against Muslims, that the movie itself will be well-received. Also, the director’s melodramatic handling of the subject, and his inability to tone it down when he should, does make the movie too cheesy at times.
The movie wasn’t as great as I thought it would be, because I enjoy romantic movies. It’s not a love story, but it was a good watch for an evening. While I regret the fact that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the chemistry that usually exists between Shahrukh Khan and Kajol (which was minimized in this film because of the subject matter), it has a good message, one I agree with 100%. The movie was made to give its audience a message, one it focuses on wholeheartedly. The message, namely, that you shouldn’t judge people by their religion, is so simple that one would think that it was obvious. The message, that Muslim people, like all other people, are good and bad should be clear. It’s surprising how often I see the unquestioning portrayal of Muslim people, as a whole, as evil. And it’s surprising how easily people are willing to believe this.
Below I will be discussing the movie, and there will be SPOILERS.
The movie itself was about an autistic man, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He has trouble communicating with the world because he is unable to pick up on the social cues that people put out. He can’t read when someone might need a hug, when someone is joking, or that he shouldn’t be reading Arabic prayers during a candlelight vigil for those that died during 9/11. He hates loud noises, the color yellow, and touching strange people. Despite all of his problems, he is an intelligent man and can function, if not pushed to the limit. He falls in love and marries a woman that he wants to build a life with. That is when prejudice and hatred take something really precious away from him and his wife. Because his name is Khan (a common Muslim/Islamic name in South Asia), his stepson gets bullied and then beaten so badly, that he dies.
While his wife is dealing with the loss of a child and the need to find her child’s murderers, she states that she cannot take care of him. She tells Rizvan to leave. Because of her unguarded words during their last conversation, Rizvan believes that she will come back to him only if he can talk to the U.S. president and convey his message. The rest of the story is about his journey to meet the president of the United States, so that he may tell him that his name is Khan, and he is NOT a terrorist. He saves a small southern town during Hurricane Katrina, he forgives torture and a stabbing, he reports Muslim extremists, and above all, makes friends wherever he goes. In the end, he does succeed and is reunited with the love of his life.
END of SPOILERS
The subject matter was really heavy, and the utter focus on just that subject became kind of draining when we were watching a three hour movie.
Additionally, the story became unrealistic when Rizvan came back to save that small community in Georgia. It was too simplistic, and I kind of felt that it was trivializing the plight of those people that suffered through Hurricane Katrina.
Another problem I had with the movie was that Kajol’s character just abandoned Rizvan when the tragedy happened in her life. I have never lost a child, and I in no way can understand what she was going through, but she married this guy, knowing his limitations. He had disabilities, and she accepted him with all of those, but that acceptance also created a duty. But, when it became too tough, she threw him out of her life. I hated that and couldn’t forgive that lack of loyalty to a man she had made a commitment to. That disconnect between me and the main female lead made it hard to enjoy her character and the movie.
I don’t know what else to say, except, the message is good. The acting is good. The songs are enjoyable. I’d say … watch it if you can.