New Delhi: In an atmosphere of polarisation post 9/11, this ‘Khan’ is out to ”repair hearts” and ”sooth souls” with a message of love and compassion to people in the US, as opposed to feeling of hate vengeance for one’s fellow beings.
After Kabir Khan’s ‘New York’ and Rensil D’ Silva’s ‘Kurbaan’, filmmaker Karan Johar’s latest film ‘My Name Is Khan’ seeks to put forth a message of love and compassion as an antidote to the feeling of hate that has marked the atmosphere in the US post 9/11.
The torchbearer of this message is the protagonist of the film Rizwan Khan, a noble soul for whom there are only good human beings and bad human beings, and who does not make a distinction between persons on the basis of religion, faith or community.
Rizwan Khan, a Muslim from the Borivali area of Mumbai, suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism that complicates socialisation. Though, born with the Asperger’s Syndrome, Rizwan is a noble soul, willing to help those in need be it clearing the water logged house of his teacher in India or helping to rehabilitate people in Georgia affected by the Typhoon.
After death of his mother, Rizwan migrates to the US to be with his brother Zakhir where he meets Mandira, a divorcee with a son who runs a hair saloon in the US.
Soon after, Rizwan and Mandira get married. Their blissful life was, however, affected by the 9/11 attacks in the US. The polarisation and anti-Muslim sentiments generated after the terror attack claim life of Mandira’s son Sameer, leading her to part ways with Rizwan.
After 9/11, Rizwan is detained by authorities in the US who mistake his disability for suspicious behaviour.
Following his arrest, he meets Radha, a therapist who helps him deal with his situation and his affliction. Rizwan then begins a journey to meet the US President Obama to clear his name and to win back the love of his beloved.
‘My Name Is Khan’ is about his journey to prove to his beloved that being a ‘Khan’ does not mean he is a terrorist.
With ‘My Name Is Khan’, Karan Johar, who till now has been known for romantic films like ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna’, embarks into unchartered territory.
What is, however, common between his earlier films and ‘My name Is Khan’ is that in the film Rizwan’s love for Mandira serves as a catalyst to present his perspective on the feeling of hate for Muslims in the post 9/11.
For, it is the protagonist’s love for Mandira that makes him embark on the tortuous journey to meet the US President to tell him that ‘My Name Is Khan and I am not a terrorist’.
In this sense, ‘My Name Is Khan’ is a laudable attempt to touch hearts in the US with its message of love and compassion as an antidote to a feeling of hate followed by some sections of US society as also among the Muslims.
In fact, the film is sure to endear itself to the audience in the US with its fresh perspective on the post 9/11 scenario. What would also add to the curiosity level forthe film in the US is the appearance of President Obama look alike playing the US President in a brief cameo as he meets the protagonist.
As an autistic Rizwan, Shahrukh Khan has come up with a good performance, getting ably in the skin of the character.
However, looking at him in the film, one does feel that his portrayal of Rizwan sans his usual style and mannerisms is sure to leave his fans in India and abroad somewhat disappointed.
As a vivacious Mandira, Kajol is in her usual brilliant self. In fact, she complements Shahrukh quite well as the affable and sensitive woman.
Music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy is another high point of the film. Like his previous films, Karan’s latest flick also boasts of high quality music. In fact, numbers like ‘Tere Naina’ and ‘Sajda’ are already topping the music countdown charts.
In a nutshell, ‘My Name Is Khan’, like many of Karan’s earlier films, is tailor made for the US audience. However, in India, the film could meet with a mixed response with many of the fans of ‘King Khan’, especially, in the small towns and cities likely to be disappointed at his latest effort.