His name is Johar and he’s back
My Name is Khan (U/A)
Director: Karan Johar
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol Devgn, Jimmy Shergill and Sonya Jehan
Genre: Coming-of-age Drama
My Name is Khan reunites Hindi Film Industry’s beloved acting couple, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. This time, it’s Khan who makes the brave effort in bringing out an applausive performance as an autistic Muslim. Minutes into the film, you’ll start appreciating the efforts of Karan Johar to recapture a picture perfect America before 9/11. Sadly, there are some clichéd scenes which remind you of Johar’s previous films.
The film quickly moves into the “rediscovering oneself” stage. Screenwriters love this stage where they can write millions of pages on how a man/woman takes on an unknown path and finds a lot of tacky situations that remind him/her of their past and probably the love of their life. Here, Mandira (Kajol) asks Rizvan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) to meet the president and tell him “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.” Well, this line alone would go on to capture millions of hearts.
A death probably slows down the film. But, death can also be a plot point. Here, the death of their son, Sameer (Yuvaan Makaar) is the plot point. His death sparks arguments and results in the journey. So, we have an interesting plot point. Okay, the death isn’t a real imaginable one. But, Makaar plays a worthy role and certainly deserves a mention. When Khan tells President Obama “This is my son Sam. He’s not a terrorist either” You’d want to get up from your seats and clap for the man who employs you to take out your handkerchiefs. Shah Rukh Khan has played Rizvan Khan spectacularly. When Khan speaks towards a certain crowd inside a church in a fictional Georgia town, you’d wonder if Khan, the actor, took on the personality of Khan, the character.
Mandira makes the lonesome lady longing for a man to love her unconditionally and Khan fits the bill. The black costumes which Kajol frequently wears can also be an indication purposely made by Johar to show her loneliness. But, when she befriends Khan, she turns chirpy. Does Khan possess some kind of magic inside him or are people applying sympathy towards his condition.
The best scene in My Name is Khan involves Khan and a handful of African-Americans rebuilding a hurricane hit town. But, when Muslims start aiding them in the process, you may wonder if we really misinterpreted them. As Rizvan’s mother says “There are two kinds of people in this world – Good and Bad.” Shah Rukh Khan’s narration also proves worthy as sometimes you wonder what’s going on.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s background score is hard hitting with folk beats and rhythmic humming. The trio score well in songs such as “Tere Naina”. Despite some cringed holes, Shibani Bathija brings out the grit in her screenplay. When compared to Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, My Name is Khan’s screenplay is less convincing. It’s almost as if she lost herself in there. She brings out a certain group of Muslims in a mosque as terrorists while others like Khan, his brother, Zakir (Jimmy Shergill) and his wife, Haseena (Sonya Jehan) seem to be on the better side of the law. In their supporting roles, Jimmy Shergill and Sonya Jehan make wonders. It’s a really good casting call.
For Karan Johar, My Name is Khan is his fourth directorial venture and this seems to be the turning point in his career after directing three melodramatic soap opera-themed films. For Shah Rukh Khan, this is his prized tulip. For Kajol, this is her career’s renewal.
My Name is Khan has plenty of visuals to keep you seated. At the same time, there are a few clichés which remind you of the melodramas, Johar has previously created. Being the third film about Muslims post 9/11, My Name is Khan may become a breakthrough in Hindi Cinema.