February 18, 2010

My Name is Khan film review

The top three reasons why this movie is worth watching

Shah Rukh Khan's welcome-change performance
The SRK - Kajol chemistry
Wizardry of Ravi K Chandran with the camera
The last time you ever felt the Khan magic was in movies like Swades, Don and Chak De India. This time again it is the Khan magic that keeps MNIK going. In fact it is all the more the Khan factor that makes the difference as we did not have a Ashutosh Gowariker or a Faran Akthar or an Amit Shimin to share the credit of making a good movie. However I would not want to overrate Khan's performance in the movie and make it sound like an award winning performance of his. It is refreshing to see him in such a role after seeing him play the usual run-of-the-mill kinds in the last few movies of his. He can now calmly go back to his formula rom-coms in the next couple of movies, apparently the only thing he does best even when in sleep.

The movie begins with Rizvan Khan embarking on a journey to meet the President of United States and tell him that he is Khan and that he is not a terrorist. Why would he do that? Because Mandira(Kajol), after a personal tragic event, in a fit of rage wanted him to return back to her only after he met the President. The analogy being that meeting the President is an impossible thing and the cause of the tragedy was almost as unpardonable. The event separates both of them and Rizvan who is madly in love with Mandira wants to get back to her. A person challenged with autism, Rizvan is someone who applies his senses more rationally than emotionally, he is intelligent, straight foward and of course very lovable. Rizvan continues to narrate his journey as writings to Mandira in his scribble book, while he narrates the journey of his life to the audience.

The intial meetings between Rizvan and Mandira and how they eventually grow into each other are probably the most 'feel good' parts of the movie. These bring the beautiful chemistry between SRK and Kajol, what we got to see after years, the last being in Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham. The 'marry-me' episodes between Rizvan and Mandira are subtle and mildly hilarious yet does not compromise on some mature romance in the movie. Thanks to Karan Johar, this time he didnt have SRK and Kajol wear colorful clothes and do their songs running around the trees. One would surely be delighted with the first half of the movie that has the chemistry between SRK and Kajol, the magical on-screen combo from the good old DDLJ days. Kajol still looks fresh and beautiful as we saw her last in KKKG.

The second half of the movie has its own doses of melodrama, cinematic cliches and the predictable sequences that dulls the freshness factor of the movie. Spinning the tale around events of the 9/11 attack is definitely old wine in new bottle. The respite being that it is not overdone like in movies such as New York, rather it is very subtly taken care of while not letting the seriousness dilute either. SRK carries the second half of the movie well on his shoulders which otherwise has a lot of scenes that give you a 'seen-somewhere-before' feeler. Of course, while sequences still being predictable, like the 'somewhere from the blue friendly media' bringing Khan's journey and his good deeds to the eyes of the world or the autistic hero being a messiah during crisis in a hurricane struck county or even the last minute tension-building scene of the hero being stabbed, Karan Johar tries to strike a balance by giving them a better treatment and presentation while it still is Khan who keeps the audience glued to the screen.

The other biggest credit to the movie is the technical crew behind the product. Ravi K Chandran shows why he is still one of the top cinematographers in India through this movie. He has his knack of showing the artists and the locations so beautifully that it keeps the audience absolutely mesmerized while he ensures that it never disturbs the viewers attention. His work is so natural and poignant. Double thumbs up to Shankar, Eshan and Loy for bringing some great music to the movie. 'Sajda' is one song that stirs the soul with some Sufi meltdown while 'Tere Naina' adds to the romance quotient.

MNIK is not a tearjerker, not a path breaking movie, but definitely a good heartwarming one to watch. When you walk out of the theater what leaves a lingering effect in your mind is one name and the name is 'Khan'.

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