Rated: 1/5 Stars
What do you get when Bollywood takes on a screenplay dealing with the dynamics of a post 9-11 America, gives the reins to Karan Johr, and casts it with top tier stars like Shahrukh Khan and Kajol?
In the case of My Name is Khan, you get a total disaster and a near complete waste of your time.
The fact that the film got rave reviews and broke first week box office records (even beating Avatar in Pakistan and setting the highest first week earnings for a Bollywood film in the States), leaves me wondering just how desperate the Desi (Pakistani/South Asian) diaspora is for a film sensitive to the themes the film botches up.
The movie covers American misconceptions about Islam, interfaith relations, post 9-11 racial attacks, East-West relations, and difficulties the Muslim community encounters in dealing with the government when it comes to terrorism-related issues.
While it seems like there’s a ton of potential here for story development, the film wastes the first hour prancing around the plot, and the last hour suffering from severe A.D.D. Overall the plot is distracted, the transitions are non-existent, and stereotypes are plenty. The movie typecasts not only Americans, but also African Americans, and even Muslims.
There were only two moments that were of any interest of intelligence. In one scene, the main character “Rizvan” (played by SRK) is given an important lesson by his mother. In the wake of riots in India causing a stir between Hindu/Muslim relations, Rizvan’s mother draws a stick figure on a sheet of paper, next to which she draws another stick figure with a bat. Below that, the same stick figure and this time next to it she draws another with a lollipop. She says that the first stick figure in each case is meant to be him, and in both cases, the other stick figure is either beating him with a bat or giving him a lollipop. She then asks Rizvan to tell her which stick figure (the one with the bat or the lollipop) is Hindu, and which one is Muslim. Unable to see the difference, Rizvan learns the lesson that there is no difference in people other than that they are good people with good actions, or bad people with bad actions.
This lesson pops up again later in life when as an adult Rizvan enters a mosque to offer his prayers, where he overhears a respected local doctor inciting a Muslim audience to jihad. Drawing on the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of his son Ismael, the doctor argues that that God demands the sacrifice of Ismael, a blood sacrifice, further adding that if Abraham could offer his own son, then surely the group there can offer their own blood.
Overhearing this, Rizvan disagrees completely. He calls the doctor a liar, stating humbling yet confidently that the story of Abraham and Ismael is one of faith rather than sacrifice. He adds that Abraham knew God would never ask for blood, and with that knowledge he had the faith to know he could offer his son. Rizvan ends up throwing stones at the doctor, a symbolic and proper gesture considering that stones are always thrown at the devil. Yet even with this salvageable piece of the story, the film is undoes itself by feeding into the very stereotypes it tries to pathetically fight. How you ask? Because no one talks openly about jihad in the middle of a prayer hall.