Cast & Credit
Rizvan Khan: Shah Rukh Khan
Mandira Rathore: Kajol Devgan
Young Rizvan: Tanay Chheda
Sameer Mandira’s son: Yuvaan Makaar
Rizvan’s Mother: Zarina Wahab
Zakir: Jimmy Shergill
Hasina Zakir’s wife: Sonya Jehan
President Barack Obama: Christopher B. Duncan
Fox Studios & Fox Searchlight Pictures Presents A Film Directed By Karan Johar And Produced By Hiroo Yash Johar and Gauri Khan. Written by Shiban Bathija. Edited by Deeba Bhatia, Photography by Ravi K. Chandran. Music by Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy, Production design by Sharmishta Roy. This film is in Hindi and English, with English subtitles. Running time: 145 Min. This film is not rated.
I feel like if I repeat so much of what has been said good or bad about this film then I will just be one more fish in the sea for or against it and I refuse to be part of the mass effect this one time. And as far as giving you detailed narration of the film, am simply not going to waste my time because I think you should do yourself a favor and go watch the film. You will have nothing to loose and will have killed two birds with one stone...I.e A)Becoming slightly more knowledgeable about a not so Bollywood film and B)You will be up to speed with the rest of the world, how cool is that???!
Moving along, I started my review of this film and halfway through I felt that i was going to end up giving it a bad review and that would discredit what was otherwise a phenomenal performance by Shah Rukh Khan to date. He single handedly carried this film and without him it could have been a total disaster. The film's theme resonates around two very effective messages; One is of hope as characterized by the song " We shall overcome", and the love story of Mandira Lathore and protagonist Rizvan Khan. The second message is that humanity can literally be broken down to two kinds of people, those that are good and those that are bad and we're all influenced by either. Its therefore our choice to be one or the other. Most of the story is narrated by Rizvan Khan through his memoirs to Mandira and the film starts off from the present going back, so if you miss the first part you will definitely have a disconnect with the entire film.
Having said that, Karan Johar was overly ambitious as the director of My Name Is Khan and even though I applaud him for pushing the envelope, I have to say as an American he should have researched more on the cultural aspects of Americans in general as well as putting more effort in the terrorist/torture scenes. Not forgetting an American President watching news from unknown news channel considering all the news channels in the United States?? It's not likely to happen but seeing as this is a film about hope, am inclined to say that President Obama probably does watch other major news channels maybe if just to understand the rest of our world, and thus Karan may not be so far off after all. I still give him credit for even trying to tackle so many social issues in one film. And that is why i have to give mention to scenes from the two parts of the film. First part, goes perfectly well, the songs are great not over the top and we see the love story unfold between Mandira Lathore, a Hindu American single mother and Rizvan Khan, an autistic Indian Muslim man suffering from Aspergers Syndrome and recent transplant to San Francisco. It seems like a match made in heaven and at this point I have concluded this film is going to be the greatest love story ever portrayed on film. Until 9/11 and the aftermath and things fall apart between these two. This moves us to the second part which I truly belief and insist it had some of the greatest scenes but they were not fully developed. Hence, due to lack of proper and current information on American culture, better actors for some roles and not linking the story line well, they came up short of their potential. Nonetheless, Karan manages to pull them off okay. But just to shade light on these specific scenes, for me it was the interrogation scene and the Georgia scene. For the interrogation scene, the man playing the interrogator had to be the worst actor i've ever come across, i didn't believe him one bit. And YES Karan you could have found a better versed actor capable of doing this role with all the spy movies out there. But again, Rizvan came to the rescue saving me the agony of this scene when he reels us into his innocent but yet intelligent mind and his clean heart through the prison cell. He thinks out aloud, as if still jotting down his memoirs to Mandira. He states that the interrogators are angry with him because he's not telling them enough about Al Qaeda; but further reiterates his innocence by saying he doesn't know who the Al Qaeda are and if he only had read on the subject then he could have gotten himself out of predicament he's now in. And i felt that he was telling us that if we searched for the correct information about entities/people then we wouldn't be blindly mislead. An example, the group of Muslims in the mosque that could have ended up as terrorists from the teachings of a radical and fanatic Muslim. Also while still in the cell, Rizvan gets so cold from the freezing temperatures he's been subjected to as part of the torture and all he can think of is asking them to fix the air conditioner. This more than anything else in the film high lighted the kind of human being he is, a simplistic, honest and transparent man that couldn't tell a lie if his life depended on it. If only this was human nature...*sigh*!
My second underdeveloped scene is the infamous Wilhemina (Georgia) scene. I kept swearing i had seen this film before as it looked like a scene from the old south in the 1900s or Roots but worse. The fact that it was thrown in there was an attempt to show a similar link between the struggles of African Americans and Muslims which are by far not the same. But I understand that Karan and Shiban Bathija had the right concept that racism does exist and misunderstood and misrepresented minorities are sometimes ignored by the very government authorities that are supposed to help them (totally out of the Bush Administration and Hurricane Katrina Fiasco I thought); but it was the wrong reference. There were a few funny memorable moments and for some I laughed (The bedroom scene where the author portrays Rizvan who is autistic as a fully functional human being that fulfills his duties as a husband by reading, "Intercouse for Dumbos" and sex is dictated by specific times on his watch); I even cried a little...(Mandira blaming Rizvan for her son Sam's death). Then i was indifferent from there onwards.
I have to give credit to Kajol but feel she has done better in her past roles, also loved Rizvan's mother and her performance is worth noting. The rest of the cast was average therefore won't say much about them.
The film had so much to offer, numerous plots and if only a couple had been thickened it would have been the best film from a Bollywood franchise despite the fact that it's actually an American road film depicting Indian actors. One undeniable thing to take out of this film besides the messages of hope, goodness and equality is the realism in it. Compared to a Hollywood film, it focuses on ordinary lives and social concerns. Hence, it's comparative lack of emphasis upon superficial beauty and glamour makes it even more attractive to me and am sure others. I rest my case by giving all the credit to Shah Rukh Khan who undoubtfully was the Khan in My Name Is Khan. He fulfilled his quest as Rizvan Khan and got the intended message across to the audience. Thus, he was my overall 4.5/5 stars of the film.