There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dress Circle: My Name is Khan

By Abhishek Chatterjee
 Well, it could have been a lot worse. Think women sobbing while continuing to look gorgeous in perfect costumes and make-up, and Shahrukh Khan running in slow motion, with loud temple bells ringing in the background. Karan Johar, or the all grown up KJo, in his latest attempt, thankfully, chucks out his usual film making manual, moves closer to reality and serves up a memorable, almost 'Forrest Gump'-ian character in Rizvan Khan, and well... thats about it.
The film, which not unlike 'Forrest Gump', uses a challenged protagonist as the eyes through which a period of time is examined, in this case the period being between 1983 and 2009. The film masquerades as a love story, but quite clearly has surreptitiously lofty ambitions, and it is on this account that it fails, as it indubitably takes on more than it can handle with any degree of coherence. The value of love and family, Hindu-Muslim harmony, post 9/11 paranoia, Muslim alienation, America's recent turmoil with natural disasters (read Katrina), and the country's new found hope for a better future, are all taken on here.
After Rizvan Khan's step son is killed in a post 9/11 induced, racially motivated attack, his wife leaves him and in a fit of anger asks him to explain his religion to the president of the United States. Suffering from Aspergers Syndrome, Khan is wont to take this literally and sets out to meet the most powerful man in the world with his message, and in the process becomes an unlikely hero across the country. One gets the feeling that if the film had focussed entirely on the protagonist's journey to meet the President, with his message of peace, it could have been more powerful. But instead we are fed needless back stories in flashback after flashback, through numerous vignettes of Khan's life, his love story and his family life. And in doing so, we are introduced to several competent supporting actors who deserve more than the walk on roles they get. Jimmy Shergill, Vinay Pathak, Praveen Dabbas and the divine Sonya Jehan are wasted in the parts they get (which is a real pity). Perhaps only Zarina Wahab, playing Khan's compassionate mother and the 2 young actors playing the journos who take up Khan's case after his incarceration, register any sort of lasting impact on the viewer.
This is of course entirely Shahrukh Khan's film. And King Khan puts in a winning performance as the Aspergers afflicted Rizvan Khan. He is consistent in his portrayal and really gets stuck in to the part. Here's to more such experiments. Kajol, in another effortless turn, supports him well enough but SRK goes one better in this one. The film's music, however is a bit of let down. KJo's films generally have fine sound tracks and Shankar Ehsan Loy don't do justice to the film, apart from a couple of soothing numbers. The writing is mostly good, though inconsistent (watch out for a couple of signature KJo moments).The film, shot with an entirely international crew, is visually arresting, with Ravi K Chandran doing a bang up job with the cinematography. This is a welcome departure for KJo and the film should be seminal in SRK's filmography. Its heart is in the right place, but is let down
by execution. The film's opening sequences raise much hope, only to be belied soon after, as the viewer battles tedium. Kuch kuch hua Karan, but only just.

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