Archive for March 2, 2010

If you already had an over-dose of MNIK and are suffering from Khanantitis, then you can skip this post. But if you are still curious or loved it so much that you are willing to defend it at any cost, then go ahead and read this post. Fatema Kagalwala saw My Name Is Khan recently and wrote this post.

When creative artists try and push their boundaries but miserably fail time and again, should one condemn the failure of just applaud the effort? The approach one takes on the grand debacle of My Name is Khan depends on what side of this question one is on.

 I had no expectations from the film, only a curiosity. The promos did look sincere and unlike the usual drama. However, twenty minutes into the film, the question above started playing in my head as I anticipated the nature of the rest of the journey.

My Name is Khan is an interesting film and more than any other KJo film is the closest reflection of the maker. Not because it reveals his ideologies or creative quotients or even psyche by any stretch of imagination but because it very genuinely reflects his need to grow out of the limitations he himself has set on himself since his first film. And of course by the choice of his principal school of filmmaking , YRF. In many ways than one My Name is Khan is a product of the fight between his learning, his conditioning, the limited-ness in his world-view it brings and the need to outdo himself, to test the very limitations he has put on himself. This is evident in every choice he makes as the director of this film. And sadly, each one of those choices is still marked by that one thought. Of the common denominator. 

Explanations, expositions, evocative moments which end up being tedious, hammering, spoon-feeding, emphasizing, over-emphasizing, be it messages, moments, emotions, facts, each flaw in the narrative signals at the one thought, the film should not be rejected for lack of understanding. Well, of course subtlety has never been the strength of the maker or the school of cinema he belongs to but to admit, the promos were quite misleading. 

Bad writing aside, the film is yet another example of trying to do something ‘different’, these days that has become ‘realistic’, which means no melodrama, but within the constraints of commercial cinema, which means some drama here and there. And as one would expect, it comes in at the wrongest possible times and in the wrongest possible moments. All those who have watched the film will know of all the events, episodes and manners of expression that I am talking about.

A surprising element of the film was the abuse of film language because of this wish to entertain, create drama, banish stillness, slowness, as they are directly proportionate to boredom. Sweeping shots find abundance usage where there is absolutely no need for drama or grandeur. Lack of time and vastness of the production schedule must have influenced this excessive use of Jimmy Jib single takes and a number of two-shot conversations that should have had proper traditional cutting to emphasize the very emotion it wanted to arouse. You might think this is giving too much attention to a film that does not deserve it, especially in a set-up where the grammar of a shot is hardly understood. But it becomes important to note it here as it clearly reflects the disconnect in the style of the maker and his experimentation. How muchever he may have tried to find a ‘new’ voice, his hand-writing remains the same. And that, sadly, is the biggest failure of the film.

I did come away with a distinct feeling that SRK despite all his megalomania has made a sincere effort to be Raymond Babbit, oh sorry, no, I meant, Rizwan Khan. And so has Karan Johar. It is merely this sincerity that remains. It is all that film is about. And it is quite a strong driving force. Had it not been tempered by other considerations (and a terrible writer) it just might have formed a product, heart-warming if nothing else.

The film, of course is overly ambitious with multiple events and confused messages. It ‘says’ (all of KJo films are always telling you, never showing) it is about love conquering all. All of KJo’s films are always about that anyways. And it tries hard to inspire in little and bigger ways with Rizwan Khan’s ‘innocence’, straight-forward world-view. But unfortunately the maker and writer do not share that world-view and at best the innocence ends up as corny. It’s the same way children are treated in our Hindi films. Rizwan Khan’s character is treated exactly as that. If only here the character had gone out of control of his creator, charted his own journey, he could have saved the film, if not the world.

And I do sincerely pray that K Jo goes back to his style of film-making, make his brand of unimportant cinema which is true to its medium and ideology of entertainment or if the zeal to experiment still persists, even after disastrous products like KANK and MNIK, then he go the whole hog. The towing the line and saying something new just won’t work.