His name is Khan, Her name is Kagalwala & she isnt impressed by his film!

Posted: March 2, 2010 by moifightclub in bollywood, film review, reviews
Tags: , , ,

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.

  1. NK says:

    I think this is too biased and a very personal take on the movie. While the narrative style of the movie may not suit for every one (it certainly did not suit the writer here), it is great for a large no. of other people.

    One of the fundamental principles of any for of communication or media is that the approach should suit the listener/audience and every audience is different. I guess same is the case with every film. While there could be topics on which a single communication can be done to the entire audience, I think there are certain other topics on which you choose for an audience type and the relevant communication way. MNIK again is an example of this. While it suits great to communicate the message to a large number of people (including me), it might have failed completely in communicating the same to another set of people (like the writer of this article).

    I don’t think this can take away anything from the people behind the movie (director, writer or the cast). You may have not liked the end product because it was probably not meant for you. (Would be something similar to saying, if you’re a scientist you’ll appreciate even a very small nuance in a particular science field but not so if you are a sociologist. On the other hand the scientist may not be able to appreciate the sociology part of the things completely)

  2. Fatema says:

    NK – So what would be an objective take on the film? What would be an objective perspective on MNIK like?

  3. Bharathi says:

    u are so right about letting the character have his own journey ..In our movies we are scared to step outside the boundries of a “khushhaal” zindgi….It felt like KJO was in awe of “Rainman” but tempted to create a “khushhaal colorful zindgi” for him with a tadka of 911 thrown in and finally raising him on a hero’s pedestal…

  4. NK says:

    @Fatema, I think that was the point I was trying to make- there cannot be an objective take on any piece of art/creativity (movies included). It depends upon your subjective appreciation/ interpretation of the piece. I guess thats the reason why another critic might have given it a 4 or a 5 star rating but you might end up thinking its a piece of crap. ( A related case is that you’ll find umpteen examples of novels rejected by hundreds of publishers which end up becoming art master pieces and best sellers)

    I guess the way to make it impartial is to try and place yourself in the shoes of another personality type, the kind of people who like these kind of movies ( and thats a huge population for movies like MNIK) and see if the movies still looks good. It may not work for your personality type though. Another example might be the case of 3 idiots which is probably the most successful bolly movie till date. But for me it was just an average movie (having heard all the jokes before as chain of forwarded emails, having read Chetan’s novel for some of the classy sequences and having discussed the situation raised in the movie for umpteen times with friends). while the movie may not have had the same effect on me, it had an enormous effect on people who might have had a different background and thus interpreted the movie differently. I of course cannot take away any credit from creativity of the movie makers for not being able to impress me.

    So the reason I said this was a biased and a very personal view on the movie was exactly this- the movie didn’t work for you and you ended up questioning the creativity levels etc of the people involved. If you’d tried to account for whether the filmmaker was really catering to different audience, and was totally successful in that, I guess it’d have been much more fair.

  5. mogambo says:

    NK… ummmnnn so basically you’re defending a movie that had a divorced, single mom accepting a retarded man’s marriage proposal in a handful of dates? … let alone leaving her son with this person? …. the movie where a retarded person is given a salesman’s job, where he doesnt need to worry abt social interraction at all? … the movie where a boy is killed in a football field in the middle of the day and no one is around? … the movie where the said retarded dude is afraid of the colour yellow but doesn’t mind carrying a big freaking pumpkin?

    If you’re talking abt the same movie then yes i agree completely with you.

  6. Fatema says:

    NK – You are right in everything you say. Objectivity is a much abused word when it comes to art criticism. There can be attempts, inclusive attempts that examine target audience, genre, context and intent. However, this piece in no way was meant to be any of those, and least of all ‘objective’ . The best I have tried to do and always do when I go to watch a KJo film is have an open-minded approach. Sadly, his films always fail to satisfy my sensibilities. In that sense, this is definitely a biassed and personal post. But what’s the point in blogging if I cannot voice my opinion, as biassed and personal as it comes?

    Bharathi – In ‘awe’ of Rainman? You are being generous. I am sure SRK watched that and only that movie in all the years of MNIK’s making and even in his vanity van in between takes. He is, however, sincere. I mean it shows he is trying hard. It’s just too bad he can’t hold the character for more than 2 seconds.

  7. NK says:

    @ Fatema- “But what’s the point in blogging if I cannot voice my opinion, as biassed and personal as it comes?” – Point conceded

    @ Mogambo- Loved the description you gave. Just that in the bigger scheme of the movie, these things were quite immaterial to me as a viewer (and I really think that some of these things are not far fetched but close to how a lot of people might behave in real life). Also just to make it clear the protagonist was not retarded, not even a disorder- it was just a syndrome- Asperger’s syndrome.

  8. jigar says:

    Bullshyt movie, will promote those muslim boys to make Hindu innocents girls fall into love with them and then convert them too in Islam, wonder why SRK and Johar didn’t think of impact or side effect of this kind of film? Now those single Hindu girls, widdow or poor will have more chance to fall in love with those illegals muslims men who seeks green card and legal documents too. Very Bad movie BS

  9. Fatema says:

    Awesome Jigar! NK/Mogambo, you got something to say to him?

  10. NK says:

    hahaha . . . Guess there could be nothing better if it could make people fall in love irrespective of their caste, creed or color!

  11. mogambo says:

    Well said Jigar. And i thought NK needed his head examined.

  12. Fatema says:

    NK – Now even though that’s a VERY K Jo type of thought it is one after my own heart! Amen!

  13. mogambo says:

    There’s twi-hards and there’s SRK fans. Trying to talk some sense into them is like banging your head against a brick wall.

    I bow to widdow jigar, the poor legals man who summed it up so well – BS.

  14. NK says:

    @ mogambo- I guess that’s the definition of a fan! Don’t talk sense to them. You can never turn them against there idols 🙂

  15. mogambo says:

    so you agree that they are senseless

    ANYWAY last comment here, since no one bothered to write about how good this writeup was let me be the first. Well written! Although a bit over-analysed since its a simplistic movie 🙂

  16. Fatema says:

    Lol Mogambo, over-analysis indeed but not of the film but the maker’s creative imbalance 🙂

  17. filmikeeda says:

    Khan from epiglot…yuck

  18. filmikeeda says:

    I finally saw MNIK. Such a relief – that I survived yet another hindi film…


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