Is “New York” a balanced film?

July 2, 2009

By international standards, Kabir Khan’s “New York” is an extraordinarily ordinary film. It hasn’t impressed critics abroad and reviews in international media haven’t been very charitable.

But even if you were to ignore the mediocre performances and shallow characterisation, “New York” does raise several issues about life for South Asian Americans after 9/11.

Khan says that while researching the film he discovered “a huge volume of prejudice” and at least 1,200 people from different nationalities who were detained on the “basis of suspicion alone”.

“New York” puts the spotlight on that prejudice through the story of Samir, an American of Indian origin who turns to terrorism after he is picked up by the FBI and brutally tortured for months only because he took some photographs of the twin towers for a school project.

The movie already looks set to be a monster hit in India, with massive collections in the first weekend after its release.

It’s got all the ingredients of a blockbuster: a star cast, an emotive story line and a viewpoint very sympathetic to Indians.

Khan is emphatic that unlike most Indian films on terrorism that are often jingoistic “New York” provides “a balanced view“.

But the question is: is it more balanced? Isn’t “New York” a one-sided look at a very complicated issue dividing the world? Isn’t the film likely to fan more hatred and anger with its underlying anti-Americanism?

(Reuters photo: The cast of ‘New York’ poses for a photo at a news conference in Mumbai)

4 comments

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I think New York failed to deliver any message as one viewpoint of the movie says that it is OK to take revenge and the other says that it’s not. Moreover the climax of the movie was very confusing.

Posted by Manish Pant | Report as abusive

It’s an Indian Massala film – made with masaala ingredients that lure audience. So, it can be a success in Indian market by pumping adrenalin , but the factor of a film creating furor and revolt in real life is missing – that goal needs realistic treatment. You will come out of theater with a rising adrenalin level and you will loose it soon.

As it’s mentioned in the review that I am responding to, the film states the issue of Hate-Americans, escalated after the twin towers strike and ensuing trial of innocent suspects and it also balances as the American globalism with elements like Asian officer Irfan Khan and Base ball. But It never shows the guts to catch FBI or an initiative into probing FBI’s ways, though its ready to punish. That is a bit of fanatism, creators would call it cinematic liberty.

This bias can not be undone by mere use of what Bush said about not ordering a torture.

Posted by prasantanu | Report as abusive

It is a film on a very strong and appealing subject but having a typical indian masala. the film left a gruelling question in my mind that was it justified to suspect those 1200 innocent people who were detained and given brutal atrocities. It could have given birth to many sameers.

Posted by HARSH | Report as abusive

“New York” about time we had more movie like these made in india. We need varity. Not everything can be like love aaj kal or kambakata ishq. Why is it other movies which have no subject what so ever impress where as something like new york which is educating to some extent doesn’t get appreciation from critics. Well looked into, well put together, good music, acting, direction, written etc