My Name is Khan: Gimmicky, average cinema

February 11, 2010

mnikThere is no easy way to say this. In spite of the hype surrounding it and for all the solidarity being expressed and the many, many hours of time and energy being spent  tweeting and talking about it — “My Name is Khan” is a very average, ordinary film that goes as haywire as the debate surrounding it has gone.

Subjects such as racial biases, the aftermath of 9/11 and war on terror are dicey topics to handle in real life, let alone on celluloid, and director Karan Johar falls in the same trap as films like “New York” and his own production “Kurbaan” — he oversimplifies the issue and overstates his message.

The film tells the story of Rizwan Khan, a man afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism which allows him to lead a relatively normal life. However, he has problems understanding complex issues and cannot express emotions like love or sorrow as normal people can.

Brought up in a suburb of Mumbai by his mother (Zarina Wahab), Khan moves to the U.S. after her death, to be with his brother (Jimmy Shergill).

There he meets Mandira (Kajol), an effervescent single mother, who takes an instant liking to Khan. They get married and focus on being good parents to her son Sameer.

However, when the country is hit by 9/11 and racial crime in its aftermath, their family too is shattered. Hoping to make amends, Khan sets off in search of the U.S. president, believing that if he meets him, all will be okay in his little world.

Johar is clearly out of his depth here. The film is on a large scale and beautifully shot, but the story doesn’t live up to even half of that. He cannot seem to decide whether he is making a love story, telling the story of a man’s journey or making a statement on the many biases that pervaded the U.S. after 9/11.

Words like jihad, 9/11 and al Qaeda are thrown around without any context. Khan’s actions seem contrived and totally out of line with the story.

A lot of the supposed emotional moments seem gimmicky, and have too much melodrama. As a result, the acting suffers and even though Khan puts in a restrained performance as Rizwan Khan, Kajol fails to make an impact, coming off as shrill and overbearing at times.

The music is also below par and even though there are some moments of magic, they are very few and far between.

Any film that underestimates its audiences and dumbs down its content is letting itself in for a failure. Coming as it does from people of such calibre as Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, “My Name is Khan” is a huge disappointment.

50 comments

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The reviewer… needs to be seriously start looking out for a job change…

Posted by dsalliance | Report as abusive

Seems like the review has been written by some Sainik or Aamir Fan! This is just 2 pull down the excitement of the movie by making ppl bliv in such crap reviews!

A review if genuine must have a proper & respectable source.

Why is there no name of the reviewer? What are you scared of? Why are you so envious about SRK & MNIK?

Dude! Get some life & I guess u must stay away from reviewing if you don’t have an identity!

Posted by superockstar83 | Report as abusive

Someone’s always got to be the hater. On another note, the story of Shiv Sena, Indian politics, and free speech is breaking world wide, even in US, twitter might make someone smarter yet. That’s cultural clout

Posted by blur_girl | Report as abusive

This is the first independant and honest review that I have read and I appreciate you for the honesty. Most people watch the film and are biased by the actors playing the role (stars) and this colours their review.

I compliment you for being objective and honest.

three cheers for that.

Amit Brahme

Posted by Amit_Brahme | Report as abusive

this is just jealousy m reading in this review……..THE MOVIE IS AWSOME………IT LINKS THE LOVE STORY TO MASSACARE AND IT SHOWS HOW ALL ORDINARY LIVES ARE AFFECTED AFTER RIOTS BUT U SHOULDN1T LEAVE FAITH..KAJOL`S BACK WITH HER CHEEKINESS………BUT THE HIGHLIGHT IS SHAHRUKH KHAN..HE IS THE KING OF BOLLYWOOD………….AND FOR THE WRITER……IF U KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT MOVIE MAKING ANG ACTING Y R U STILL WRITING ON BLOGS.GET A LIFE MAN AND GD LUK WID IT

Posted by ghuman | Report as abusive

SHAHRUKH IS THE KING…….D MOVIE`S AWSOME………AND THE REVIEWER IS A WANNABE HOLLYWOOD SOCIALE

Posted by ghuman | Report as abusive

for u all it will never going to be a good movie as from your birth it is in your blood to hate a good bollywood film

Posted by ssameersin | Report as abusive

A very very very biased review of the movie. Not expected from Reuters. I have personally seen the preview show and I can clearly say that the movie is certainly above average. The of this article, Shilpa Jamkhandikar probably has a very bad taste for music as she goes on to say that the music is below par. The author of this review can probably explain why the songs are on the top of all popular music countdown shows!!
The basic problem why Shilpa Jamkhandikar cannot appreciate this movie is because she has no idea about what autism is and what Asperger’s Syndrome is (besides the fact that it is a autism spectrum). If she knew then she would have been able to appreciate the movie better.
Shilpa Jamkhandikar.

The movie as per me is above average… and the author Shilpa Jamkhandikar as per me should stop writing reviews for movies without understanding of the subject.

Reuters… such shabby reviews are not expected on your site!

Posted by Santanu | Report as abusive

I think the disappointment stems from thinking Karan Johar and Shahrukh and Kajol are of “such calibre”. They are not. They are above average, at best, folks capable of delivering good work once in a while.

Posted by lousystork | Report as abusive

Yes true, very soon the freedom of speech syndrome will take away the jobs of many …. since all will come out and give their opinions and views on twitter… just like the reporter here who has vented out on the pretext of giving a fare review of the movie

Posted by dsalliance | Report as abusive

Why are our film makers still hungover on the 9/11 subject? It is an old story now. And especially Karan Johar and the subject of terrorism just don’t seem to fit.
I am still going to go see the movie though as I am curious. The music of the film is GREAT!

Posted by Sakshi | Report as abusive

9/11 was not a subject it was reality where the world came to know the meaning of TERROISM…

Sakshi – get a life… its the real world where muslims in US are being targetted because of this one attack….

Posted by dsalliance | Report as abusive

Reuters (fortunately) is the only unbiased news agency left in the country. The others feel its more important to report on SRK and let the jawans freeze in the avalanche. Since when did media channels stop reporting and start taking sides?
Shilpa has a mind of her own (and I agree with her review). People have a mind of their own too. Those who do not agree should pick up the patriotic hat and go see the movie (which is what it is made out to be) It’s a movie for heaven’s sake !
Keep up the good unbiased work, reuters and Shilpa!
Don’t let people pull you down.

Posted by pensieve | Report as abusive

This is what happens to a over hyped movie. Thanks for saving my GBP£10, thought of seeing the movie but will wait for the torrents..

Posted by amma | Report as abusive

Dear SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR!!! This message goes out to those who didn’t see your NAME against the review. I know you’re not a nameless Shiv Sainik as some of the other comments seem to suggest. I love Shah Rukh Khan. I hate Kajol. And, I think Karan Johar needs to change the way he laughs – Ngah ngah ngah!

If Nikhat Kazmi gave five stars to MNIK, I think you deserve the star factory for this review. As I’ve said in the past, I like your reviews because you don’t hold back the punches, which some may feel are below the belt.

I will still see MNIK. Have seen Khuda Kay Liye, New York and Kurbaan. Will add this to my list of achievements.

One word of advice for SRK – You should pair with Gul Panag. I love her. Have asked her to act in a Malayalam movie. Maybe, you should too. But, avoid Priyadarshan!

Posted by yadayadayada | Report as abusive

Even today scores of movies are made based on Indo-Pak war… or World Wars… or Indian Freedom Struggle…. so what’s wrong in making movies based on 9/11??

9/11 was a incident which will remain in our memories for years to come. So whats wrong in making movies based on the aftermath of 9/11??

Ms.Shilpa Jamkhandikar please do not criticize something just for the sake of criticizing.

P.S.: Do you think you are the only intelligent one? People of this country are a billion idiots to go and watch this movie?? The shows have been houseful and viewers have been giving thumbs up to the movie!! :-)

Posted by Santanu | Report as abusive

I think this s very Honest review. People need to look beyond the entertainment aspect of the movie. Karan Johar is just selecting very specific topics to sensationalize it on screen. Way to go Shilpa..you are one of the few people who did not talk about how great the actors are; but in fact talked about the ‘film’.
I will definitely encourage you to keep doing what you do!!

Posted by starlight23 | Report as abusive

for everyone who didn’t find the reviewer’s name, search for text: Posted by: Shilpa Jamkhandikar. Now you all will come biting me but common…you can’t be serious that the movie is great, awesome. i think she made a great point with it being very very ordinary. Its a move from KJo-SRK all goodie-goodie films but this is nothing new. We have seen it all heard it all about racial profiling and how our hero is sane and good. boring!!

Posted by madmessmoving | Report as abusive

‘Rain Man’ meets ‘Forrest Gump’ in spiced up curry dramatic adventure under the warm blanket of Islam in semi realistic setting.

It definitely didn’t meet my expectations after the huge hype. The movie had enough potential to be outstanding was it not that you felt they tried too hard and failed to impress on crucial moments. Universal issues with the actuality of a post 9/11 world have been caricaturized.

Overall entertaining and the message has been delivered.

Posted by rezaketwaru | Report as abusive

I am sure who reviews this movie was not in good mood or having some family problem, its very pathetic review. i shaw film it is very nice simple movie.

Posted by Eram | Report as abusive

frankly, i think this is a scam.. of putting a bad / average review so that the webpage can get hits :)

Posted by dsalliance | Report as abusive

I don’t know if the reviewer has similar feelings about 3 idiots…

for those of you movie buffs who havenot seen this review, pls take a look….

http://www.naachgaana.com/2009/12/26/abz ees-concerns-and-criticism-of-3-idiots/

aren’t most bollywood films barring a rare few, a remix and hyper-emoting fanfare with little ambition of making genuinely great cinema!!

Posted by KRG | Report as abusive

“Coming as it does from people of such calibre as Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol” ROFL, I can sense the irony here. I havent seen the movie, but most movies from KJ stable are shite. Devout crap.

Posted by denser | Report as abusive

nowdays its a trend just going against some good things, to get publicity for themeselve, i don’t understand who want to highlight himself here Reuters or Shilpa Jamkhandikar!! this movie is not as bad this reviews shows.

Posted by Eram | Report as abusive

yes it is a very simple nice movie…maybe the reviewer was in a bad mood :)

Posted by dsalliance | Report as abusive

Good unbiased and objective review by Jamkhandikar. Thank you.

Posted by indianexpat | Report as abusive

Its great to read your blog. The reality is otherwise. Blogging is all about your opinion expressed in crude form. In reality SRK, Kajol and KJ have worked hard to highlight an issue which has touched all lives all over. The idea behind it (MNIK) like any other movie is to entertain, not present a thesis.Take the moral of the story, appreciate the efforts, enjoy and relax. Unfortunately your efforts do not undermine MNIK. The job of a critic is to highlight where they didn’t do well and what they should have done better. Blogging if its livelyhood, goodluck.

Posted by Kiaora | Report as abusive

The agree with this review. The movie is average and most of the times painful to watch. Karan Johar could have done a far better job than this.

Thanks again for a fair and honest review Reuters!

The Times of India reviewer Nikhat Kazmi was definitely smoking something when she gave a 5-star rating in her review!

Posted by SevenHills | Report as abusive

ohhh! i can’t believe this reviews by Reuters, i had so much respect for reuters, but sad its now loosing power like Shivsena. avoid negative mind. let the love flow. i thing The reviewer was expecting some violent type movie from khan, he forgot or don’t know, SRK is king of LOVE & HUMANITY. watch MNIK to realize the truth.

Posted by Eram | Report as abusive

I agree this reviewer needs to change his job.. For ppl to appreciate this movie they need to first appreciate the complexity of the world around them, the increasing conflicts, fight for religion, space and resources. The movie has a very contemporary theme which has been handled very delicately without any overbearing influences such as from over the top music, brainless humor or skin show things that I feel the “non-thinking” movie goer has gotten used to.

Posted by ankita03 | Report as abusive

I agree with the review, I have watched the movie and it was indeed disappointing and same was the opinion from my cousins + same from the people, who were walking out from the multiplex, after watching this movie. I found not enough logic in the movie, pretty impractical also. If the movie was meant only for entertainment, again, the movie wasn’t quite there. Well, surprisingly, all the comments showing up in this blog is positive. Reuters is giving a negative outlook and the blog contains only the positive comments! Interesting . . .

Posted by UD01 | Report as abusive

y dont u come n make a good movie !! the reviewer himself had not seen the movie just blindly review giving >>
superb acting by SRK !! worth a watch movie ….

Posted by Jenni | Report as abusive

if there any provision, Reuters can change thier reviews!!!!

Posted by Eram | Report as abusive

I saw the movie 2 hours back. I completely agree with Shilpa’s review. The movie is an average movie. Story has been handled in an extremeley ordinary manner. Shahrukh looks greatly convincing in his role. Kajol is loud & unbearable. No wonder she encourages Rizwan in the movie not to be afraid of ‘loud sound’(1st interaction between them). Various dates thrown into the movies are little irrelevant & end up prolonging the story.

1st half is slow & quite boring. 2nd half is pacy & slightly more interesting.I also thought that the 9/11 incident & the ‘racist’ death of Sam (son)happening in 2007 were poorly connected. Both the scenes almost seemed to happen one-after-another though actually they were about 6 years apart.(Maybe I missed a date thrown in between)

Yet it delivers two powerful messages

1) My name is Khan and I am not a Terrorist
2) There are only two types of people. Good people & Bad People. And how much we loved to see the Bad people ‘failing’ in their attempt to stall the movie.

My respect for ShahRukh has gone up tremendously for the stand that he took & sticking to it till the end.

Long Live Freedom. Live & Let Live.

Posted by bondgemsbond | Report as abusive

Its almost as if people expect a good review of a film just because it faced flak for other reasons. Lets face it the reviewer has never failed to criticise all movies for their failings and this one has not been spared.

Being a fan of SRK is one thing and a movie critic another (and the two if they do meet is what you get in most newspapers). Lets face it, the movie may not be the best made by Johar or SRK, and its all right. The next one might be better and that would merit a better review.

Posted by Gobblygook | Report as abusive

I rate this as a good review..a critic has to be unbaised by the ensemble of cast or the weight of the production house.. which i think you are .. as i am tired of reviews where they are all ga ga.. 5 starts and all.. and then u build expectations just to figure that it was not worth the extreme praise..

no doubt we love are stars & some times cannot take a thing agst them.. that’s what appears in the blogs written over.. but guys we need to understand it’s only a movie review. a movie may be good.. or u may like.. but if there are somethings not so convincing abt it.. it has to be written. Shipla.. saw your review on 3 Idiots. It was bang on too…

Posted by Rupesh_Thakkar | Report as abusive

It is a waste to have a fight on a topic which is already a controversial HIT !!! Also, except the acting of Shahrukh Khan, nothing is good in this movie. The hardwork of SRK is clearly depicted ih his brilliant acting…. :)

Posted by asdave85 | Report as abusive

Very good and unbiased review. SRKs portrayal of muslims as victims of some imagined insults is sharply contrasted by the reality that islam and muslims have been the perpetrators of unimaginable terrorist acts. Acting is mediocre (forget the fans, they will lap up any muck from their stars) coming from talented actors, but that is the fault of weak direction. Story and characters could have been explored with great sensitivity to make a unforgettable cinematic experience, but that was not to be. Typical of Mumbai society, the film is crudely commercial trying overdoses of melodrama and emotion and the length makes it truly tedious. OK for fans. 3 on 5 is ok for this film. In a years time nobody will remember it.

Posted by kpvidya1999 | Report as abusive

I really liked the review due to its honesty and independence of view. For a movie with big names and so much hype (unintentional or staged), it is easy to go in a theatre and pretend to like it as everybody else even if you don’t like it. Appreciate your review and keep reviewing more movies in the future.

Posted by nikhil1mishra | Report as abusive

thank God at last I found some unbiased review of this Deliberately hyped movie. People are blind or acted as blind while watching srk movie. This is avg movie and if that much of drama is not being created then Definitely it would be below avg movie. And exactly what karan and srk had realised so early and created that DRAMA.

Posted by n_sr9 | Report as abusive

This is an excellent review, truly unclouded by the artificial hype surrounding the movie. SRK is a master bluffer, creating unnessary controversy just before the release of the movie. As depicted in Rann, most of the media channels were hand in gloves with the MNIK team and the Shiv-Sena to create sensation around the release of the movie. Media channels even went to the extent of naming SRK a real life hero, what a shame – the guy is just interested in ensuring his movie is successful!! Well done Shilpa…..

Posted by rohit_ah | Report as abusive

I too disappointed with the movie even though am a great fan of SRK and Kajol. Guys…..pls be genuine while giving your comments.

Good review Shilpa.

Posted by skp | Report as abusive

The one truly honest review. Rest are all planted by KJ and SRK. This will rank as one of the most listless and dull movie I have seen. There was zero emotional attachment with any characters

Posted by ng123 | Report as abusive

Look guys and gals, do not get over blown by the hype. I just checked out the flick. Here are my unbiased points.
1) Too much to cramp in 3 hour flick. Thank god the songs were pulled from full length.
2) It has too much melodrama.
3) It is way too preachy.
4) Totally predictable.
5) Unreal. The homes, clothes, hair style, all bloody fake and unreal for the characters. The hurricane scene is so horrible. Do you think the American police is so dumb that they cant crack a soccer murder? Come on. Get real.
6) Far stretched situational scenes to make up the story, wait, the preaching. Basically, its a filler for most part.
7) Over acting, except the crying scene by Kajol, which was pretty good. SRK is over acting all over and never felt the character. His dress code should have been relaxed, way relaxed. Overall, a goof up by Karan Johar and his dress crew.

It gets the mark for attempt though. SRK was abused at EWR. It’s his way of getting back. You have to give it to Karan and Gauri for producing the same.

Posted by zhakaas | Report as abusive

Alas! There is nothing original or even worthwhile about the three hour waste on the movie. Shah Rukh Khan is never original. In this movie he is pathetically trying to ape Dustin Hoffman of Rain Man. And the autistic character has pretty little relevance in the central theme.Is Karan Johar trying to draw mileage from the autism and the 9/11 subject in one go? Or did he just saw Rain Man (actually I have often wondered why nobody until now made a copy of Rain man, since most “good” Hindi movies have their originals in Hollywood!)?. The 9/11 aftermath has been portrayed too many times on the Hindi screen. Come on, give us a break! Karan Johar is only good at cashing on the Northern useless sentiments.

Posted by Drool | Report as abusive

I am from South Africa and just recently got to see it and I must admit it was really wonderful, The hype around the movie honestly met with my expectations. I knew that SRK would play a character that is autistic and that it centered around the 9/11 attacks, and to be honest I accepted it to be something like NEW YORK but it was totally different in a good way. I cried and laughed and was just amazed at SRKs acting and it was great seeing Kajol back.The reviewer was a bit to critical and simply did not see the movie for it really was!

Posted by ArunaS | Report as abusive

There is no easy way to say this. I do not agree with this review at all.

I liked “My Name is Khan”. It’s way better than ’3 Idiots’ — at least the first half. The second half was a bit of a drag but on the whole, I think this film is Karan Johar’s best work since “Kuch Kuch Hota Hain”.

Shah Rukh Khan portrayed the guy with Asperger’s Syndrome quite well and I won’t be surprised if he takes home some of the acting awards next year.

“My Name is Khan” wasn’t really supposed to be a documentary on the post-9/11 situation, it was about Rizwan Khan’s quest — it is about a task he has to complete — and his journey to meet the president didn’t seem out of line for his character.

I do not completely agree with Nikhat Kazmi’s review in the TOI and the five stars she awarded the film. I agree with Shilpa that some of the media coverage bits of Khan’s hurricane efforts were too melodramatic, but a brilliant ensemble cast (including the woman who played Mama Jenny) made up for it.

Also, Johar shouldn’t have shown the president’s face. The actor didn’t look like Obama at all.

But this is mere cribbing about small nothings. “My Name is Khan” is easily one of the best films of 2010.

I give it 4 stars. Go watch it.

Posted by ToeKnee | Report as abusive

sharukh khan is the best acor india could have .his acting is so natural, he can work in any movie the movie is the best

Posted by shireenf1 | Report as abusive

I watched this yesterday. Wow all the hype
Story: ridiculous. Script poorly written. Initial part of Kojol’s child and his friend was acceptable and well acted. Later the grown up friend was immature.
Actors: SRK WAS acting. It seems he has not matured to quit talking to the audience of how to act. His expressions are exaggerated to the point of being like this was his first role. His depiction of an autistic was grossly exaggerated.
Kojol shouted in the entire movie. Her hyper acting was too much for my old taste.
I think the producer should have picked Amir Khan, though I doubt he would have agreed, to act an autistic person.
The movie was not my cup of tea.

Posted by KipK | Report as abusive

I have to agree with a lot in the review, but I still liked it. It was silly and absurd in parts but Khans movies always seem like that to me – fairy tales and fables.
As for his portrayal of a man with aspergers, I have an uncle with aspergers and Khan had it pretty right on for a certain group.

Posted by davis50 | Report as abusive