Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Name Is Khan. Yes. The Fillum...

So I watched MNIK today. After various attempts by me at diverting attention from this possibility (like organising sporadic protests against SRK, recruiting goondas from a small gang called the Shiv Sena to attack theaters or, at the very least, tear up film posters), in a wonderful shock-and-awe type attack this morning, my Ma cornered me and said, "There's a show at 1:00, then 2:30 at the other cinema. I asked everybody and no one's free. Tsk. Sigh. Oh ho." *puppy face* *sad eyes* etc. And that was that.
In spite of the blatant untruth of her statement (Really, Ma? You asked everybody? IN THE WORLD????) what choice had I? The fact of the matter is that if Ma said, "Aaj tak maine tumse kuchh nahin maanga hai, par aaj mangti hoon..," she would be right.
So off we went, just the two of us. To catch the 2:30 show if you must know. I cheered myself up on the way by playing songs from Ishqiya and Coke Studio. Also, I had only four asshole driver encounters on the road which was way below the Jammu average for a 7 km run. Hence, no road rage.
Film started at 2:40 p.m. We emerged from the hall at 5:20ish.
Let me cut to the chase. Here, in brief, is what stayed with me after:
1. MNIK is too long. A good half hour too long at least, and draggy and slow in places. I must have looked at my watch about 10 times in between. That is a sure sign the film isn't great shakes.
2. SRK didn't piss me off so much. That is not as much as I was expecting him to. (That annoying grin and perfunctory hamming per movie? Not there!) But still, weak research by the writers on Asperger's is quite apparent in him throughout.
3. Kajol pissed me off way more than I expected her to. *shriek!* *nasal* *artificial cute* *shriek!**Miss Snooty Know It All* *shriek!* You get the picture. Her character was lame and irritating to say the least. They didn't even try to make her likeable.
4. The story/plot gets weirder and more incredible as the movie drags on. The hurricane nonsense was epic. By the time we see a 20-something-year-old fake Obama at the end, I was ready to find leprechauns under my seat. Exactly. No relevance.
5. Songs: Meh. You must be kidding. Nothing to write anywhere about.
6. The Mussalman thing: Surprise, surprise! I liked how it was done. For once, a little realism in the depiction of Muslims on screen. [Erm. Except for the gold ring that SRK's character always wears... Maybe no one else noticed it, but to a Muslim (and he's quite devout in the fillum, spouting Hadith and whatnot) it's quite obvious.]
I liked the simple fact that the hijabi women were shown as they would be dressed in the States. Sonya Jehan is especially easy on the eyes. I liked that they show she wants to wear the hijab, not that she's oppressed or browbeaten into wearing it.
No nonsense misquoting or outright mockery of Islamic rituals. Just a quiet periodic reinstating of the fact that the protagonist is an Urdu-speaking Muslim brought up like most regular Urdu-speaking Muslims and you know, some habits stick with us. We all know Surahs, a little hadith, stories of the prohets, simple prayers and whatnot. We say salaam alaikum, khuda haafiz, inshaAllah all the time. It's part of our daily lives.
Don't know how it goes down with non-Muslims. You think it's too much? Let me know, please. This could be interesting.
7. Waste/Annoying characters: Quite a few, as in all KJo films.
8. The kid who played Sameer [boy, this name is getting famous] did good.
9. The background score: First let me make it very clear that I cry easily at the movies. And so, yes, I cried a lot, okay? And not because of exceptional acting or beautiful emoting or brilliant dialogues or anything. Oh, no. It was the damn soaring music swells and crescendos! I'm telling you. Give me tragic music in scenes involving mothers and kids and nine times out of ten I'll cry, whether it's actually worth it or not. Mother-child relationships shown in extreme close up is the key to waterworks. And this movie didn't even have great mother-child scenes. WTF!!! Oh, that reminds me: that SRK's ma lady- she did good too, for the few minutes she was on screen.
9. SRK-Kajol chemistry? FAIL. What chemistry? Damp as a damp squib. These two can look good together admittedly, but in MNIK? Ha ha. Nothing doing. Yes, so SRK has Asperger's and can't do emotions, but then his character is more emotive than Kajol's so what's that all about? Her role is so badly written. *rolls eyes* Seriously, much more could have been done with their relationship which, in the film, was about as exciting as lukewarm tea.
10. FTW moments: Barkha Dutt cameo (!!!), policeman doing the 'I'm watching you' fingers-to-eyes thingy (!!!!), open house terrorist recruitment in posh mosque (heheheh, this took the cake), the whole Georgia episode, the 'perfect murder' of Sameer - until emotions get the better of kid next door and he spills the beans etc etc vageira vageira vageira. So many of these gems in all KJo movies.

The movie, through all the nonsense and ridiculousness of the plot, manages to put its point across clearly I think: That police departments in the US are not big on sensitivity training. Ha ha. I jest.
No, MNIK wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be, which speaks volumes about the power of low expectations. For once I didn't feel like hitting out at a director because he made Muslims look like jerks or apologetic or defensive about everything. Also, for once I didn't feel like hitting SRK on the head. With a blunt object. Repeatedly.

And yes, in fact there ARE only two kind of peeps in the world: good and bad. It's that simple.

(I would like to mention that I do have this terrible headache ever since getting back from the cinema. And that doesn't happen when I like a fillum.)

Acting: Kajol- go back into retirement and stay there please; SRK, Jimmy Shergill, Sonya Jehan - good enough; kid Sameer, Ma - v. good; others - who cares
Story/Screenplay/Dialogues/Plot: Starts off okay and spirals down quickly into utter rubbish.
Background score: Exploitative and over the top. Damn you.
Camera work: Pretty as usual
Mussalman angle: Musslamans like me get it and are not offended by it. The question is, when SRK chucks stones at evil doctor in mosque and says, "Shaitan!", will anyone else get it? :) [Refer 'stoning the devil' ritual performed during the Hajj.]

PostScript: Movie experience made more unenjoyable by random cell phones going off around me, random people answering these cell phones and then proceeding to have conversations on them, a group of young jerks cackling every time a black person came on screen, making loud remarks during quiet scenes (one girl in particular annoying me to extremes) and general rude behaviour of the common man in cinema. Thooo!

PPS: Hilarious and brilliant MNIK reviews by The Vigil Idiot and Fake Bal Thakre. Go to!
Here's The Great Bong with his 'Making Of' version.
And here's an interesting article by Mariana Pinto, whose son actually has Asperger's.


N said...

I am yet to see this movie....then you shall hv the expert's opinions ;)

longblackveil said...

Yes, please. Although with only a mysterious initial for a name, one must say I will now have sleepless nights decoding 'N' and movie reviews will take a back seat.

Anonymous said...

After I got it all wrong with Qurban I vowed to myself that I will see a 'mussalman angle' movie only after reading a 'mussalman's' take on it.So thanks for providing it.
Ab problem yeh hai janaab ke aap ke review ke baad film dekhne ka mann hi nahin kar raha.
Since I work in the field of special education the thot of Shahrukh hamming about Asperger's has me nervous and the few clips I hv seen on Tv inspire no confidence.
Ab kya karoon? I think if it were not for the Shiv Sainiks(the clods) this film might not hv made the collections that it has made.I think all film wallahs shud pay the Shiv Sena to 'publicise' their movies.
Iget the stoning the devil bit but woh gold ring waali baat nahin samajh aayi.Thoda roshni daalo pls.

longblackveil said...

Dear Simply
No, no, no. You must watch. Because I want non-Mussalmaan p.o.v. on this. :)
You work in special education? I totally love and admire and respect you. *tipping hat* Well done and may the world have more of your ilk.
SRK hasn't hammed so much at all. It's just that I never once felt him in character. It was always SRK playing Riz Khan. You know how with 'Forrest Gump' you forget it's Tom Hanks? Yeah, well SRK can't pull that off. It's always SRK on screen 'acting' out his Asperger's character. Totally disconnected I thought. But that's MY opinion.
Watch it anyway. It's a lot better than many movies I have watched recently. Like "Jaani Dushman-Ek Anokhi Kahaani.' :)

N said...

Decoded - Neha :)

Anonymous said...

Thnx for the reply.I don't know why my comment does not go thru my wordpress ID.Anyway i shall remain 'anonymous' for purposes of posting comments here.
Yes,i have my masters in Sp.ed and work usually with Early Intervention(ages0-5)groups.
Yes,SRK characters are always SRK first and character later...Aamir is totally opposite in my opinion.
Ok shall go and watch the movie and provide my non -musaalamn P.O.V (that was a mouthful)I wish we see the day when we can just hv an Indian/human POV(altho saying Indian for Kashmiris may be politically wrong on my part)Let us use the term Human/National....whatever negates narrower identities.

Apoorv Gawde said...

Aha, I have a review too. :) to be honest its not really a review though, unlike yours, which is well written. Well done! I agree on almost all points.

and pssst I know the answer to 'N'

longblackveil said...

@Simply: Yes, of course, agree with you on simple human P.O.V. on films and everything else. It's only that this is the first timer EVER I have seen a substantial and fairly non-ridiculous depiction of Muslims in a mainstream Hindi film, so wanted to get thoughts on that from the aam junta.
As to the 'gold ring' thing (which I forgot to spill the beans on earlier): A very basic rule in Islam, which any Muslim ought to know along with 'drinks and drugs seriously prohibited', is that gold and silk are outright forbidden to men. Very extremely basic rule. So when I see the gold ring on religious Rizwan Khan, I'm going: *giggle*roll my eyes*cringe* KJo got it wrong again*Not that SRK would know any better*. :)
Congratulations, you just got a rare sneak peak into the 'Light hearted internal banter of Sabbah Haji's mind'.

Taibah said...

i stumbled onto this blog randomly and REALLY enjoyed this article. we share a hate for kajol :)

Saurabh Ail said...

Exactly an year later....i read this and recall the truth in every bit of your post. I luv Kajol...luved her in DDLJ, had visualized as my soul mate in Fanaa...but MNIK was got me back to reality.

Well written...I wish I had read this before I watched the horror.