Review: My Name is Khan

Movie Poster
In light of all my posts last week about prejudice against Muslims, Jared suggested that we finish watching My Name is Khan.  (We did actually go see the movie when it came out in a theatre in Emeryville... we thoroughly enjoyed the first half, recognized that the film was going to take a very serious turn after the intermission, and decided we were rather tired and would watch the second half later.)   Often referred to as MNIK, the movie has grossed $19.2 million overseas, securing its place as the highest grossing Bollywood film outside of India.  

The first half of the movie has restored my faith in Bollywood portrayals of San Francisco (after my frustration with Love Aaj Kal).  Who can resist Shahrukh Khan and Kajol traipsing up and down the streets of San Francisco, especially as Kajol has the quintessential San Franciscan occupation: hairdresser?  The second half is, yes, a bit serious as Shahrukh Khan's character, Rizwan Khan, travels back and forth across the southern United States, trying to meet the President to tell him he is not a terrorist, and his son Sam, is also not a terrorist.  It has some typical Bollywood flourishes- a soccer ball to the chest can kill someone (more of a symbolic than actual truth), Wilhemina, George appears to be something taken out of Tolkien's Middle Earth conflated with Hurricane Katrina, and it's unlikely that Obama's security would ever allow something like the last scene of the movie.  Although highly dramatized, it does hit some important points about prejudice in America.  I wish Kajol's character, Mandira, was a bit more dynamic during the second half of the movie (she sends Rizwan away, then watches his plight on television without reacting or doing much to intervene).  But Shahrukh makes the character of Rizwan, who has Asperger's Syndrome, ultimately approachable, although I must say it's difficult to get "My name is Khan.  Khan.  From the epiglottis" out of your head once you've finished the movie.