I finally had the unfortunate opportunity of watching My Name is Khan (MNIK) on DVD. I’ve always believed that a Rajesh Khanna film called “Red Rose” is the worst Hindi film ever made, that is, until I saw My Name Is Khan – the honor now belongs to MNIK. I can’t believe the critics gave this sorry piece of celluloid a 4.5 or 5 star reviews. The film is not even worthy of receiving negative stars, that’s how dreadful it is. If Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and MNIK are the kind of films we can expect from Karan Johar, he should stop making films. If you haven’t seen MNIK, I suggest you stop reading here. If you have seen the film, please continue.
When will Bollywood get over its 9/11 hangover? What makes Bollywood filmmakers think they know what happened during 9/11 in North America? Apparently, as My Name Is Khan reveals, they know absolutely nothing!
The greatest problem with “My Name Is Khan” is the time line and I don't understand why no one has picked up on it. We’re shown that Rizwan Khan meets Mandira Rathod pre 9/11 in San Francisco of all places. She has a kid (Sameer Rathod a.k.a. Sam) who’s about 13 years old. Rizwan and Mandira get married and shortly after witness planes crashing into the two towers as its shown live on TV. The 9/11 disaster occured in 2001, yet the time line keeps jumping between 2001 and 2007-2008 periods; this is the biggest flaw of this film.
In June 2008, Rizwan Khan says it’s been 179 days since Sam’s death which means Sam died in 2007. Apparently, Sam is still 13 years old in 2007 - six years after Rizwan met the 13 year old - unless he has taken some potion for eternal youth, he should be 19. Sam is killed on November 27, 2007 because children in school are picking on him for being Muslim (even though he’s a Hindu). Mandira tells Rizwan if she didn't marry him Sam would be alive. She suggests Rizwan ask the president why this happened and maybe he can stop all this Muslim hate. So step-father Rizwan Khan’s journey to meet the president begins.
What boggles the mind is if 9/11 happened in 2001 why in the world is Rizwan Khan going to see the president in 2007. It’s not very believable that in a place like California, thousands of miles from New York (where 9/11 actually occurred) children would beat up a kid for being Muslim and riots would occur 6 years after the fact. There’s no reason for the time shifts between 2001 and 2007-2008, the film would have worked if Karan Johar stayed in 2001. The only explanation I can think of for the time shift is the Hurricane sequence when we find Rizwan in Wilhemina, Georgia (a city that doesn’t exist in reality). The Wilhemina, Georgia sequences have nothing to do with the story of the film and only add unwanted time to an already long film. In fact, Georgia is not known for hurricanes and there were no hurricanes in the state in 2007 or 2008, so even those details are wrong! Had Karan Johar done an ounce of research he’d have known that.
It’s sad to see that Karan Johar has no idea what really happened during and post 9/11 in North America or any clue about the George W. Bush presidency or any knowledge of where hurricanes occur and yet he’s made a film about all this.
When Rizwan is having an attack, upon seeing yellow (he has a fear for the color) and stops in the middle of the street with a cable car approaching, the people get out of the cable car and are abusive towards him. In India this is very likely but, this would never happen in North America, here people are informed about such things, especially in a big city like Frisco, people would actually try to help him.
In another scene in 2007, we’re shown people rioting and beating up Muslims or threatening them. Sorry Karan Johar, North America is not like India where anyone can start race riots and get away with it, law and order is still paramount here. And those riots never really happened in Frisco so why make them up?
Not once in the film is Rizwan treated badly for being a Muslim. Mama Jenny whose son is killed in Afghanistan, by Muslims, loves him. Even people at immigration cleared him without any problems when he arrives at the airport. The only time he gets arrested is when he starts shouting “My Name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist” at a ralley. That’s just another factor showing how lame this film is. The scenes with the reporters look like they’re forcefully added to the film.
Rizwan suffers from Asperger's Syndrome (AS), but nothing is said about what this disease really is or how it affects different people, what causes it or what can be done to help people who have this - we're only given a generic description. When you have a platform such as Karan Johar did, it’s very sad that he doesn’t use it to inform and educate people; this was also the case with R. Balki’s “Paa”.
If Indian filmmakers can’t talk about or explain a disease they shouldn’t make a story around it, it’s very insulting to people who suffer from these diseases. They’re not creating any awareness. After people watched My Name is Khan no one cared about what AS is. Karan Johar should watch films like Philadelphia (1993) to learn how to construct a touching story. Philadelphia made people aware and changed the perspective of many people. I highly doubt My Name is Khan will do any such thing.
There isn't even a mention of how many people suffer from AS for goodness sake. It took me 2 minutes to find out that an estimated 60 million people suffer from Autism around the world and AS affects 20 million people worldwide. Boys are three to four times more likely than girls to have AS. If Karan Johar can waste 2 minutes on showing the names of sponsors and friends, the least he can do is devote 10 seconds to an insert with statistics about AS.
There are lots of reasons Rizwan could have suffered from the disease, we’re told that he has the disease in childhood, before his father died, so it can’t be because of his father’s death. Nothing else happens in his life, that we’re told about to cause it. What’s the reason? Was he born with it? Did he develop it later? Can he be cured? No explanation is given. We’re also told that Rizwan is afraid of the color yellow but again the why, how, where and when are missing.
Another thing I didn’t understand is why Rizwan is travelling the country running after President George W. Bush; why not stay in Washington. You'll never guess where he meets the president at the end... Washington - SURPRISE! And when he does meet the president it’s not even the one he was chasing all those months, elections have happened and it’s the president elect that he meets (some black dude who doesn’t look anything like Mr. Obama).
I have said this many times: Indian filmmakers need to start doing research, it’s sad that in the world of today with Wikipedia and thousand of other ways to do research online, Indian filmmakers still come up with such bullshit and buy the reviews to con people into watching their films.
Unless they’re making these films for uneducated fools who have never seen a single film in their lives, this bullshit needs to end. The audience is used to well researched Hollywood films in North America, if Bollywood can't do the same they should stop releasing their films in North America, the audience here won’t buy your crap. Kajol is wasted in this film and Shahrukh hams yet again, trying to imitate Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man and Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump doesn’t make you a great actor Mr. Khan. Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman are remembered for their portrayals of Forrest Gump and Rain Man, but such will not be the case with this forgettable Shahrukh Khan performance. SRK showed much promise when he first arrived in Bollywood – Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra have ruined his talent.
Hard to fathom why Fox Searchlights released MNIK? It’s depressing to see India is so backwards in terms of story telling, at least get the bloody time line right!! Throughout the film Rizwan keeps saying “I can repair anything” and even has a sign in the later reels, how one wishes he could repair the screenplay of this film.
I don’t want this post to get too long, but I would like point out that I haven’t even touched on half of the other problems with this film like how did all those people (friends and family of Rizwan) get to Wilhemina – a town of just over 200 people – in the middle of a hurricane? I’m sure there’s no airport in Wilhemina and Georgia is on the opposite side of the United States, over 2000 miles away, from Frisco and Rizwan's friends and family.
All the money spent on making and promotion of My Name Is Khan could’ve been better spent making 10 sensible films like “A Wednesday”.
I would like to end by saying My Name Is Khan is VERY DISAPPOINTING!!!!
P.S.: I came across this comic about MNIK and I think it’s 1000 times better than the actual movie. I hope you will enjoy it and get the bad taste of MNIK out of your system. Please click on this link for the comic: