I went in, desperately wanting to like My Name Is Khan. I came out with a sense of relief. That the film was over, and that I could go home and drown my brain in the mental equivalent of a mouthwash.
The first half of this film was sweet, moving. It’s got these random breezy moments that make you sit back a bit and take it all in. Usually when SRK is in any film, they give him a name that is easily forgotten or is so vague that you constantly think of the character as SRK’s role. But here – the protagonist Rizvan Khan is a bit bigger than SRK. Which is welcome. No arms-stretched-in-Chipko-Andolan poses in song sequences.
Kajol is alright, just that she comes across as so LOUD when she’s trying to play the ‘sweet woman’. It’s only when her role has shades of anger and despair that you actually enjoy her on screen. The supporting cast is really great in parts, and you don’t really miss SRK on the scene when they are around.
All this said, the second half is tedious. Not because it is political. This is a story that could have been told differently, without making supermen of mortals, and without caricaturing every white, black and brown person on the planet. (Cue: Black overweight women love to hug, insist on feeding you and are full of maternal instincts. White man very bad and seemingly incapable of seeing through propaganda.)
There are some particularly cringeworthy moments. (I shall never be able to listen to Saare Jahan Se Accha again without feeling like I should be banging my head on a hard surface.) I found myself shrinking in my seat as I cringed further at some other points. Like SRK wading into a hurricane hit area.
But more than cringeworthy, the worst crime a film can commit is that of being boring. I was bored to death in the last one hour. I knew exactly where the story was going, even though I hadn’t read any spoilers. But even predictable stories can be fascinating. And this one wasn’t. Every scene in the last hour becomes one cheesy bit after another.
Here was a story, which could have been a compelling one. Essentially you take the element of pragmatism out of a person, and make him respond to his urges in the most literal sense. This could have been a journey across the US, a road trip almost (this is beginning to sound like Borat now) – which it does try to be in some parts and revealing parts of the US usually left unexplored in Bollywood. Instead, you try and make a hero out of SRK, because the idea that you deviate from the usual formula is a bit much.
Here’s the complicated bit. A lot of us want to support the film because of the giant mess around it. Though watching NDTV’s coverage, I feel like nothing else is happening in the country, except the release of the film. I don’t like the film, but even average/ bad/ somewhat alright films have the right to be shown, and get their audience.