January 7, 2010

My Name is Khan – theatrical trailer, Sajda song!

The dust has settled on the MNIK theatrical trailer that was unveiled a couple of weeks ago and another promo "Sajda" has come out recently. So here I am to share my thoughts on both!

It is 3 minutes long and seems to reveal most of the story. Here is what people have pieced together. An autistic boy, the young Khan played by Tanay Chaddha, (Asperger's is part of the autism spectrum of disorders) is told by his mother that people are either good or bad based on the deeds they do. Cut to the grown up Khan telling us that he is different, but he is VERY SMART! The way he taps his forehead as he says it makes that scene for me. He meets Mandira, played by Kajol, and she is not much bothered by Khan's peculiarities. They become a family. Then a traumatic event changes everything. Could be that Mandira's store and her son's locker are targeted as they now carry the last name of Khan! There is a candlelight vigil (exciting, as I saw this one being filmed in Healdsburg), and some other traumatic even occurs. Is Mandira's child targeted and in danger? So Khan sets off on a journey with single minded purpose and is strip and cavity searched at the airport, seen involved in a flood, repairing cars along the way. All this implies an Odyssey of kinds to meet the President of the United States. Whether he is successful or not and what is the message he conveys, remains hidden. The journey would seem to take up most of the second part of the film.

Is the story compelling? It could be depending on how well it is able to engage our emotions. How about the glimpses into the performances? Kajol lights up the screen in almost every frame, barring one screaming moment (which could well be appropriate in context) she comes out aces. Shahrukh has the body language and emotional detachment of an Asperger's patient down near perfectly. His idiosyncratic behavior will have to gel with the audience and I think it will depend on how well it is set up and explained right from childhood. So Tanay may well end up with a highly significant role in the film. The music Noor-e-Khuda seems most apt for the trailer.

So while this preview reveals more than most are comfortable with, it gives a far representation of the film as a non-fluffy piece that may have something to say. Will it be relevant? That depends entirely on one's POV. With the latest attempted terror plane attack, the US government is thinking of profiling and detailed searches of citizens of some countries. The conservative point of view is in full sympathy with this and the body-scanner approach. The liberal side will always be more in favor of civil rights and searches that do not profile, so the film will evoke debate from both sides. It remains to be seen how to the point the message is and how well it is delivered.

The nest promo is Sajda:

This is clearly the "romantic" track as it details the interactions between Rizwaan Khan and Mandira. It seems based on events around the two getting married and again has high emotional quotient, great chemistry between leads, a focus on the social interaction barrier that Khan has, and diminishing of some of it with the love for Mandira. "Teri kali ankhiyon se jind meri jaage" and the focus on Kajol's dramatic eyes makes the song rock! The repetitive movements from Shahrukh keep his character intact in its disability and show that some research and effort has gone into creating this persona.

This promo tells me that the first half of Khan will be just what people are expecting from a SRK-Kajol film directed by Karan. The second half is where it will go into unknown territory and the highs and lows of this half will determine the ultimate fate of MNIK! Keeping my fingers crossed.


MyNaMeIsUMAR said...

Very good and balanced review..........Not something like we fanatics do
actually i dnt know much about autisom..all i know now is bcz of i needed balnced input on shahrukh acting by someone like u
Thank u ji
shared it on other sites too..

Pardesi said...

Thanks Umar

I needed to see the trailer a few times and what comes across is the consistency in the mannerisms and behavior. Asperger's patients have a hard time with physical contact, emotional bonding, loud noises - so the streetcar scene with the ear plugs was PERFECT. And the fact that Kajol was pulling towards her, while SRK was almost pushing away or reluctantly coming close was very true to the syndrome.

Caulfield said...

I will differ from Pardesi here - I hope Tanay if at all he gets a bigger role in the film, shouldn't be used too much just for that disease SRK has. The film should try not to focus on that point at all. It should focus more on the love story and let that disease get noticed by itself through the performance. I think the disease shouldn't be highlighted much. It's a film about love and should focus more on that. And I do think the second part will be about the journey. For me that journey would be the soul of the film. It will be interesting to see how much of problems Rizwan goes through just for his LOVE.

Caulfield said...

Though I love the acting of SRK in the promo, I agree with Neo with this point that he didn't sound mechanical at all when he said the lines to the police - "I have something to say to the President of the United States...My Name is Khan and I am not a terrorist". OFC nothing can be said until the entire scene is seen. I just hope K Jo doesn't make these small mistakes.

Amazing that first I questioned why is he speaking mechanically, but after I learnt that autistic people speak mechanically, I ask why did he speak that line with emotions. Hahahahaha.

Apart from that I liked whatever I saw in the promo.

Pardesi said...

It depends on how many times he is asked to repeat the information. With repetition even the autists can have inflection in their speech. As for the child, explaining the disease early will help the audience understand why the performer is behaving the way he is.

A departure from this is seen in ONLY ONE HW film. It is a film I really like - stragely enough it has Adam Sandler playing an Asperger's patient and it is called Punch Drunk Love. You never find out what it is the man has, but then you have to take all his characteristics and search for the disease. These include repetitive behavior, speech patterns, favoring certain colors, inability to emotionally connect, obsessing about some things. Then your research tells you it is Asperger's! The forums have discussed this film and the approach to death, and I think it is brilliant to let the audience decide. BUT Indian audiences may just go HUH? So I think some spoon-feeding will be needed.

Caulfield said...

"It depends on how many times he is asked to repeat the information. With repetition even the autists can have inflection in their speech."

I said, it can be only decided once we see the entire film and the context. But in the trailer, it is shown only once, so it appears like a flaw.

"As for the child, explaining the disease early will help the audience understand why the performer is behaving the way he is."

Again I said, I don't have any problems with the director saying in the start, but he should try to finish it as soon as he can and focus on the story instead. Focus should be on the context of the story and not the disease until and unless the disease has something very important to do with the story.

Pardesi said...

Now Salman praises the theme and the performance - based on a promo?

Pardesi said...

Thanks to Umar in KhitPit for this link. Here is a "foreign" eview of the MNIK trailer:

My Name Is Khan Trailer
Everyone ought to love a feel-good movie if it’s done right.
Sometimes you get bad feel-good like Patch Adams (sorry to rain on someone’s parade with that declaration) and sometimes you can get good feel-good like Forrest Gump (sorry to rain on someone else with that one). This movie looks like it is not only coming from someplace unfamiliar to me, I am not up to speed with the oeuvre of director Karan Johar, but the movie brims with the kind of easy joy one can get from a movie that looks to be life affirming. True, it helps that actress Kajol is just a delight to the eye and that any movie where you have a guy overcoming a malady like Shahrukh Khan has (think Rain Man) is a recipe for an emotional tearjerker.
More than that, you see, the first minute plays out with a jaunty soundtrack that is completely deceiving. By all intents and purposes this looks like a Bollywood production that takes place on the streets of San Francisco. Done, end of story. However, what follows absolutely belies everything that has come before it in that we quickly understand that this is not going to be a happy film filled with superficial joy, dancing, and the promise of no kissing.
9/11 happens and these characters find themselves in the middle of a contentious maelstrom of ignorance, hate, and violence. It certainly made me wonder exactly what’s happening here and made this feel more than just a movie to display some brightly colored saris with hot dance moves.
Our man Khan has autism and after the events of 9/11 he wants to go to Washington to talk to the president. Seems like an easy thing to do but this trailer makes you wince with the way some people with any excess of melanin their bodies were treated and Khan is at the receiving end of that. What an interesting thing, to take a film and showcase what it was like to be a foreigner from someone else’s perspective.
What we see here, as the trailer winds its way to the close, is that we’re given scads of images that are somehow related to this guy’s plight to get an audience with the president of the United States. Encountering a little bit of hatred, a little bit of ignorance, a full-on shotgun attack, and, in what puts this movie in the right context, shows him praying in the desert as the outro has him saying, “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.”

I’m fascinated with the promise of where we are going with this movie, not only with the story, but what it could say from a cultural perspective different than our own.

Read more: This Week In Trailers: My Name Is Khan, Jerry Cotton, Bushido 16, 9:06, Celine: Through The Eyes Of The World and More | /Film

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