My Name Is Khan (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/02/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 161 mins

Enjoyable Bollywood melodrama with a strong central message, engaging characters and terrific performances from Shahrukh Khan and Kajol.

What's it all about?
Directed by Karan Johar, My Name Is Khan stars Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan as Rizwan Khan, an Indian Muslin with Asperger syndrome who embarks on a personal quest to deliver a message to the President of the United States. Along the way, he is arrested on suspicion of terrorism and helps out a hurricane-ravaged town in Georgia after previously befriending two of the locals (Jennifer Echols as Mama Jenny and Adrian Kali Turner as Funny Hair Joel) on his travels.

Meanwhile, flashbacks reveal Khan's childhood in India, his fractious relationship with his brother, and his courtship and marriage to hairdresser and single mother Mandira (Kajol) after moving to San Francisco. However, their lives are set to change forever after 9/11.

The Good
Shahrukh Khan is terrific as Khan (“pronounced Hghh-an, from the epiglottis”), delivering a performance that could easily have been deeply irritating but manages to be both charming and funny (particularly his inappropriate giggling). There's also superb support from Kajol, who's adorably feisty in the first half of the film (their courtship is extremely well written and the two actors have genuine chemistry together) and utterly heartbreaking in the second.

The script (which has caused controversy in some quarters) is excellent and its central message of religious tolerance, community and understanding is extremely well handled, even if they do go a bit overboard with the hilariously Jesus-like Obama (Christopher B. Duncan) sequence. The film is also beautifully shot and makes strong use of its U.S. locations, even incorporating them into the plot – Mandira challenges Khan to show her something she's never seen in San Francisco as part of their courtship.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it's way too long and drags considerably in the first half before the plot really gets going. It's also fair to say that the characters of Mama Jenny and Funny Hair Joel veer too closely into embarrassing stereotypes; the gospel church scene is one of the only moments that doesn't quite work.

Worth seeing?
My Name Is Khan is an impressively directed, sharply written and emotionally engaging Bollywood drama with an important central message and a terrific performance from Shahrukh Khan. Recommended.

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My Name Is Khan (12A)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 19:50

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