MNIK opens in 119 theatres across US to mixed reviews

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: Dogged by controversy back home, Shah Rukh Khan starrer “My Name Is Khan” opened in 119 theatres across North America with an enthusiastic response from the South Asian community and a mixed reception from the press.

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“At its best ‘My Name Is Khan,’ set mainly in America, is an affecting fairy tale about the perils of goodness,” said The New York Times as the mainstream US press also took note of the “a firestorm surrounded the film’s release on Friday” in India.

“The message of ‘My Name Is Khan,’ an effective exercise in Bollywood high emotionalism, is less political than movie-ish: there are two kinds of people in the world, good and bad, a distinction more important than any other differences, like those between Hindus and Muslims,” the influential US daily said in a review published Saturday.

“‘Khan’is one of a handful of Hindi films (“New York,” “Kurbaan”) about Indians living in a paranoid, post-9/11 America, and there’s something fascinating about looking at this country through a Bollywood lens, even when the story is a kind of fairy tale,” it said.

“Bollywood and Politics Collide in a Red-Carpet Standoff,” said the Times in a separate news report from Mumbai about the film’s release amid controversy.

“The fight over the film and the politics of its star, who angered the Hindu right over his comments about Pakistanis playing on Indian cricket teams, is a glimpse of the bitterly parochial politics that still divide India’s most international city,” the daily said.

The film “examines the life of a Muslim man from India, living in San Francisco, who embarks on a remarkable journey across the United States, inspiring people while inviting debate and creating an accidental revolution,” said The Washington Post in a brief notice.

The New York Post carried a review from Reuters in India describing it as “a very average, ordinary film that goes haywire. Racial biases, the aftermath of 9/11 and the war on terror are dicey topics to handle in real life, let alone on celluloid, and director Karan Johar oversimplifies the issues.”

“Any film that underestimates its audiences and dumbs down its content is letting itself in for a failure. “My Name Is Khan” is a huge disappointment,” it said.

The Wall Street Journal reported about the film’s premier in “Mumbai Friday amid tight security and on a much-reduced number of screens after right-wing protesters earlier this week damaged cinemas slated to show the new movie by

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.”

Washington Post and the Los Angeles too carried agency reports from Mumbai about “Bollywood film sparks militant Hindu rage in India.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])