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DVD Review: My Name is Khan

August 10, 2010

My Name is Khan – A 20th Century Fox Release

http://www.foxsearchlight.com/mynameiskhan/

DVD Release Date: August 10th, 2010

Rated PG language may offend, not recommended for young children

Running time: 161 minutes

Karan Johar (dir.)

Shibani Bathija (story and screenplay)

Shibani Bathija (dialogue)

Niranjan Iyengar (dialogue)

Shankar Mahadevan (music)

Loy Mendonsa (music)

Ehsaan Noorani (music)

Shahrukh Khan as Rizwan Khan

Kajol as Mandira

Shane Harper as Tim

Jennifer Echols as Mama Jenny

Our reviews below:

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My Name is Khan DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Told mainly through Forrest Gump-style flashbacks, My Name is Khan is the story of a Muslim man, Rizvan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), with Asperger’s syndrome who moves from India to the USA to live near his brother.  When he falls in love with a Hindu woman, Mandira (Kajol) – and after the events of 9/11 –  their lives become complicated by racial and religious differences.  When tragedy strikes, he is sent on a quest to meet the President with the message “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.”

In the second half, My Name is Khan becomes about a journey across the country, and though it could be accused of melodrama, it largely works.  In one of the most touching sequences, Khan meets a poor African-American family in Georgia, and leads in a church service for soldiers lost in war.

Although it does take its time and runs a little long at 161-minutes, the rewards of My Name is Khan far outweigh any flaws.  Both as a romantic near-comedy, and as a civil rights drama, this is an endlessly inspiring and moving film, that serves as a redefinition of Bollywood for Western audiences.  Featuring strong performances and a good sweeping dramatic story, this is one worth seeing.

The DVD includes just over 20-minutes of extras, including several featurettes, and 2 promotional music videos.

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My Name is Khan DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/4 (Out of 4)

My Name is Khan is about a Muslim man named Rizvan Khan who moves from India to the USA to be near his brother.  There, he falls in love with a Hindu woman named Mandira, who has a young son.  Despite their religious (and other) differences, they accept each other, but after 9/11, society seems to be less likely to accept them because of Rizvan’s Muslim last name.  This leads to Khan going on a quest across the USA to speak with the President.  Although told with a slightly fractured narrative, I was able to follow along well enough.

I was surprised by this film – I thought it would be more of a musical, when rather, it is a drama.  It is long (2 hours and 41 minutes), but taking only a short 5-10 minute break, I didn’t mind watching it in one sitting.  Although the pace is slow, it is never boring, with the story moving forward with each scene.

Another thing I personally found interesting about this film, is that the main character has a form of autism.  In the film they call it Aspergers, although I found the character slightly more on the autism end of the spectrum.  Still, wherever on the spectrum, the performance by Shah Rukh Khan was fine.  It was also nice to see a character with autism to be shown as very emotional and loving – thus going against the myth that people on the spectrum lack empathy.

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My Name is Khan DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Love can overcome anything.  This is the message of My Name is Khan, a film about one man’s quest to break down the cultural and racial prejudices that plague our modern era.  Rizvan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) is a Muslim man from India.  He also happens to be an Aspie (person with Asperger’s syndrome), which makes him overly sensitive to certain colours and sudden sounds.  But unlike the others around him, Rizvan does not pay attention to religious or or racial difference between people.  As a child, Rizvan’s mother had taught him that there are only good and bad people, regardless of race, religion, culture, or neurotype.

After the death of his mother, Rizvan follows in his brother’s footsteps, and moves to the USA to create a new life for himself.  In the USA, Rizvan falls in love with Mandira (Kajol), a single mother who happens to be Hindu.  Despite some initial disapproval of their interracial relationship from Rizvan’s borther, the two marry and lead a happy family life.

All this is about to change when the events of 9/11 take place.  Nobody will go to Mandira’s salon anymore, and her teenage son is picked on at school.  This is only because of the Khan family’s name and skin colour.  The widespread racist fears that now plague the country leads to a tragedy involving the Khan family.  To make up for what happened, Rizvan must fulfill  a promise to Mandira that he will personally tell the president of the United States that he and his family are not terrorists.  Rizvan’s quest leads him to become an unintentional hero to millions of people.

My Name is Khan is an inspiring film.  Despite its long running time, I was fully engaged to every second of this movie.  While Shah Rukh Khan’s depictions of an Aspie is somewhat stereotyped and exaggerated (most Aspie’s do at least try to make eye contact), I found Rizvan’s character to be an extremely empathetic and caring individual.  I was pleased to see a film that completely breaks down the prejudiced myth that Aspies and Autists lack empathy and love.  Overall, I thought the acting in My Name is Khan was sincere and believable.

The movie plot, while obviously influenced by award-winning classics such as Forrest Gump and Rain Man, is still totally original.  I found the storyline really appealed to me.  Throughout the film, Rizvan keeps singing “We Shall Overcome.”  My Name is Khan is a film with a wonderful message about love, and overlooking differences that will be accessible worldwide.

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My Name is Khan DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

My Name is Khan is a surprisingly engaging, warmly charming and often touching movie.  Starring well-known Indian actors Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol I fully expected this to be a typical Bollywood romance movie.

Instead My Name is Khan manages to tackle the subjects of Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism) , interfaith relationships, prejudice and tensions after 9/11 in a sensitive matter without too much melodrama.  While there maybe a little too much story thrown in for the North American market with a running time of close to 3 hours it still is a very watchable movie if you don’t mind reading subtitles for that long.

The story centres around Rizvan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), a man with Aspergers Syndrome who moves to the U.S.A. after the death of his mother in India.  While working for his brother’s beauty products business Khan meets a pretty Indian single mother, Mandira (Kajol).  An awkward friendship forms between the pair and eventually turns to love and marriage.  The relationship between the two is the charming highlight of the movie.  The Asperger’s social awkwardness that Khan portrays is believable and sweet and fairly accurate of some individuals on the autism spectrum.

The movie takes a dramatic turn when the events of 9/11 lead to a heartbreaking tragedy in the newly formed Khan family.  The religious differences between Mandira, a Hindu, and Khan, a Muslim, are finally a factor.  Khan reluctantly leaves Mandira setting out on a road trip to meet the president so he can say ‘My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.’

Throughout the movie there are light comedic touches, sweet romantic moments and serious drama.  Mostly what this movie has is a heart brought to life by the excellent acting of the two leads.  Fans of these mega star Bollywood actors and those interested in stories where Asperger’s plays a main role will want to check out My Name is Khan on DVD.

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My Name is Khan DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

My Name is Khan begins at the San Francisco Airport where Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) is pulled off his Washington flight.  Noticeably agitated in noisy crowds (wearing earplugs), avoiding eye contact and muttering in Hindi with occasional bursts of English, Khan has aroused suspicion.  Missing his plane, he sets off by bus on a mission to meet the president and deliver the message: “My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist.” En route his journal entries, like Forrest Gump’s bus stop narration, provide the back story.  As a child in India Rizwan had played in his father’s junkyard and learned how to fix anything.  When he was bullied at school his mother found a retired academic to tutor him.  As violence was flaring up between Hindus and Moslems, Khan’s mother taught him that there are only two kinds of people–good and bad.  His mother’s sensitivity to his needs was resented by his younger brother who moved to the U.S. to go into the cosmetics business.  When their mother died, Rizwan went to San Francisco to work for his brother as a sales rep. As a trained psychologist his brother’s wife recognized his Asperger condition, typically career limiting in sales, but his beauty salon clients were charmed by his guileless honesty and knowledge of the product line.  Mutual attraction with one of them, Mandira (Kajol) grew into love and marriage along with her school age son Sameer (Sam) from a brief arranged and abusive marriage.  It was a tragic event triggered by backlash of the 9/11 attack that set Khan on his mission.  He touches a number of people on his way, particularly the inhabitants of a poor Georgia town. As he finally gets close to the president, Khan is once again jailed on suspicion, but with the aid of journalists, he may still get out in time to deliver the message.

The DVD provides some brief interviews that were very useful for people like me unfamiliar with the Indian film industry.  Over the last 15 years Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol have been romantic leads in several of the most successful Bollywood musicals from the same director of the current film, Karan Johar.  Fans could be disappointed by such a dramatic film scored in a more classical Sufic style without conventional musical or dance numbers. However, the cast and crew have risen to the challenges brilliantly.  My Name is Khan is an inspiring and often very moving film.  The most touching scene for me is a memorial service in a tiny Georgia African-American church where Khan addresses the congregation.  Though speaking mostly in Hindi (for which we have subtitles), he gets out just enough English to convey his message, evoking a most appropriate response.

A minor cavil: Khan’s diagnosis may be arguably more classically Autistic than Asperger–more Rain Man than Adam.  His limited verbal fluency, even in his native language where he sometimes goes into echolalia (repetition of what he has just heard) is typically more associated with classical Autism.  Moreover, his avoidance of eye contact, reminding me of two approaching strong like magnetic poles, is less subtle than most Aspies can manage.

The running time of about 2 1/2 hours may seem long by American standards, but I found the leisurely pace appropriate.  The only other criticism I have is that the English subtitles were sometimes hard to read–too small and not on-screen long enough.  Otherwise, My Name is Khan is a brilliant and inspiring film about intolerance and how it can be overcome on many levels within a charming romantic story.

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Consensus: My Name is Khan is both a charming romance and an inspiring film about overcoming the cultural divide of racial and neurological differences. Despite running a little long at 161 minutes, this is one worth seeing. ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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