Monday, February 15, 2010

In defence of the Shiv Sena

You have to give it to the Shiv Sena. All along, when they created all this hoo-haa over My Name is Khan’s release, we thought they were fuming over SRK’s remarks about Pakistani players and IPL.

Not true.

I'm sure there is something called as ‘Won’t-let-you-watch-it-since-its-a-bad-film’ clause in our constitution.

The Shiv Sainiks already knew it’s a terrible film - thanks to the large network of pirated DVD hawkers they help flourish. It is perhaps Karan Johar’s worst film and the Shiv Sena votebank would be cheated of precious ticket money, bringing more gloom over what is not a very rosy picture of household expenses these days.

So the accusation on SRK and Karan Johar was of cheating (Tu gaddaar aahe!) and not what we thought (Tu gaddaar aahe!).

I’m also told Thackeray wanted to wrestle his way into the lead role of the film. He had set up his goons to convince Karan Johar to change an important dialogue of the film.

From ‘My Name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist’, he wanted it changed to ‘My Name is Thackeray and I am a terrorist. (Based on a true story)'. This was when the film was in its scripting stages. But when he saw the first cut of the film, he suddenly turned messiah for all cinegoers. He couldn’t tell Karan Johar straight on his face that his film sucked. Hence, all this gaali-galoch.

I’ve just come back from a late night show of MNIK at the Regal cinema. I generally do not give advice to people on what to watch, what to skip.

But this time, I will. Do not watch this film.

Yes, it has its high points- SRK is very good, as is his chemistry with Kajol (Chemistry text books in school should have their photos on the cover, rather than atoms and molecules), Ravi K Chandran’s photography is a treat, as is Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music (Sajda sent me on cloud nine).

But when the Exit signs in the auditorium start glowing more brightly than the events unfolding on screen, you know that the director has completely lost it. It’s not Karan Johar alone to blame – his intent is sincere and heartwarming, as is his direction in most parts - it’s Shibani Bhatija’s screenplay which is a complete letdown.

(Spoiler alert!)

The plot sounds sweet when you hear it for the first time – a young Muslim man with Asperger’s syndrome travels across the United States to meet the President and tell him that he is not a terrorist – but when you walk out of the theatre, you feel cheated. Meet the President! For what? You told him you’re not terrorist. He already knows it, which is why you’ve been allowed at such close proximity to him. Has it changed the fate of millions of Muslims in the States? I’m not sure.

Why does Kajol do a sudden about-turn accusing him that his surname was responsible for her son's death? And the scene where her son dies, is a clear example of high-school bullies going overboard, rather than a racist attack.

The film's biggest weakness is that it does not generate sympathy for its characters. When Mandira (Kajol) dumps Rizwan (SRK), you do not feel sorry for him. You do not feel ecstatic when help pours in for the Georgia flood victims.

And when Rizwan is stabbed out of the blue and there's a melodramatic hospital sequence, you find yourself groaning. Ditto in the scene where Kajol breaks down with her dead son in her arms. Because you know it, the director has overdone it.

There is buzz about the box-office collections of MNIK overtaking that of 3 Idiots.
I think its complete hogwash. Spin doctors are behind this new trend of tom-tomming Rs 100 crores, 200 crores within weeks of a film’s release.

3 Idiots, like most blockbusters, made its money by repeat viewing. MNIK certainly does not fall in that category. It would be a telling statement of the viewing tastes of the audiences of today, if they supported mediocrity like this.

Highpoint of the film: When Mandira asks Rizwan to marry her. My cheeks started aching, I was blushing so much.

Lowpoint of the film: SRK being stabbed. I wanted to head to the Exit door.

ROFL moment of the film: The scene where Khan walks into the kitchen and finds Mandira there chopping vegetables. Says, "Mandira, can we have sex, please?"

Verdict: **