My Name is Khan Karan Johar

My Name is Khan Karan Johar
Because irony has yet to infiltrate the Indian film industry, and because modern Hindi cinema is so heavily influenced by Hollywood, Bollywood films often look like exaggerated versions of their American counterparts. The popular Dhoom 2, for example, is like a Mission: Impossible entry with any trace of reality airbrushed away and the action scenes, macho swagger and beautiful flesh amped up to ludicrous proportions. In that spirit, you could have some fun approaching My Name is Khan as a grotesquely overcooked, Oscar-baiting prestige picture. Shah Rukh Kahn (giving a performance for which the term "earnest" was invented) plays Rizwan Khan, an aggressively pure and innocent Muslim man with Asperger's syndrome who falls in love with Mandira (Kajol), a Hindu woman in San Francisco. Their union becomes fraught when anti-Muslim sentiment increases after 9/11, to the point where Mandira's son is beaten to death by school bullies. When Mandira rejects Rizwan, he embarks on a seven-year journey to tell President Bush, "My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist," a statement whose real significance he doesn't fully grasp. Yes, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama make appearances, played by actors who one could charitably say are not spitting images. Every scene of My Name is Khan has the heavy self-importance of an Oscar clip moment, and the thuddingly obvious message of racial tolerance is stretched pretty thin over the film's 165-minute length. It's also somewhat negated by an insane, out-of-nowhere interlude where Khan helps save a Southern black village (complete with stereotypical Uncle Reemuses and Aunt Jemimas) from a hurricane. Mental disability, showy star performance, ham-fisted and hypocritical message of tolerance, vaguely progressive but unchallenging politics… my god, it's like all the worst moments of The Blind Side, Crash, Forest Gump and Invictus crammed into one unholy package! Critics have been remarkably kind to My Name is Khan, although reviews calling this a "riotously overstuffed and enormously enjoyable drama" (Jay Weissberg, Variety) sound about as patronizing as Shah Rukh Khan's performance. Make no mistake: this is a really bad movie. But it's just so sweet, earnest, naïve, unselfconscious and pathetically well-meaning that it's my kind of bad movie. Self-congratulatory DVD extras include short documentaries with names like "Changing the Face of Bollywood" and music videos. (Fox)