Movie Notes: My Name is Khan

Posted on December 15, 2014

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My_Name_Is_Khan1. “My Name is Khan” is a 2010 Indian film directed by Karan Johar and written by Shibani Bathija. It stars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol.

2. It was the first Indian film that I actually liked despite the music video-like scenes which appear like clockwork throughout the film. I’m not sure if this can be classified as a Bollywood film despite the lack of apparent song-and-dance numbers. But I’m not complaining. I actually liked this sort of toned down version of a Bollywood film. Instead of song-and-dance numbers, “My Name is Khan” makes use of whole songs peppered with scenes that serve not just as eye candy but as an actual device that moves the story forward. I guess you can say that this is a great introduction to Bollywood since the “culture shock” is somewhat minimized.

3. What further minimizes the “culture shock” is that this film is set in the United States. Moreover, the language used is a combination of English and Indian. Although I looked for a movie version with English subtitles, whenever the characters spoke in English, I felt the warmth of a familiar language cloaking me with comfort.

4. “My Name is Khan” gives a powerful statement on discrimination, white privilege, and redemption.  There is a double whammy on Khan’s discrimination in the film. On the one hand, Khan experiences discrimination for having Asperger syndrome. On the other hand, he experiences discrimination for being an Indian Muslim.

Throughout the film, white people are shown dissing, making fun of, and being violent towards people of color. Black people and brown people, meanwhile, are shown caring for and sympathizing with each other. It makes the statement that white people’s perceived supremacy (arrogance, really) and lack of understanding on other cultures are the root cause of violence and mistreatment of people of color.

In terms of redemption, Khan is shown as a simpleminded but generous person. He has a big heart not just for people who are nice to him. He is nice to everyone. He treats everyone equally. His help does not distinguish between skin color. Rather, everyone is treated with dignity and love. This inspires everyone in the film.

5. On first viewing, I can’t see any problem with this film. I like it a lot. Except maybe, that we saw representations of whites, blacks, and browns here. But not yellows.

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Posted in: Movie Notes