MY NAME IS KHAN (Karan Johar). 145 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (February 12). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: N
My Name Is Khan features Bollywood megastar Shahrukh Khan playing a post-9/11 Forrest Gump in a movie that finds shared tensions and misunderstandings between the immigrant experience and autism.
Rizwan Khan (Khan) suffers from Asperger syndrome but lives happily and functionally in San Francisco until 9/11 brings his world crashing down. Most of Rizwan's story is told in flashbacks of his trek across America by bus, because air travel is slightly complicated for a Muslim. He's chasing the president, trying to deliver the following personal message: "My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist."
Soon he's foiling a terrorist plot, rescuing hurricane victims and becoming an inspirational role model for Barack Obama. There is humour in all of this, but most of it is unintentional and awk ward, making a mockery of trou bling issues.
Don't think that Bollywood is growing up by tackling a serious subject, dissecting America with an outsider's perspective. The film decries prejudice, yet gives in to its own reverse stereotyping. Almost everyone in America is either a white devil, an Aunt Jemima-type black or a saintly Indian immigrant.
You can't help but assume that much of the anger was fuelled by Khan's own run-in with Newark customs, where the incensed star made a loud stink after being searched instead of recognized.
The movie is so self-righteous, it's infuriating. If this is a sign of things to come from the new wave of Bollywood productions, let's hope they don't make it past customs.