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Unmitigated trash!
Jun 27, 2009 07:23 PM 1671 Views





Honest confession: I am writing this review only because I am completely perplexed by critics’ and moviegoers’ reactions to this film. Accolades are being showered upon every aspect of this film, from the direction to the acting to the music. People are talking about bold moves in Indian cinema and saying how this is a step in the right direction. I have something to say to all that, and to the movie – Bollocks!

For the sake of completeness of the review, let me quickly summarize the film: the film revolves around 3 young people of Islamic origin whose lives undergo a significant transformation in the post-9/11 world in New York City. Enough said about the story and the plot. Let’s get on to how the film does.

The first thing to do before reviewing the film is to separate the sensitivity of the film’s subject from the quality of the film, because those are two entirely different aspects. Let me re-state this, because this is what I have noticed in a large number of reviews of this film: the film does not automatically become entitled to a 4/5 rating just because it deals with an important topic. Films have to stand up on their own, for the quality of the film-making, irrespective of whether they deal with religion, politics, family problems, teenage angst, or just a cat-and-mouse chase over a piece of cheese.

And that’s where this film fails pathetically. While the film’s premise is sound, and the story are the plot are good, it is in the execution that the film falls apart completely. The direction is the biggest culprit, for the film does no justice to the writer’s vision at all. The film did nothing for me – it did not make me reflect on anything that has happened in the last 8 years since 9/11. There is nothing in the film that is not already well known, and the visual portrayals of all that we have heard all these years were weak at best, and won’t really ruffle any feathers.

The acting was nothing short of horrible – from the main cast to the supporting crew. Katrina, with her natural accent, actually managed to fit in somewhat into her role, but what the hell were John and Mukesh doing? Even Irrfan Khan’s respectable performance could not salvage the acting front. And while we are on this, what’s with Indian filmmakers picking up the worst possible foreign actors for Indian films? Do they think that “white actor” = “good actor by default” for some reason? Every time Irrfan’s boss opened his mouth, or actually just showed his face, I wanted to cringe and hide under the seat. And that guy who John strikes a business deal with – where did they pick him up from? This is New York Kabir Khan – half the stewards and bartenders across the city of Manhattan are wannabe stars, and very, very good actors. Walking into 10 bars in NYC would have completed the foreign acting requirements of this film, and would have taken the film’s overall acting up to stratospheric levels.

And since I mentioned New York, ummm, why exactly is this film called New York? Just because we saw the two towers fall down? New York City is made for shooting films, and the director under-utilized this city so much that he landed up making this film pretty much city-agnostic. It could have been shot anywhere – really. LA, San Francisco, even London would have worked as well. What a waste!

Other aspects: the cinematography was mediocre; the production was pretty much the same; the dramatic arc non-existent – one could tell at pretty much every moment of the film what the next scene would be and hence there was nothing to look forward to. The music, to give credit where it is due, was one of the few beacons of hope in this otherwise dark film.

I rue this film in particular because it had so much potential, and because it missed a great opportunity to sensitize the Indian audiences to the darkness of the post-9/11 era. Kabir, Sandeep, the cast – please go and read a book like Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” if you really want to feel the pain of the innocent victims of this period. And respect their trauma – please do not trivialize their problems by churning out 2 hours 15 minutes of unmitigated trash.

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