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New York : Hindi Movie Review

June 30, 2009

Kabir Khan’s “New York” is a hindi film set in the aftermath of 9/11 and its consequences faced by people especially those from South Asia. First things first, it’s perhaps a tad too late to have released in 2009. The world has seen almost everything related to 9/11 and the subsequent violation of human rights and from that perspective Kabir Khan’s film is little cliched. Yet, it’s a well researched story which should have been brought to light much earlier. Featuring John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Irrfan Khan and Katrina Kaif, “New York” fiddles with themes like Terrorism, Race, Harassment, Suspicion, Religion, Immigration, Torture etc,. Does it sound familiar? Well, you are not alone if you think so. Couple of years ago, Pakistan film Industry made a beautiful film called “Khuda Ke Liye” which tried to address the same issue. There’s a hell a lot of difference between the execution of these two films, although Kabir Khan seems to have imbibed quite a few themes from “Khuda Ke Liye”.  “New York” is also the first major film to have released after the multiplexes-producers face off and this time, it’s bound to set the cash registers ringing with its sensible portrayal of normal people dragged into extraordinary situations.

Omar (Neil) is detained by FBI and he is told that he’s facing charges of abetting Sam (John) in the latter’s terrorism related activities. When Oman pleads his innocence, FBI gives him a chance to acquit himself of all charges. All he has to do is be an undercover operative for FBI. Omar accepts the offer and challenges the FBI agent that he will come clean. The rest of the film follows Omar’s pursuit for truth about his friend.

The film has been in the making for quite sometime and Kabir Khan does a great job in bringing some true stories and the gruesome details especially those dealing with torture, to life through his film. Themes like 9/11 are extremely sensitive and to present a story without taking sides is even tougher. There’s a dialogue in this movie which Irrfan Khan delivers, “All of them were right, but they took a wrong decision at a wrong time.” Too often films based on terrorism especially those dealing with 9/11 put Islam in the centre of action. And in almost all the films muslims are shown as victims of unwarranted and often impulsive suspicion. It’s true in a way. But then, you can’t blame the Americans for that! They did have proof that most of the terrorist directly linked to 9/11 were from South Asia and were all Muslims (or was it just fabricated by the media?).  The tactics used by American agencies like FBI and CIA while interrogating is a matter of great disgrace and they are definitely guilty of violating human rights of several innocent civilians who were illegally detained without any proof in the name of Patriot Act. It’s a vicious circle of suspicion for which there’s no solution until one of the factions calls for truce.

“New York” is yet another attempt to pin point the horror brought upon innocent civilians by FBI in the aftermath of 9/11 . And that’s where lies both its strength and weakness. Much of “New York”‘s sparkling moments come from some brilliant performances by almost all the actors and actresses involved. On the other hand, the movie takes a stand which doesn’t justify both sides of the coin. We cannot argue against that Xenophobia of Americans especially in the wake of 9/11 where everyone with a beard, brown skin and a turban was a suspect. We cannot justify and digest the extent to which agencies like FBI, CIA can go to interrogate and as we have seen the incidents in Abu Ghraib prison and the notorious Guantanamo Bay Prison, their methods have been barbaric and a matter of great disrespect to humanity. On the other hand it’s difficult to not feel sympathetic and empathize to those innocent civilians especially from South Asian community who were illegally detained. In the end, the ongoing war across the world between US and the terrorists is all about protecting one’s self esteem and ego and that’s where the problem lies. It’s high time we realise that an eye for an eye makes the world blind. But then, I guess that’s not the philosophy which countries, religions across the world share or have in common.

Kabir Khan’s story about three friends who have their own share of stories linked to 9/11 sets a great platform for wonderful performances by everyone. John Abraham is brilliant as Sam and he can act! His role as a guy fighting for his pride is one of the best written characters in this film. The last time Kabir Khan and John teamed up was for “Kabul Express” back in 2006 and the last 3 years have been a major learning curve for John as an actor. Katrina Kaif as Maya plays a pivotal role in this film. Her desi accent suits her role perfectly and is quite a revelation during the emotional scenes. Neil Nitin Mukesh as Omar is good, although he’s not convincing enough with his diction. Irrfan Khan’s act as an FBI agent is wonderful and he’s especially good with his funny lines which comes as a sharp contrast to his otherwise ruthless act throughout the movie.

Cinematography is top notch throughout this film. Music by Pritam is great especially Junoon is a foot tapping number. Yash Raj Films is bound to have a turn around from their string of flops through “New York”. Barring a few cliched lines which were inserted to prove that USA is a land of equal opportunity and that no matter what your race is, we all deserve the same rights, the film boasts of a good screenplay and some intense drama. In the end, the film is a brave attempt by Kabir Khan as he fiddles with a haunting ghost from the past which does get predictable at times and a little one sided in its perspective. Kabir Khan’s infatuation with religion and terrorism didn’t come to an end with his earlier flick “Kabul Express” and this time he presents a carefully researched story and a well narrated film in the form of “New York”. Go watch it, “New York” is a decent film which is a little too cliched for our age but it’s a story that has to be reminded again and again. But honestly I would rate and recommend “Khuda Ke Liye” more if you are looking for a movie on similar lines.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2009 12:27 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      July 1, 2009 1:53 pm

      @Sandra: Thanks..:)

  2. kopili permalink
    July 1, 2009 11:42 am

    Thanks for the review – got to see the movie now.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      July 1, 2009 1:54 pm

      @Kopili: Yeah…decent flick…good performances..

  3. Ram C permalink
    July 1, 2009 11:36 pm

    Hey hemanth, i expected that u will be mentioning a scene where Johs cries while eating in the Jail.That was taken in single shot for more than 1 min. Anyways liked that shot man, instead i can say i liked John doing good-it showed the entire pain one gets when he is detained………..

    • Hemanth permalink*
      July 2, 2009 12:23 pm

      @ram: Ohhh…yes! That was a wonderfully shot scene…but throughout that jail episode, i was thinking about “khuda ke liye”…and realised that i could empathise more with the latter film…no wonder I missed appreciating that 1 min scene…thanks for the reminder..:)

  4. Ram C permalink
    July 1, 2009 11:37 pm

    Its John not Johs*

  5. Hemanth permalink*
    July 2, 2009 12:23 pm

    @james: thanks!..:)

  6. July 3, 2009 12:58 pm

    hey i watched Kuda Ke Liye long back.. must watch movie….
    nice review… today i am watching this movie 🙂

  7. July 4, 2009 12:28 pm

    I think I liked this film.Though I have a few questions unexplained,this does make a good watch.
    🙂

  8. July 4, 2009 9:49 pm

    I tink newyork was worth watchn and was one of the best movies i watched for this year.excellent performances by all the actorz.

  9. July 4, 2009 9:51 pm

    I tink newyork was worth watchn and was one of the best movies i watched for this year.excellent performances by all the actorz.

  10. Mickey permalink
    July 7, 2009 1:15 am

    I recently watched NEW YORK. In my opinion, it was a wonderful movie with a great message on human suffering. All actors performed brilliantly and kudos to the entire cast and crew for their efforts. After a long time got to see something other than mindless entertainment.

  11. kavya permalink
    July 11, 2009 5:19 pm

    kabhakkt ishq n mrng walk review plzzzzzzz!!!!

  12. Hemanth permalink*
    July 1, 2009 1:53 pm

    Thanks for the pingback!..:)

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  1. New York : Hindi Movie Review « Waking Life in 24 Frames | Streaming Full Length Feature Films

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