Entertainer with a message…
Congratulations Kabir Khan, Yash Raj Films, Bollywood fans and Katrina Kaif. Kabir because he has once again delivered a good film but this time it seems that commercial success will not elude him (the docu-maker’s first mainstream film, Kabul Express was critically acclaimed but didn’t make a lot of money). Yash Raj Films for supporting a project that goes beyond candy-floss romance and run-of-the-mill entertainment; also because their dry run seems to be coming to an end as after Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’s success, this film also has opened well. Bollywood fans because after a long-long time, we have a decent film to watch. And Ms. Kaif who finally got a film where she had scope to act and yes, she delivered!
New York touches upon the subject of post 9/11 prejudices and the human rights violations committed by the US government against ‘suspected’ terrorists. The film focuses on the lives of three friends, Sam (John Abraham), Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and Maya (Katrina Kaif) and how their lives get impacted after the attacks. The film highlights the plight of 1,200 men from religious minorities who were detained after the attacks for suspected terror connect. Keeping in mind a larger audience, the director keeps the torture sequences to a minimal but impactful.
Performance wise, Katrina Kaif and Irrfan Khan (as FBI agent, Roshan) shine; Irrfan because he is a fine actor and Katrina because you least expect her to. Finally, the actress got a film where she had a well defined character; she was not only convincing as an Indian-American (thanks to her accented Hindi) but was also good in emotional scenes. John Abraham is good and handles the changes in his character well. Neil Nitin Mukesh gets a tough character and it seems too challenging for the new actor; he tries hard but it shows.
There are many loopholes in the film and at times it reminds you of other movies (a scene where Katrina is frisked by a cop reminds you of an important scene from Crash, Oscar winning film on the theme of racism and intolerance) but overall the film comes together, thanks to a taut screenplay by Sandeep Srivastava. Cinematography by Aseem Mishra is first rate and music by Pritam is not memorable at all (top it with plagiarism charges).
I definitely recommend New York as an entertainer with a message. For those who would like to watch other films on similar theme, I recommend Shoaib Mansoor’s ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ (2007, Pakistan) and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition’ (2007, USA). Khuda Kay Liye is a bold film about religious profiling and the contrast between Islamic extremists and liberals. Rendition focuses on the subject of extraordinary rendition where suspected terrorists are secretly and unlawfully transferred to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques (read torture). Starring Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Omar Metwally; the film packs extraordinary performances by the cast and a gripping screenplay. Catch these two films on DVD and for now do watch New York at a theatre near you…
My rating: * * * ½ Three and a half stars (on five)
– Shrey Khetarpal