New York(Kabir Khan, 2009): educating on terrorism.

**Disclaimer** This is a FILM REVIEW and is not a DECLARATION OF FAITH or IDEOLOGY or INTENTION. The ideas expressed in this piece are no pointer to how the author would think or behave in the past or future.

New York is the Godfather of terrorism films. It takes a complicated subject and simplifies it into a series of gut check reactions framed in a fast paced thriller.  You end up cheering for the terrorist protagonist in this complex sensitive piece of counter propaganda that took its time coming(has it been eight years after sep 11 already?). The other comparisons you draw are to the HBO miniseries with no end – “The Wire” and the Fredrick Forsyrth written Fred Zinneman directed 1973  film “The Day of the Jackal“.

This is the power of popular cinema. It is entertainment, propaganda and a reinforcement of your core beliefs- in the people you love, in country and in yourself, most importantly in yourself. You cheer for the taxi driver that kills a cop(who did no wrong), even if you know it is wrong to do so. You feel the rage of the protagonist being interrogated using bush Administration tactics and you sympathize , when you discover he’s planning a bombing. Poor Irfan Khan , is the ugly face of law enforcement speaking the unpalatable truth to the audience that is in no mood to listen.

Bollywood gets it right,  this is a movie that could only have been made by an Indian, spoilt as the billion of them  are in the delights of a democratic civil society, the privileges of eastern and western education and steeped in  beliefs about fundamental  human rights and justice in the world .  Liberal (G8) western democracies behave like gated communities  with conspiracies of silence. Their movies reflect this. Much of the Judeo-muslim world is ruled by tyranny. France , mired in it’s own racial identity problems, seems too busy sucking up to Studio Hollywood which itself  behaves like a Chinese  despot cloistered away in it’s own middle heaven of computer animated fantasy .

And  in  midst of all this, the Yash Raj film(and brand Bollywood) seems to ask the global Indian “who’se looking out for you?”.

Forget the fact that the producers are located (at least culturally) in Switzerland out of the sparsely populated Chopra Lake preoccupied with chasing bollywood booty, forget the fact that Bollywood is so busy selling out to Industrial magnates (think BIG) and Hollywood studios. Forget the fact that  John Abraham and Katrina Kaif come from the  dumb model  school of acting. This is entirely a Director’s  film. Kabir Khan (and Sandeep Srivatsava, writer ) bring in their conversant familiarity with the post September 11 2001 plight of Brown skinned Caucasians from asia to make a tenable thriller about an US created terrorist. The illegal detention/ torture depicted in the film could have happened in practically any gated community(liberal western democracy) , it only appears to be an outrageous violation of civil rights in the US(which is idealized as a model to strive for in such half educated tyrannies as iran and china). In most  other countries(the UK, France, Germany, Australia…) this thuggery by the state against immigrants is routine and almost expected.

New york is also a definitive film for the genre called Bollywood, And after much navel gazing , the industry seems to have decided that the studio money is all very fine but , really, they’re not going to toe any ideological line set by Hollywood. Bollywood’s message to the west  has been consistent from its earliest efforts in the mid ninties(pardes) . The American dream is not enough. The white picket fence is stained with blood of innocents (as it always has been) .and we remember in text through New York.

While a debate over the power of cinema to influence society has been had, and done to death on the left bank in france most of the billion Indians don’t know any deatails of this, and it does appear incorriguous to be having it in  in popular film, we are happy that films in the language are not completely insensitive to the preoccupations of their core audiences.

New York is a must watch , not only because Katrina Kaif look like edible milquetoast inlayers and tanks, but also , one suspects, from the facts in it that it will be required reading/ watching in every south asian cinema course on university campuses in the years to come.


About rameshram

Name : Ramesh Ram... Email Address : (don't even ask) Blog: (never updated) Height/ Weight: 6'1 175 (varies between 160 and 185) Color of hair/ eyes black/ brown Bald? Nope (not yet, but give me 20 years.) Interests: Film (Bollywood/international indie), Travel (Germany/Japan/Central America/Sout/east/west Asia/ Northern Africa), Gizmo geek, Clubbing... What do I like in a good movie?: Women, Music, Auters, Special effects, Style. What do I like in a bad movie?: Women, Music, Auters, Special effects, Style. Favorite Critic: International: Bazin Domestic: J Hobermann Indian : me. (noone else comes close ...India or here..) Best quality: Humility. Outspokenness. Warmth Worst quality: Intolerence Favorite color : Yellow Black Blue Favorite Perfume : men: Grey Flannel(Geoffery Beene) Women: Celine dion: Obsession Boxers / briefs : Boxers Did I inhale: And how! Author: Marquiz, Rushdie, Murakami, Jong Last Book: The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt Music : Patricia Kass, Alejandro Sanz,Nina Simone, Amir Diab Sports person: What am I usually in : White briefs and tees. Chianti or Burgandy: Chianti Food: French Japanese(street/fast food). Saw and liked: No Country for old men, Lust Caution Saw and disliked: Nishabd Didnt see: Aaja Nach le. Call me: Write me first.
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8 Responses to New York(Kabir Khan, 2009): educating on terrorism.

  1. I appreciate your thoughts on this very complex film Ramesh, and am now very curious to see it. Your description of the socio-economic implications of cross cultural realities is insightful, and frightfully honest. You bravely went there! Let’s see what the future has in store for this film…

  2. rameshram says:

    The film bravely went there. its articulate and intellignent…almost as much as I am .


  3. really? I thought the trailer looks so ridiculous, because none of these “actors” can act and it looks so typical Bollywood– cheesy, melodramatic, and just terrible. I burst out laughing while watching the trailer when I was seeing Billu Barber a few months ago. Your review surprises me.

    so is the Bollywood strike over now?

  4. rameshram says:

    yes it is. And I never judge a book by its cover. i always take it to bed, undress it, and kiss it ….before I judge it 😉

  5. adguru says:

    I though the movie was rubbish – propaganda!

    The movie tells us that Muslims are becoming terr0rists (or, shall I say ‘militants’ as our ELM and BBC likes to call them) only because the police an people treat them badly… soon MrKhan will make a movie on Batla House cleaning too….

  6. Manjesh says:

    “New York is the Godfather of terrorism films”…… ROFL

    I tell you how I stumbled upon your blog. You are such a shameless character you publish your blog’s link in somebody else’s blog while pretending to be commenting. I might have forgiven you for that if it was not for the outrageous statement above.

    My honest sugesstion to you. Don’t even think about ‘Godfather’. Coppolla will regret making that movie and Puzo will roll in his grave cursing himself for writing the book, if you say that word again.

    Happy movie watching. (Of course of your tastes. Like ‘New York’)

    • rameshram says:

      haha there’s a space for “website” on most blog comment things I ALWAYS put in the name of my blog, not for self promotion, I get about 20% of my traffic from hits from other blogs, but because people sometimes wonder “who the fuck is this guy, and is he well known” and they have something to argue about when they get to my blog, instead of doing flame wars on baddy’s blog or something.

      As regards New york, …uhm..New York is the Godfather of terrorism films. I would have called it the Day of the Jackal of terrorism films, but day of the jackal is the Day of the Jackal of terrorism films, so I couldn’t say that.

      Suggestion rejected after due considration.

  7. dr kusuma kumari g says:

    Terrorism is bad becuase this world peopel should live wihout fear All god are same may it allh jesus krishna or budha may god bless us all

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