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American Women's Club of Hamburg

My Name Is Khan

Starts June 10

Director Karan Johar brings the famous Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol Johar to Hollywood. This took me by surprise since two years ago I saw Shah Rukh Khan at the Berlinale and he said that he wasn’t interested in doing something in America since he had a great life in India.

The film is set in a pre 9/11-time period starting in India where we meet Rizan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), a Muslin Indian who has Asperger’s syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder). If this sounds involved and complicated, it is but then again that is the storytelling that makes Bollywood famous. This story moves quickly as brilliant, technically- but-socially-flawed Khan moves from India to live with his brother in America since his strong-willed mother dies. Khan deals with culture shock but also his social and irrational fears cause him to collide with the beautiful Mandira (Kajol Johar).

At this point in the film I was ready to see exotic dresses, dances and the screen filled with colorful emotion but that did not happen. In fact Khan begins to have the perfect American family life that we almost forget that he has a syndrome. When 9/11 hits, his world unravels to reverse prejudice, where his family life unravels, and he begins a quest to see Mr. President and tell him that his name is Khan but he is not a terrorist.

The film at this point becomes an Indian-style Forest Gump story where he changes the lives he touches as he travels the country. It is an interesting take on the 9/11 story but Khan doesn’t capture your heart like the typical Bollywood films that we all know and love.

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