UPDATE: Shiv Sena, a political organization with waning popularity, has been actively campaigning against this film. Given the recent history of Shiv Sena, one can only assume that this movie has been targeted because the lead actor, Shah Rukh Khan is Muslim and he is portraying a Muslim who has suffered discrimination. Today, there has been a noticeable increase in security in Mumbai, but no plans to cancel screenings. On the contrary, it seems as though this controversy has caused an upsurge in excitement over the movie.
A blog about human rights is not normally a place to read about upcoming movies, but you all should have a look at the Bollywood movie “My Name Is Khan” scheduled for release tonight (2/12/2010). The movie is about a Muslim man (played by mega Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan) who grew up in a Muslim neighborhood (but secular family) in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), immigrates to America and falls in love with the person who becomes his wife (played by another mega Bollywood superstar Kajol). Oh, here’s the trailer:
So the wrinkle is that Shah Rukh Khan’s character has Asperger’s Syndrome (a mild form of autism) and so has trouble fitting in. Despite that, things were going really swimmingly until 9/11 results in he and his family being targeted repeatedly because of their Muslim faith. There is discrimination and racial profiling complicated by Khan’s Asperger’s Syndrome. The seminal moment comes when Khan is in secondary screening at the airport and he says “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.”
Of course, this being a Bollywood movie, there will still be some uniquely Bollywood touches like Khan somehow ending up in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the over the top romantic element. But, unfortunately, there are no song and dance routines which often substitutes for quality acting in many of Bollywood’s output. Despite that, those interested in how foreigners view the United States after 9/11 albeit in a rather un-nuanced way, cannot go wrong with this movie. It also shows quite graphically how it feels to be discriminated against in your adopted country.