The Adult Summer Reading program has ended, and the Foreign Film Series with it. My name is Khan was one of the movies picked for the series, but I hadn't gotten around to seeing it yet. Until this week. I sat down to watch it, with pleasant expectations of a big Bollywood movie, lots of singing and dancing. Wrong, but wow. This movie was an excellent, delightful choice to watch near 9/11. The message is "My name is Khan. I am not a terrorist."
No, Rizvan Khan is not a terrorist. He is a young Muslim with Asperger's who immigrates to the USA to live with his brother. The movie is his story, beginning when he is a child of a widowed mom in Bombay. His mother works very hard to help him, finding a teacher who will take on the challenge of one-on-one work with the hidden brilliance in Rizvan. His jealous brother emigrates and attends the University of Michigan! Unfortunately, there isn't alot in the film about Michigan, since Khan quickly winds up in California, selling beauty products for his brother from salon to salon. At one of these salons, he encounters Mandira, a beautiful Hindu girl, single mom, who is also very kind. Almost immediately, Rizvan begins proposing to her in his Asperger's way. She laughs, but eventually she realizes he is quite serious. Against all assumptions and against his family's wishes, she marries him, and he becomes a father to her young son Sameer. But tragedy is coming. 9/11 is coming.
You need to know that I am not much for crying and especially not for tearjerker movies. But I loved this movie, even if I did find myself crying in parts of it. My only criticism is that it is too long, but I hear the original version was even longer! It qualifies easily as an inspirational film, but most important, it is a great cultural film, giving a glimpse at America from a completely fresh perspective. There is a lot of humor, as well as Bollywood-style larger-than-life characters and events, tragedy, pathos, and injustice. ~Tessa J. Eger 4 out of 5 stars Rated PG-13