Happy (?) September 11: How Does it Look From India

This is sort of an odd post to make.  Obviously, as an American, I have a very complex and personal and emotional relationship to 9/11.  For one thing, it’s also my Grandpa’s birthday (95 today!).  But I want to set aside the American part of it for a post, and take a quick look at how Indian film has struggled with the changes 9/11 brought on the world. (obviously, all kinds of trigger warnings and I understand if no one wants to read this post, but I felt like I should make it)

I didn’t really think about Indian film and 9/11 until I was researching a paper on My Name is Khan.  Which is a film that did a really good job both addressing the tragedy, and then the subsequent tragedies of how it changed the way America interacted with its citizens.  Actually, it did a better job bringing these things to light than any American film I can think of.


New York came before My Name is Khan, and did some of the same things (the story of an average immigrant and how 9/11 effected him) but not quite as well.  It had an complicated plot that sort of lost track of itself and tried to do too many things.  But when it was just about John Abraham trying to recover from being imprisoned by the country he loved, and to find a way to keep living there afterwards, then it was interesting.


And then there’s Tere Bin Laden, which manages to be both sincere and funny at the same time, showing the unintended consequences of America’s “War on Terror”.  Really, if you are trying to fight the vague depression and fear that always comes with this anniversary, I highly recommend watching Tere Bin Laden.  It’s mostly good people mostly just trying to get along and laugh at how crazy the world is.


But really, for me, it all comes back to My Name is Khan.


10 thoughts on “Happy (?) September 11: How Does it Look From India

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  3. Allah hi Rehem I think is only played at the end creds. Apparently when Rizwan and Mandira are shaking hands. I heard somewhere that other Hindi film stars were supposed to play common folk in this sequence.

    (I also love the way they used the faster, more dramatic, more panicky Allah hi Rehem as Rizwan was fighting death on the hospital bed)


    • The reason I love it is the moment when it is played very briefly when Rizwan ‘ s brother and others arrive to help during the hurricane. It’s like the definition of a religious – humanist message.


      • Ooh I remember that now. Shortly after the journalists make it I think this was.

        Know I always thought it was quite nice seeing Jimmy and SRK together in a second movie. Most of all coz it felt like a role reversal of sorts. Like in Mohabbatein he was this subtly nerdy shy kinda guy who seemed to have a closer relationship with Raj than the other guys did (I noticed he was the one who would stay back and ask SRK things more often), and had the stronger character arc. And here in MNIK he’s the resentful-cum-protective younger brother who needs to step into an older-brother role because there are some things Rizwan may never be able to fathom and having a person who understands the world better than him – whether it is Zakir & Haseena or Mandira – always makes it easier to navigate.


        • The relationship stuff in MNIK is handled so well, and so lightly. And then the “public” stuff is so over the top! I still love the movie, but I wish everything had been as good as the scenes between Jimmy and Shahrukh. That sequence after his wife is attacked, when they go to the house and Jimmy calls Kajol “Bhabhi” for the first time, and then Shahrukh does his best to comfort him, that is so perfect, and not the usual “you’re my brother so I love you and that’s all there is to it!” kind of way that Indian film sometimes resorts to handling relationships.


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