Finally a Bollywood blockbuster in the theatres after so long. New York
is directed by Kabir Khan, whose last film Kabul Express
had simultaneously informed, irritated and amused its audiences.
If that was a rare achievement for a mainstream Bollywood film, New York
also manages to intelligently entertain. Set against the backdrop of a post 9/11 America, the film is the story of two young Muslim boys of Indian origin and their girlfriend Maya, played by Katrina Kaif. The three haven't been in touch since college and September 11, 2001, a date that changed the world and their lives.
Many years later, we find out that John's character Sameer, a super-intelligent and athletic American guy, is married to Maya and also has a kid. Usman, played by Neil Nitin Mukesh, is under interrogation by the FBI. It is suspected that Sameer now runs a sleeper terrorist-cell in New York City. The FBI would like to plant Usman as its cover-agent to unearth the terror network. There is no relationship between this and the conspiracy theory film Arlington Road. If anything New York
is infinitely better.
Quite clearly these are career-defining roles for the central actors. And I say this because they are not quite the best actors in the world, but nonetheless vaguely surprise you with such sincere performances. No surprises with Irrfan Khan of course. He plays the FBI sleuth with a swagger that could remind you of Al Pacino, no less.
The film shows how the persecution of Muslims after 9-11 was real, even if the persecution complex thereafter was an exaggeration. It's a fairly balanced view on a subject that is easy to get rhetorical about. And we still watch a story unfold with all the masala and drama that you'd associate with commercial cinema.
is the kind of cinema that takes Bollywood forward. Also it is one of those rare films where the picture is so much better than a fairly misleading promo. Thankfully an A-list film that gets a straight A after long.