POPULAR CINEMA IDEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS 3
PopularCinema Ideological Analysis Essay
MyName is Khan
“MyName is Khan” is a Bollywood drama film released in 2010. Bollywoodstar actor Shahrukh Khan is the main character, and the film’s mainagenda is to communicate goodness and humanity. It attempts to negatethe notion that Islam is associated with terrorism. Shahrukh Khanplays the role of Rizwan Khan. From Khan’s mum’s initialassertion there are only good and bad people, the film goes a longway in bringing this out, using different human interactions.
Thefilm begins with life in Mumbai, where Rizwan Khan lives with hismother Razia and brother Zakir. Rizwan Khan, henceforth referred toas "Khan," is suffering from Asperger`s syndrome but no oneis able to understand his problem at this stage. He is unable tostudy like his brother. However, he has special abilities like repairof machinery and quick problem solving. This impresses a scholar inthe neighborhood, who volunteers to tutor him. Due to his condition,Khan is given more attention by his mother. Zakir gets jealous anddecides to move to the United States for a better life.
Inhis adult life, Zakir invites and sponsors Khan to visit him in theUnited States. It is upon Khan`s arrival in the US that Zakir’swife, a psychologist, identifies that Khan is suffering fromAsperger’s syndrome. While marketing Zakir’s skin care products,Khan meets Mandira and marries her against his brother’s wish.Mandira had a son, Sameer, from her previous marriage.
Khan’shappy family gets disrupted after the September 11 attack. Americansstart perceiving Muslims as terrorists, and even children becomeindoctrinated. Sam is killed by his friends in a racially motivatedfight, owing to his adoption of a Muslim name. Mandira, indesperation, blames Khan for her son`s death. She instructs Khan tofind the US president and tell him that his name is Khan and he isnot a terrorist. Khan takes up this challenge and sets on a missionto deliver his message to the president. In an attempt to attract thepresident`s attention and deliver his message, Khan is misinterpretedby the police as saying he is a terrorist, leading to hisimprisonment. He is, however, later released due to media campaigns,and finally manages to meet the president-elect. President Obamaechoes Khan`s statement, and the film ends with Khan and Mandiragoing back home, their love rekindled.
Ideologycan be defined as the assumed culture of society, that is, thesocietal norms. It determines how individuals perceive themselves andinteract with others. The film focuses on negating the association ofIslam with terrorism. There are many instances where Khan ismistreated simply because of being a Muslim, yet he is not aterrorist. At the airport, Khan is subjected to through inspection onsuspicion that he may be carrying explosives other harmful weapons.Khan feels his privacy and integrity as a person being violated, buthe can do nothing about it. In fact, he is detained for quite longthat he misses his flight.
Whenhe visits a motel owned by a Gujarati, he is welcomed on the groundsof being Hindi. But then the motel owner makes disparaging remarksabout Islam and shots at a Muslim. First, the sound of gunfireadversely affects Khan due to his condition. He reacts to loudsounds. Secondly, the remarks about Islam pierce Khan to the extentthat he tells him "My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist."
Inhis struggles to meet the President, Khan comes across Wilhemina,which is inhabited by African-American. He meets Mama Jeny, with whomhe makes friends, together with her son whom Khan refers to as‘Funny-Hair Joe.’ He accompanies them to church and joins inmemorialization of martyrs in war. Khan joins in the singing ofChristian hymns. In the church, all martyrs irrespective of religionwere remembered and appreciated Sameer Khan being one of them. Byhim going to church yet he is a Muslim, he communicated the fact thatreligion does separate humans per se. It also depicted the cordialrelationship that existed between African Americans and Indians.
WhenKhan marries Mandira, she and her son adopt Khan`s name. They becomeMuslims because of Khan. This attracts animosity from Americanchildren. While playing, Sameer Khan entered into an argument withhis friends, which degenerated into racial insults, turned violentand he was ultimately killed by the gang of school boys. Mandirasquarely blames Khan for the death of her son. She argues that hadshe not gotten married to him her son would not have been killed.
Mandiratried to seek justice from the police following the death of her son.However, the police did not do much to investigate the murder. Thereluctance of the police is attributed to the fact that Sam’s dad,Khan, was a Muslim. Had he been the son of a Christian or Hindu, thepolice would have gone an extra mile to unearth his murderers.
Khanmet President Bush giving a speech at a college in Los Angeles. As hetries to capture the president’s attention, he shouts “My name isKhan, and I am not a terrorist.” Police misinterpret what he issaying, and get him as shouting that he is a terrorist. He istherefore immediately arrested and detained for being a terrorist.
Themedia was awash with news of incarceration of Muslims on suspicion ofbeing terrorist. One Indian Sikh Journalist even shaved his beard soas to avoid being mistaken as a terrorist. Being Muslim or lookinglike a Muslim was reason enough to get arrested in the US, followingthe September 11 attacks.
Apsychiatrist, Radha, examines Khan and concludes that he is innocent.The American Autistic Society contacts the judge to release Khan.This request, coupled with the story by Indian reporters where theyhighlighted Khan’s attempts to report Faisal, a Muslim who isradicalizing other Muslims in America, lead to Khan being set free.
Uponhis release, Khan returned to Wilhemina, which was suffering atragedy after being hit by a hurricane. He helped in the rescuemission and was captured on television doing this noble work. ManyMuslims joined in the rescue mission as well, including his brotherZakir and Haseena, Zakir’s wife. This was a show of solidarity ofhumankind, traversing racial and religious borders. These people whowere helping in the rescue mission can be referred to as ‘good’people in Razia’s words.
However,there are instances where the movie brought out the idea that Muslimsare terrorists. The teachings of Dr. Faisal Rahman at the mosquepoint to the radicalization of the Muslim faithful. Dr. Faisal usesbad language to incite Muslims to kill Christians and Hindus. Hetells fellow Muslims that Christians and Hindus are their enemies,and should be eradicated. None of them should make friends withpeople from the other religions. When Khan heard this, he castigatedhim as Satan a liar out to spread malice and hatred in the world. Hetook out stones from his bag and threw then at Faisal, a symboltypical to the Muslims’ stoning of Satan during Hajj. Religiously,Khan’s journey to meet the president is typical of the sacredpilgrimage.
Whenradical Muslims learned that Khan reported Dr. Faisal to the FBI,they tracked him and stabbed him while on a noble mission helpingvictims of the hurricane in Wilhemina. They labeled him as a traitorof their religion. This strengthens the notion that Americans hadabout Muslims. However evil Dr. Faisal`s teachings sounded, he stillhad followers who believed he was saying the right thing.
Anotherinstance where religious intolerance on the side of Muslims isdisplayed is when Zakir opposed Khan’s marriage to Mandira. Zakirdisowned Khan, saying that Mandira is a Hindu they are differentfrom them. This refusal to accept someone from another religion intotheir family is a depiction of a high level of intolerance in theMuslim culture. Until now, Muslims do not approve of inter-religiousmarriages.
Apartfrom depicting Islam as a good religion, this film also focuses onracial relationships. The friendship of Khan and Mama Jenny and FunnyHair Joel illustrates the relationship that exists between the Hindusand African Americans. They sang the chorus "We Shall Overcome,"which can be interpreted as referring to the challenges AfricanAmericans and Hindus face, being minority groups in the UnitedStates. The song is an expression of national unity and overcoming ofpoverty and inferiority.
However,there is a scene where an African-American woman denied Khan entryinto a Christian fundraising for the African child. As much as theturning away of Khan might be considered racial and religiousintolerance, I would like to look at it from the angle that Khan waswilling to join and help the African child, which is a show oftogetherness between the races. Wood holds that in most movies,blacks and Asians are used in supportive roles. In this film, indeedblacks have been used as supporting characters. The main charactersare Asians (because the film is Indian).
Inaddition, Robin Wood (2002) states that blacks are usually given thenegative roles to play. The African American woman who denied Khanentry to a fundraising depicted this assertion by Wood. That was abad thing to do, considering how willing Khan was to help.
RobinWood also argues that movies are resolutely male-centered. This filmconfirms this right from the main character, Rizwan Khan. Women suchas Razia and Haseena are almost insignificant in the film. Mandirahas been captured in quite a substantive scenes. However, she is onlyone and it so happened because she married the main character, Khan.
Wood(2002) also suggests that in most films, mothers’ presence isusually negligible. In this film, as stated above, Razia`s presenceis negligible. She is even unable to stop Zakir from going to the US.When Khan marries Mandira, he is the one we see playing with Sam andnot Mandira.
Whyit is a popular cinema
"MyName is Khan" is a popular cinema because it generatesentertainment. It was created to suit the director, producer andactor`s objectives. The film was designed to bring in money, which isevident from the USD 26 Million revenues in buy-over recorded for themovie as of 2016, topping other Bollywood films. The film is full ofsuspense in the second half, which makes viewers clamor to view thenext scene until it is over. It is quite entertaining.
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Kathleen,M.E. (2015). Religious and National Identity in My Name is Khan.Journal of Religion & Film
Khan,S. (2013). Being a Khan. Outlook Turning Points
Wood,R. (2002). Party Time or Can`t Hardly Wait for That American Pie:Hollywood high school movies of the 1990s. Cineaction CanadianBusiness & Current Affairs Database