New York (2009)
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The movie is shot entirely in US with beautiful scenics of US and shot stylishly like most Hollywood movies. The various torture scenes shot in detention center look very realistic and your heart will go for the terrorist suspects. The scene where Maya is being caught by a cop late in the night, and his client killing the policeman and the scene that follows will catch your heart. The rebellious eyes of Maya's client will keep your heart tied.
The entire cast of the movie has given their best and the movie is a show-stealer from day-one. Katrina's power packed performance justified her role as the sole heroine in the movie. Irfan, Neil and John have given one of their best performance in their life.
The film is generally decently written, and Kabir Khan's direction is good (albeit inconsistent). The portrayal of New York before and after 9/11 may not be great, but still can be forgiven, although the entire story of three friends and a love triangle between the three is not really necessary and is poorly executed. The film has some good performances. John Abraham is convincing as Sam and the viewer may feel for him as he witnesses the emotionally destructive experience his character had to go through. Katrina Kaif is surprisingly passable as Sam's supportive wife. Irrfan Khan is unsurprisingly brilliant in a role which is not very significant but contributes to the film in its own way. However, Neil Nitin Mukesh is awfully miscast and is evidently struggling a lot with a role that seems to put too much pressure on his limited range of acting abilities. The film's music is very good. I do recommend you to watch New York. It is entertaining, although I wouldn't say it's a film that can be watched over and over again. I appreciate Kabir Khan for taking on a fairly risky subject and handling it with aplomb. Many other filmmakers would make it look overly banal and unconvincing, and though New York is not without its clichés and consistency is not the right word to describe it with, Khan succeeds in making an impressive film with a poor script which manages to move you at certain points.
I had been impressed by director Kabir Khan's debut feature Kabul Express, which also starred Abraham, and Khan has a knack for drawing the audience into contemporary social issues, given his journalist background. For his two features to date, he has crafted tales around the issue of terrorism, not to glamorize it, but to tell the more human aspects into what probably were the push factors for someone to go off the edge and succumb to the notion that violence is the only means available to justify their cause. And to do so without draping the film in melodrama, or with sympathy in excess.
In Kabul Express, we look at the background of a Taliban soldier who in frequent role reversals, become both the captive and the captor, with a moving story as to what made him do the things he did. In New York, a similar strategy applies in addressing some post-9/11 issues where foreigners were profiled and held in detention, finally being released in months or years because of the lack of evidence. If Bollywood constantly draws inspiration from Hollywood, then the film that had dealt with similar themes would be Rendition, and a smattering of Crash thrown in as well.
The film spent its first act very much closely resembling that in the trailer, which dwells on the lives of three good friends who met at the New York State University, Americans of Indian origin Sam(ir) Sheik (Abrahan), Maya (Katrina Kaif) and an Indian student on a scholarship Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh). Having two guys and a girl translates to a romantic triangle brewing, where Maya drifts toward the more down-to-earth Omar, but having her heart already firmly set for the arrogantly confident Sam. It's like a teenage college romance with a lengthy musical montage just to cement their fast and strong relationship, until declarations from the heart, and 9/11 come play a part to separate them all.
To tell you any more would be to spoil the fun, because the story takes an interesting narrative structure in keeping you guessing who's turned to the dark side, and who's not; who's lying and who's telling the truth. It has intensity almost close to that in Infernal Affairs, where you wonder just who might turn because of the allegiance to friendship. You can imagine how you would feel if you're asked by the authorities to work undercover for them just because they have something against you, and you're to cooperate for leniency or face the music - what would you do to save your own skin, and if it calls for covert surveillance of your friends, would you do it? Irrfan Khan's Roshan is an FBI agent because of his roots and ability to connect with his "brothers", and this comes fairly accurately as the US agencies had begun to ramp up its recruitment of non-native English speakers so that they can gain keen insights from surveillance to things like translation. In fact, the Roshan character was dangerously close to being a clone of Irrfan's Slumdog Millionaire turn, especially at the interrogation table in having to fish out the truth. Neil Nitin Mukesh had more of a dramatic challenge with his role as the freshie Omar compared to his action role as a photographer in Aa Dekhen Zara, while John Abraham looked very much comfortable with his self-assured character given his alpha-male persona. Despite being one of the most photographed actresses/models in India, this film would mark my first watching Katrina Kaif in action, and I guess beautiful women get no love from female audiences who are there to root for the two male leads.
New York struck a fine balance between drama and action, devoting time to each primarily before and after the intermission. It may not be the first film that dealt with the terrorism issue on US soil, but it did enough to continue the awareness that sometimes certain policies stemming from acute paranoia just don't work, and may become that self-fulfilling prophecy that would return to haunt you. Between Kabir Khan's two films, I still prefer the former, but that doesn't mean that New York isn't worth a shout out.
Most people commented about the movie not being aptly emotional. I disagree. I'd like the way how the team worked to make it what I call "Not Sappy".
I'm really happy that the Indian Film Industry is making these bullshit free movies. Thanks for this.
The part I found troubling is the way the US is defended. The filmmaker succeeds in making terrorist sympathizers of the audience, then lamely states the US case with totally unconvincing platitudes. The US government relentlessly behaves in a brutal and unapologetic manner throughout the film, and is then defended with a line like, "People make mistakes. Countries do, too." Well, if my wife made a mistake as severe as the US makes in this movie (drawn heavily from the headlines), she darn well better apologize or I'm gone! But do the Americans apologize? Have Americans ever apologized, i.e. the way Kevin Rudd did recently? There are MANY films that deal with these moral/political issues far better. The Bollywood epic "Mission Kashmir," for all its Bollywood silliness, does a far better job. The outstanding Indo-American film "The War Within" is my favorite of these issue films. And any of the movies of Mani Ratnam show how a popular entertainment can also be smart.
Before I go onto discus relatively minor issues of the technical aspects of the film-making of the film, I want to discuss the more major issues that a film on 9/11 requires deliberation on: political ideologies. As many have remarked in earlier reviews New York seem to have a confused political ideology. In the first half, you are exposed to the horrors of the Patriot act, detention centres and torture to which many South Asians, particularly those of Muslim descent were being subjected to, and how this lead to huge alienation and radical sentiments amongst the Muslim population. So you think this is a film made on the plight of these innocent people and will be critical of such policies.
In the second half,these policies are justified by blaming Muslims themselves for alienating themselves from America. Prior to this, America was a benign, secular, free and embracing democracy in which Indian students were actually not just amongst the most popular in American college campuses, but the most popular. Everyone was happy, free loving and enjoying their life. It was the fault of Muslims that all this changed.
By the end of the film, because the Muslims have rectified their ways, America loves Muslims again. So much so that the child of an actual terrorist is the most popular kid in his school. It's all free and loving again. There is even a message in the end-credits on how Obama has closed down the detention centres - now we can all live happily ever after.
Of course, many know that none of that is reality. No, America was not a completely benign, secular and free embracing democracy in which Indians enjoyed equal or even better status prior to 9/11. Nor, was it the fault of Muslims that America enacted policies like Patriot act, illegal detention and torture, and instigated wars. These policies were already in the pipelines long before 9/11. One simply has to read the policies of the Bush administration prior to 9/11 to find virtually all the post 9/11 policies contained therein.
And finally no, none of these policies have changed. If one looks at the statistics the alienation of Muslims has not decreased, but increased. The detention centres are still open and fully operational. The wars are still going on and more are being planned. Americans are still losing their civil rights by the day. And as for Obama, let alone closing Guantanamo, he has called for prolonged detention of anybody who COULD be a terrorist in the future without warrant, without trial, without evidence.
It is a given that the Bollywood formula is mostly a fantasy genre of film-making. It is not suppose to be reality, but a hyper-real reality, more vibrant and more idealistic than the real world. However, it is insulting to ones intelligence, when it transposes this formula onto serious issues like 9/11 and human rights issue. Such issues demand realism, deliberate critical and intelligent political commentary and pain streaking research. But, in "New York" we get a New York that is a montage of nothing more than perfect and idyllic shots of modernism; presenting nothing more than escapism for a developing India. We see fun, frolics and perfect relationships which seem be juxtaposed from an episode of friends. It is small wonder why Indians have such rose-tinted expectations of places like America and are in a hurry to leave India for these paradises.
The common man on the streets of New York could not relate to the fantasy New York in this film. Nor could the cultured and educated intellectual. In short to sum up the political critique of this film: the film is an outright sham.
Moving on to the more minor points of film-making. The director, Khan, has a very promising and vivid visual style, and this observation was not lost on me in his debut film, "Kabul express" The production values of this film are superlative, and this is evident from the opening credit sequence itself. It maintains its slickness throughout. However, the slickness is very self-aware and one soon tires of the endless slow motion shots and the really set-up and choreographed lighting.
The screenplay is overlong, meandering and repetitive. After a while one begins to become frustrated with too much of the same.
The first song is incredibly long, that you actually wait for it to end. This is a shame, because this is probably the best song in the film. The others are a bit lacklustre and often unnecessary.
The acting is for the most part embarrassing. While most actors are passable, the acting of Nitin Mukesh is unforgivable. One wonders if he's there just because he is white. As somebody said earlier he fumbles even the simplest scenes. His attempt at acting brings a lot of unintentional comedy in this film, which completely ruins the more sombre mood it tries to establish at times.
All up: A film which is worth missing, if you're not politically and socially illiterate.
The 9/11 wave of films have more or less past and New York happens to be one of the first Bollywood films to tackle the subject. This becomes a slight problem as the film's core theme lacks the contemporary nature to truly challenge political alignments. Though, the film still uses its narrative to good effect by highlighting the jadedness of Omar's current predicament with the lightheartedness of his college years. It is a well formed juxtaposition of Omar's life and highlights just how different the world has become for him. But beyond this the narrative is fairly simple while Omar attempts to become accustomed with Sam's life in order to aid the FBI with their investigation. There are no musical and dance sequences, which would have detracted from the experience, but the cued music in certain scenes do not work to full effect. There is a track in the first half which losses vibrancy a good few minutes before the scene ends, and another track in the latter half of the film which does not suit the mood at all. Though the film never becomes a tight thriller, these oversights lessen the chances the film does have. Finally the film suffers from an overload of political views: first America is seen in a negative light for torturing Muslims and then the films moves to Muslims standing up against terrorism to make a better life for Muslims in America, to name but a few of the issues. These two core messages keep playing until the conclusion and whenever the film appears to be pro Muslim it undercuts this peaceful tone with America hate before Obama as president. The film's themes are muddled, but worse yet they are themes that have already been debated: New York offers nothing new for audiences to engage with.
The ensemble of actors in New York is good but the skill rarely exceeds expectations, but rather all are merely competent enough to see the film through. Abraham is more believable with his fun-loving college self then he is as a man who could be running a terrorist group. However praise must be given to him with his scenes involving him locked up for being a suspected terrorist: the anguish and pain he expresses feels real, but it is just a pity this sort of emotion is not carried throughout the film. Mukesh has a similar transition feeling more believable when defending himself and trying to fix everything then he is in other scenes. Kaif's role, while prominent compared to other films, is still lesser compared to her two male counterparts. Though she does feel more comfortable in this role then she has in previous where it feels like she is wasting any talent she may have. Rounding off the cast is Irrfan Khan as FBI investigator Roshan: he is not the lead but you sort of wish he was. He is a far more the more capable actor and he brings a pedigree to a film which deserves to better then it ends up being.
Considering its subject matter New York is not quite as violent as expected. There is no sex or nudity and language is virtually unnoticed.
New York is an interesting film or should be: its subject matter and political messages all seem rather unnecessary these days. It is great to see a Bollywood film dealing with post 9/11 experiences but it is geared in the wrong way and even confused at the ideology it wishes to have. The narrative shows signs of artistic nature but is too linear in its approach. The actors work with their respective roles but besides Kahn they are not consistent in delivering at their best. New York is a competent film but it is just not refreshing.
The first thing to do before reviewing the film is to separate the sensitivity of the film's subject from the quality of the film, because those are two entirely different aspects. Let me re-state this, because this is what I have noticed in a large number of reviews of this film: the film does not automatically become entitled to a 4/5 rating just because it deals with an important topic. Films have to stand up on their own, for the quality of the film-making, irrespective of whether they deal with religion, politics, family problems, teenage angst, or just a cat-and-mouse chase over a piece of cheese. And that's where this film fails pathetically. While the film's premise is sound, and the story are the plot are good, it is in the execution that the film falls apart completely. The direction is the biggest culprit, for the film does no justice to the writer's vision at all. The film did nothing for me it did not make me reflect on anything that has happened in the last 8 years since 9/11. There is nothing in the film that is not already well known, and the visual portrayals of all that we have heard all these years were weak at best, and won't really ruffle any feathers.
The acting was nothing short of horrible from the main cast to the supporting crew. Katrina, with her natural accent, actually managed to fit in somewhat into her role, but what the heck were John and Mukesh doing? Even Irrfan Khan's respectable performance could not salvage the acting front. And while we are on this, what's with Indian filmmakers picking up the worst possible foreign actors for Indian films? Do they think that "white actor" = "good actor by default" for some reason? Every time Irrfan's boss opened his mouth, or actually just showed his face, I wanted to cringe and hide under the seat. And that guy who John strikes a business deal with where did they pick him up from? This is New York Kabir Khan half the stewards and bartenders across the city of Manhattan are wannabe stars, and very, very good actors. Walking into 10 bars in NYC would have completed the foreign acting requirements of this film, and would have taken the film's overall acting up to stratospheric levels.
And since I mentioned New York, um-mm, why exactly is this film called New York? Just because we saw the two towers fall down? New York City is made for shooting films, and the director under-utilized this city so much that he landed up making this film pretty much city-agnostic. It could have been shot anywhere really. LA, San Francisco, even London would have worked as well. What a waste! Other aspects: the cinematography was mediocre; the production was pretty much the same; the dramatic arc non-existent one could tell at pretty much every moment of the film what the next scene would be and hence there was nothing to look forward to. The music, to give credit where it is due, was one of the few beacons of hope in this otherwise dark film.
I rue this film in particular because it had so much potential, and because it missed a great opportunity to sensitize the Indian audiences to the darkness of the post-9/11 era. Kabir, Sandeep, the cast please go and read a book like Mohsin Hamid's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" if you really want to feel the pain of the innocent victims of this period. And respect their trauma please do not trivialize their problems by churning out 2 hours 15 minutes of unmitigated trash.
The script is very strong with competing performance specially by John Abraham! he has done it.. n i am glad, he proved that he can really act & much better than many of the overrated stars in the industry. next strength of the movie is of course the man 'Irfan Khan', he has done a tremendous job. Neil is pretty gud as well... i wud say still learning n getting better. Katrina is as usual hopeless & casted just to look good!
overall the movie is indeed worth watching..... A very different stuff from usual bollywood stuff!
"One-event changes entire life", c'mon - its so 1970's Bollywood "badla" tried-tested-sour theme. Natural progression and inching towards the other side of the line would have been much convincing.
Niel Mukesh:: Gave his best performance. Looked convincing as a student. The silent love-track wasn't warranted, or perhaps its YRF influence (read that "force-fit"). I was laughing aloud when he walks out heart- broken when the 9/11 is shown on telly (as my friend quipped, perhaps his very own twin towers were grazed!).
John Abraham:: As mentioned earlier, the character is not developed properly. And his personality looks way ahead of a student. Had immense scope to exhibit his talent - however a mediocre performance fails to rise above the expectations.
Katrina:: The silent-spectator character whose only purpose seems to be an eye-candy on the screen and maybe when revelation that she knows it all. Otherwise an unwanted character in the plot.
Irfan Khan:: Again, his character and lines are Bollywoodish ie. half- baked.
And for those who have an appetite for a surreal story dealing with similar subject - give "The Hamburg Cell" and "Britz" a go and it will come to realise what depth actually means.
First a perfectly reasonable basis for a hard hitting script is handled with kid gloves, bringing in performers who are more stars than actors, Secondly the basics of film making is systematically abandoned by assuming that the average Multiplex viewer in India is stupid enough to digest whatever crap is dished out before them if there are enough pretty clothes, beautiful faces and cheesy songs. There is no attempt at characterization, the dialogs are laughable, the writing is so poor that it makes you cringe in your seats with the use of triangular love story plot devices.
It reduces a sentimental and powerful subject as that of post -9/11 events to a mere circus.
The only saving grace in the movie was perhaps Irrfan Khan as an FBI officer but his role too turned out to be leaning more on entertainment value than anything else.
Three friends, ready to face the world... and then the world changed. This is the tagline. It was New York that had changed in the movie. The world was nowhere in sight. The script was good, light and humorous. Katrina's performance was amazing, considering that she doesn't know how to act. John was Good, and for a change so was Niel. Irrfan had that humorous touch in his voice that many love.
The direction is smooth, but too much slow motion at times. The cinematography is mind-blowing. Everything is beautifully captured. Editing is also smooth. The soundtrack is good, specially the Hai Junoon track. Thank god there are no dance sequences. They would have totally spoiled it up.
New York is one of those movies that tried very hard to strike a message, but fails. Don't get me wrong: the movie is not bad. It's another good film under the Yash Raj Banner, and it almost fully satisfies the movie-hungry person who has been hungry for 2 months, but, like Rang De Basanti, it's not able to strike a chord as a movie of it's genre should. What they've shown is fact, no doubt, but doesn't feel true. Maybe that's why. There was something lacking in the script, I'm sure, though it's really not spot-able!! I gave it a 7/10, because it didn't work that good for me. But I'm sure many will give it an 8, 9 or even 10. I'm hoping it's average to linger in the 7 point somethings. Not below that. Happy viewing.
Performance wise it's difficult to choose if John was superior or Neil. Both have surely performed one of their best for many years to come. John's transformation from a true patriot to terrorist is not only a heart warming cliché for those who had really gone through such horrifying times but it also brings sympathy for those people who got mislead to path of destruction and revenge. On the other hand Neil played touch perfection role of a friend who lets himself on line of fire just to see well being of his loved one. The passion of his love towards Maya (Katrina) earlier and later his compassion to the same woman just to see her happy. His portrayal of a helpless person under adverse circumstances being pulled by his moral & ethics and trust & honesty towards his friends. He played this entangled role better to anybody, kudos to these two stars for putting such great performance. Katrina has finally arrived to acting for good. Her unquestionable love and care towards Sameer (John) is really touching. Every tear she drops for him is worth it, a classy performance from her too. Last but not the least Irfaan Khan who knows how to perform, he makes all the roles he play one for him. His implacable and flawless acting skills make him one of the best contemporary actors India has produced in recent times. Kabir Khan's approach as director is impressive, first he took Afghanistan as his subject in Kabul Express and now the more controversial post 9/11 issue and both times he did complete justice to the subjects. Yaaron song is surely going to be rhymed for years to come and so the movie will be remembered as one of the true portrayal of post 9/11 aftermath. Don't expect an entertainer while you go watching this one, I am sure you would be disappointed but it's worth to be seen.
Starring John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Irffan Khan, this is directed by Kabir Khan, written by Sandeep Srivastava and Produced by Yash and Aditya Chopra.
The movie captures the atmosphere that surrounded everyone at the time of 9 /11 and the after affects that some faced and especially those who were innocent. The methods of interrogation, the scene where, one of the character is tortured while he is nude, are all hard hitting and makes one think about such brutality taking place. There are moments, where one is led to think that "here comes another love triangle" but it is not to be and the director has handled that particular aspect of the story very well. Having set 9/11 as the backdrop of this story, the use of showing the Twin Towers before the incident and then showing the incident as its shown on news channel, it keeps one glued to the screen.
Katrina Kaif suited her role very well and her accent was spot on. She was also able to portray her facial emotions when needed and in deed good acting from her. She has shown that she does not need to do those raunchy dances that she did in "Race." Neil Nitin Mukesh also suited the role well and again, has proved his talent and with each film that he has worked in so far, this is one of his best performances. John Abraham, who worked with Kabir Khan before in "Kabul Express," has shown his versatility and is good and has shown that he is capable of doing serious roles as well as comedy "Garam Masala" and "Dostana." Irrfan Khan is, as usual good and is able to play the role of an Indian officer who works for the FBI.
Kabir Khan has handled this subject very well and the movie is worth watching at least once.
Movie starts off decently but soon everything turns sore. Omar(Neil Nitin Mukesh)delivers his worst performance; I could not figure out one moment where he was able to act convincingly enough to sympathies with the character portraited by him. Maya(Katrina Kaif) looks beautiful in movie and thats all she is there for. Sam(John Abraham) is the best actor in movie relatively. Biggest let down in movie is that it never able to make to sense the scenario it all look way too superficial. Avoid this movie as much as you can. If you want to see movie on similar theme go for KHUDA KE LIYE.
My next point, the script is very loose or not convincing in many parts of the movie. In the climax, john enters an FBI building and installs detonators which is fine but when he enters the building, he was thoroughly scanned for any detonators and comes clean from the scan. If the director wanted him to show like that he should have shown how john manages to fool the security personnel from finding the detonators. The last scene is filled with Katrina trying hard to cry with no tears coming out of her eyes and FBI holding their fire forever and all bollywood crap.
Irfan's performance, Neil's acting are two things that give some relief from all the headache in this movie. All in all, i would say this movie is for people who are crazy about USA, john, Katrina and YRF. Other than that i find nothing great worth the 7.1 review that this movie got. I would vote a 5/10 for this movie .