Sunday, June 28, 2009

NY + 1 

New York

The terrorist attack on World Trade Centre ob September 11, 2001 destroyed peace in the world forever, and divided people in the US into ‘patriots’ and ‘outsiders’. It also put innocent Muslims on the defensive, and that continues years after the cataclysmic event.

A Muslim character in Kabir Khan’s earnest New York tells another that they should now put it behind and get on with life. But Khan doesn’t take his own advice. The film comes a little too late, portraying as it does, the mass arrest and torture of randomly arrested Muslims post 9/11 (done with great power in Khuda Ke Liye) and the revenge planned by a few.

Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is trapped by a FBI officer Roshan (Irrfan) into re-establishing contact with college friends Samir (John Abraham) and Maya (Katrina Kaif). In love with Maya, Omar had been heartbroken when she chose Samir.

Roshan believes Samir heads a terrorist cell, and wants Omar to infiltrate and report on their activities. Omar discovers that Samir had been arrested and tortured after 9/11 and he wants to regain his dignity.

The debate about the right and wrong of such revenge is rather watery and the implications of the act never really explored. What the film does (like Shoot on Sight) recently is point the finger of suspicion at Muslims—they are all potential terrorists, it says, if the provocation is severe enough. It certainly does not serve the cause of peace… its politics are fuzzy, and instead of avoiding jingoism, it inadvertently promotes it.

Khan keeps a tight grip on the narrative, however, and the film is also wonderfully shot. He also gets an unexpected sincere performance from John Abraham. Irrfan provides the meat, Neil Nitin Mukesh the muscle and Katrina Kaif the garnish. It’s a watchable film, but does not either provoke debate or quell it, which seems like an opportunity for raising the issue of understanding and empathy between communities wasted.


The title Runway, so you expect something to do with airports; then you realize it was probably meant to be ‘runaway,’ as in fugitive.

Anyway, whatever it is called, the film goes nowhere. It is obviously meant to be a showreel for Amarjeet (whose family seems to have produced the film), so within a few minutes, he has strutted about bare-chested, had a song, a fight scene, a shower scene and so on..

The plot, such as it is, is about Allan (Amarjeet), who takes in a contract killing job to save his girlfriend (Deepal Shaw) dying (in full bridal regalia) of a drug-induced illness. He does the job of shooting a “Mister Victor,” and then finds that a killer (Lucky Ali) keeps shooting at him.

There he is, on the run from cops and killer, with just a night-club dancer Shaina (Tulip Joshi) to help him. It doesn’t make much sense, this running all around over Mauritius (where the club dancer sings some Chhapra ka paani kind of number!), and never figuring quite who is doing what and why.

Amarjeet looks like a cross between Emran Hashmi and Harman Baweja and displays no exceptional acting skills. No help from the rest of cast either.


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