Saw the movie “New York” last evening. Ages since I last entered a theatre. Seema seems to remember it was in December last year. There was a time when going to the cinema was a magical experience for me. The smell of popcorn, the dark mysterious theatre, the images coming to life on a grand scale, the thundering voices you listened to as you sat cocooned in your own private dark space…..
Now it’s much more mundane. I’d probably enjoy a movie watching it alone in my home than in a public place with hundreds of other people, sneezing, coughing, talking, laughing, whispering, using the cell phone, trying to silence their mewling, puking children. Why should you pay for this aggravation?
Well, all said and done, it wasn’t all bad. It was nice to get out of the house and the film was good too. Nice story, taut for the most part, good production values, and mostly coherent from start to finish. Neil Nitin Mukesh impressed me with his performance. He’s only done a few films till date, but he showed a lot of promise. Few actors can express with both their face and their voice. At least in Bollywood, it is seldom seen. He’s the central character in the film and carries it off well. He should go places, I feel. The story centres around the treatment meted out to muslims in the US post 9-11. How John is picked up on some flimsy “evidence” and tortured for 9 months. He turns to terror to get back at the FBI. Irfan, as an FBI agent, ropes in Neil by blackmailing him into reconnecting with his old friend (John) and infiltrating his terrorist sleeper cell. They were college buddies and in love with Katrina who’s married to John and with a kid now. The story builds up to a nice climax, though it leaves you feeling somewhat empty, as if something else could have happened, though not so much. Editing is top notch for the most part, and I didn’t feel that I’d been sitting there for almost 3 hours (it’s a long one). Cinematography is good too and the music ain’t bad either. Especially liked the ghazal, though I don’t remember it now. But there are a few faults too. The opening sequence could have been much tighter. It didn’t create enough tension. The scene before the intermission where Omar (Neil) shoots a guy was unnecessary long. It’s almost as if the director felt that he had to do something Indian in the movie! So it drags on for a few seconds longer than it should have. And in the end we’re not clear why Neil gets custody of John’s son. Why not either John or Katrina’s parents? But these few faults can be ignored in the face of a Bollywood movie with almost Hollywood like production qualities (finally!).
The director doesn’t let the movie slacken a bit and never loses the plot. There are no maudlin scenes, no hyper emotional drama, and no theatrics. I’ve already mentioned Neil’s talents and Irfan Khan does his job as he always does, deadpan and right on the button. Even John and Katrina surprised me. I mean, they’re not exactly mind-blowing, but they do go a notch or two above their usual work. I always thought Katrina was just a pretty face (and body), but she’s not that bad as an actress either. Of course as an NRI she was in her element, but still she exceeded my expectations. John is too stony to portray real emotions but his honesty shows through, particularly in the first part.
The film is definitely a must-watch and I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something beyond the mind numbing “comedies” and “dramas” B’bay churns out by the dozen.