Review - New York: YRFication of engaging debate

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

Audience is sensitized to the circumstances that create a terrorist. But, it is padded with fluff that is typical of Hindi cinema - songs, colors & happy faces. And this fluff is more in the narration rather than the basic plot itself. That with the predictable dialogues and turn of events makes this a little less watchable than it could have been. All set right in the second half though.

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Wogma Review

A man is found stealing a mango.
Situation 1: He's chased and beaten to pulp and thrown into jail.
Situation 2: The chasers realize that he's not eaten anything in 5 days and that's why he's stealing. You beat him on the way to jail.
Situation 3: The chasers realize that he was stealing it for his children and wife. They haven't eaten in 5 days. You give him a warning and let him go.
Situation 4: The chasers realize that he is stealing for his family because he has been duped by a loan-shark. You might actually go with him to beat up the loanshark.

Suppose the mango was not stolen. But it was a couple of buildings in downtown Manhattan that he conspired to blow up and did so successfully. Not pardonable, right? Even if it is similar to situation 4. But, of course.

Suppose he was not he, he was you? Now, what do you do?

This is the debate New York struggles with. It doesn't offer solutions or show one right path - that is the script's beauty. For, there ain't a straightforward answer to this dilemma. Yeah, there's loads of stereotyping - whites are painted the darkest hue of black. What if the whites were not the whites, they were you? After all the insanity and inhumanity of racial profiling is prevalent just about everywhere. That's exactly what the security guards at every building gate are doing. That's exactly what the barricades in the middle of city roads are for.

All good, message nice. Arguments on both sides convincing thus engaging. But, and here's the biggest BUT of all...why over-dramatize it? It's Aditya Chopra, so we know there's going to be drama. The 'over' is overtly annoying and doesn't provide much relief until the interval. It actually reminded of the days of VCRs when my mom would forward through half a Hindi film.

The background music is too on-the-ear except for a place or two where it's really well done. The close-ups are beautiful but at places which need ruggedness not beauty. The slo-mo's are arrrrrgggh!...yep...frustratingly irritating. Disturbing the flow, distracting from the plot and all that jazz! And this happens all the time, not just at key plot points. The one much talked about intense scene is completely spoilt by the camera gimmickry. Whatever catches the director's or producer's fancy, found place in the film, thus making it a much longer film than necessary. It didn't look like a Kabir Khan film at all. Did the producer do as much directing as producing?

Thankfully the producer, who's also the writer, also did a fair job of writing the overall plot. And this in comparison to reasonably well-received films like Black Friday and Fanaa, both of which had similar elements. And both of which I didn't really like.

The point is the struggle and the frustration of the people who are discriminated against. And that is made well enough for us to be curious about what's up next, despite the gaps. What scheme? What plan? Why is such a small gang under FBI's radar? The writer couldn't be bothered with those details. And when some of the more minute details are given you wish they weren't because you could've predicted them 30 seconds ago. There surely must be other ways to create suspense than to give it extra brooding time and kill it. Same goes for the (lack of) punch in the one-liners. But most of this is restricted to the first half. The second half becomes heavy and gripping.

Inspite of the glaring NO-NOs, there's quite a bit to cherish. The performances were brilliant. Now who would've thought this space would have said that about Katrina Kaif and John Abraham? Okay it's only relative, they are brilliant compared to their earlier non-performances. Katrina Kaif, as expected from an Aditya Chopra story, has a strong role in support. She not only looks her usual pretty self, but this time around, she makes you feel for her and her accent doesn't bother as much. John Abraham can actually convey his character's emotions if he's shown how and New York shows how. It's unfair that not much can be said about actors like Irrfan Khan other than "his usual best". The penalty one has to pay for being talented. Neil Nitin Mukesh is good but looks like he's capable of much more, just needs to find more variety.

So, what is it that can't keep the bling out of a YR film? When will the constant, visible struggle between supposed "mass pleasing" and need and mood of the story get over? They are edging to make films that make a difference. They have made some moves in this film that won't be very popular. Then why not go the whole 9 yards? Or are they taking one baby step at a time...pushing the envelope? I hope so.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A lot of torture to detainees shown and verbally expressed.
  • Language: A few swear words expressed in third person, while one character is narrating incidents to another.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Again in the form of torture to suspected terrorists. Overall not material that can be digested by under 12-13s, I think.
  • Concept: The effect of racial profiling in the lives of the common, innocent man.
  • General Look and Feel: There's an attempt to keep it peppy and light.

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New York - Movie Details

New York - Trailer

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