‘New York’ And Kashmir (Movie Review)

The movie enjoys some stark parallels with Kashmir and the situation we faced in early 90s

Watching movies and visiting restaurants was taboo some three decades earlier in our comparatively conservative society of Kashmir. My father was a moderate and would very rarely discourage visiting movies. His practical approach towards life was a guiding force in isolating evil and appreciating values and virtues. So I was a movie lover from the day one, I landed in my teens. Earlier I had no special taste for any particular section of cinema but with the passage of time, art and revolutionary cinema particularly with characters of angry young men fascinated me and created a niche within the boundaries of my psyche. Turmoil within the valley had taken toll of every aspect and cinema was no difference.

Recently my children made me to watch ‘New York’ a film by Kabir Khan. ‘New York’ is a usual Bollywood adventure, but with a difference in message and matter. After more than two decades this was the only movie which I willingly watched from its romantic start (with many stages of climax in-between) up to its anticlimax end. The character of Sameer played by John Abraham is what we see in every town and village of Kashmir or for that matter in Naxal infested areas of rest of the country. Humiliated young angry man out to settle his scores with his tormentors and exploiters; seeking revenge for disgrace, abuse and injury inflicted on him. While watching ‘New York’ I had a sense of being part of the movie and as if the whole drama was being enacted in my neighborhood. It reminded me of Kashmir in nineties when even moderate people like me were subjected to insults and humiliations at many occasions only for the reason that I was at the wrong place at wrong time and for my religious belief. No doubt situation is comparatively better now. Character of Omar Sheikh, friend turned undercover FBI agent (not by choice but by compulsion) in the movie is like Kashmir’s mukhbir (informer) but with a difference. He is there to be an informer best of the society and mankind and to get back his friend from frenzy of vengeance, not informers of our place who in the first instance bluffed their masters to settle their scores and grab wealth, land and women.

In the film, scenes of caging people reminds of Nazi days; chaining detainees like dogs nicely depicts the atrocities in Abu Garib prison in Iraq, and other inhuman dealings filmed with professional precision remind of Guantanamo Bay, the infamous U.S run detention camp in Cuba and other makeshift prisons of Afghanistan and Iraq. The well filmed procedures of state violence during detention ring a bells in every ones mind and heart who were victims of such atrocities in any part of the world and almost instigates every victim to fight against the injustice under the banner of ‘best brown bread’, code word for group of confrontationists in the movie. Here again every Kashmiri or people like Kashmiris exploited and suppressed in other parts of the whole world will feel related with the characters of the movie. While watching the movie very punch and yell faced by the victims would send a shiver through my whole body and reminded me of thousands of such soles in the sub-continent who suffer at the hands of their tormentors and suppressors. But, the second section of the movie, very finely motivates you to distance from any violence of revenge. This marvellous transition of extreme passion and conviction for revenge to tolerance and compassion is the essence of this marvellous piece of picture, a hybridized version of commercial and art cinema.

Technicalities and other parameter of the movie are same as any other Bollywood commercial film but the message conveyed by the director is different and has hit the bull’s-eye. The cast of the movie other than Niel Nitin Mukesh ( as Omar) is out of situation , but for keeping the not so conservative religious image of the characters , the cast of John Abraham and Katrina Kaif as Sameer and Maya can be compromised. The role of Irfan Khan (Roshan) as FBI sleuth is extraordinary. He has put life in his unique character with his amazing dialogue delivery. Only stage where the film maker has compromised with the subject is the end part of his movie. Insertion of anticlimax outlook after the tremendous climax at the final stage of the movie does not blend and go with the traditional Indian cinema, cinema with a unique standing, norms and class of its own. Kabir Khan, the director of the movie is at his best when he communicates through his movie that it is not only radical religious zealots who feel humiliated and down by injustice and dishonor but even characters like Omar Sheikh with modern and little religious outlook get motivated for revenge. This revenge bursts out of humiliation and not owing to any affiliation to a particular sect or faith. These reels of real life are touching and have been visualized and dramatized in an amazing manner. Movie ‘New York’ is an eye opener for both suppressers and the suppressed; a guiding force to find a way out for harmonious co-habitation of people of all colours and belief.

‘New York’ has struck the right cord in the present context of universally surcharged atmosphere, conveying strong and significant telepathic messages both for the states (intoxicated with power and glamour of materialism) and common men of all shades, cast, creed and above all every section of religious factions plagued with severe  religiosity. The movie has a loud and clear message for world powers that after facing severe bouts of defeat owing to their arrogant behavior and mentality of bullying, they let loose a reign of state terror on innocent souls with minutest possible resemblance and remotest possible link with the origin or cause of defeat. Failure of policies, trust and system of governance along with the faulty security and protection mechanism culminate into situations which demand and necessitates introspection and behavior like a disciplined state. Unfortunately, to cover up their inefficiencies, certain vested interests within the system resort to dogmatic and discriminatory approach of victimization of a particular section of the society with least possible affiliation (except some common religious belief or colour of the skin ) with the perpetuators of any kind of discord or harm out of vengeance.

Secondly the movie ‘New York’ in the shape of a message, speaks for compassion and concern for every section of mankind irrespective of colour and religious affiliation. It (movie) advocates that, ‘to every action there can be equal and opposite reaction, but not at the cost of human life and dignity’. While conveying this message Kabir Khan has touched new heights of medium of film making and used this powerful mass media instrument to propagate message of compassion and tolerance in a modern and reasonable outlook laced with the sugary coats of entertainment.

‘New York’ is a mast and must movie for every one who is intoxicated with power (both state and individuals) and for all those people, feeling discontented and have ceased to believe in God and resort to all sort of overt and cover means of revenge, but surely and certainly with a provision that tolerance has certain limits as well, governed by natural justice and self-respect.

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