“New York, New York. A city so nice, they named it twice.” And obviously director Kabir Khan loved the city so much that he decided to name his second venture (following Kabul Express) after the city that never sleeps. The plot uses 9/11 as a backdrop and deals with the aftermath of the situation that affected people of the Islamic faith. John Abraham, Katrina Kaif and Neil Nitin Mukesh all play central characters in the film which depicts a close friendship which goes sour after the fated September day in 2001. Kabir Khan is known for his eccentric storytelling ways as well as his realistic scripts and if you thought Kabul Express was gripping, New York claims to be spellbinding and captivating. Promising fabulous performances and sensitive execution, stand by to see if Kabir Khan lives up to his bona fide ways or will this one be gone in a New York minute?
Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is a young Delhi boy enters New York State University ready to face the New World and in the meantime work towards a Masters Degree. He meets Maya (Katrina Kaif) his student counselor and friend for whom he later develops tender feelings. However, Maya is already in love with the college hunk and show off Sam a.k.a Sameer (John Abraham). A deep friendship develops between the three and it is only later that Omar realizes that Maya and Sam are in love with one another. He is naturally distraught but decides to move on and leave his friendship behind. It is on the day of 9/11 that he last sees his friends. Seven years later, he is forced into a situation that compels him to revisit his friends. He quickly learns that his friends have changed and because of him, will further alter their lives forever.
Kabir Khan is top notch. The director has taken a sensitive issue which deals with prejudice, stereotypes and the manner in which suspicious eyes looks at South Asians post 9/11. The script has been executed beautifully. While the story may seem somewhat American because it deals with an American tragedy, it is very easy to see the connection it shares with India and even Bollywood. The strength of the film lies in the fabulous canvas and backdrop of New York that Khan has worked into the script so uniquely that it becomes a character in the film. The introduction of the film looks like it is straight out of Hollywood and slowly meanders into its Bollywood ways. Courtesy of Khan’s obvious and keen eye for detail, the film has some striking scenes and dialogues that will linger in your mind even while the credits roll.
In terms of performances, Neil Nitin Mukesh steals the show. Mukesh has literally gotten into the skin of Omar and given, without doubt, an award winning performance. So veteran is his performance, it is impossible to believe that it is his only his third film and is definitely a million times better than his role in Aa Dekhen Zara. His expressions are not only genuinely believable but priceless and real. Neil has dropped his guard and bared his soul for this one—impressive; a real winner. John Abraham too has gone on to re-enact the role of Sam, the good boy gone back for a reason with great poise. Over time the Abraham has not only improved in his acting skills but his choice of roles too; his performance in New York demonstrates just that. A correct and wise selection made by both actor and director. In the more sensitive scenes, especially those where he is detained and tortured, you authentically believe his tears are real and feel his pain. Another power-packed performance in the film. Katrina Kaif is a surprise. The actress has come out to play a strong role which is a complete change from her usual hoopla. Her transition from the strong young college girl to the emotional wife and mother is worthy of mention. For a change, her performance lingers in your mind. She should continue to play such intelligent roles. A shiner. Irrfan Khan is typically apt and his camaraderie with Neil adds some lighter moments towards the second half of the film.
The strength of the film is the chemistry between the actors. My personal favorite part of the film includes the dialogues which vary from funny to intense. Not only are they thought provoking but are extremely well-penned. The drawbacks of the film are few and only evident because of its quantity. The second half drags and drabs but manages to pick up just before the climax which might I add is mind-blowingly gripping.
If I had to give you three reasons to watch New York, they would include the following: Firstly because it is a tale of friends who deal with modern day racism in perhaps its worst form. Secondly, because the performances are absorbing. And lastly because you need to. It is very rare that Bollywood juts out a movie which talks about real problems, real issues and real situations. But when they do, they do it with great