by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The die is cast early in My Name Is Khan, when the titular lead, Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), having already been identified as autistic, is snarkily asked by a TSA agent what he has to tell the President.
“My name is Khan,” he answers. “And I am not a terrorist.” Then the camera zooms in on the baffled agent and the score swells as if to kick him in the throat and yell PWNED!
The punchline is doubly appropriate, given the real-life Khan’s own run-ins with airport security, and a signal that, though it lacks the musical stylings of more familiar Bollywood fare, Rizwan’s story will not skimp on the melodrama on the way to making its point. But at least it does so effectively.
As he learns after moving to America, Rizwan lives with Asperger’s syndrome. Still, during the first half of the movie, Rizwan’s condition makes him a wiz at repairs, and doesn’t deter him from working as a salesman for his brother (Jimmy Shergill) – or from pursuing a relationship with Mandira (Kajol), a hair stylist he meets during his rounds. The early scenes between Rizwan and Mandira are so bubble-gummy they threaten to make Slumdog Millionaire look cynical, but there’s enough of a contrast between theirs and other rom-com couples to keep the schmaltz from completely overwhelming the viewer.