Cast: John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Irrfan Khan
Writer: Aditya ChopraCostume Designer: Rocky S.
Director: Kabir Khan
Producer: Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra
Banner: Yash Raj Films
Singer: Kay Kay, Sunidhi Chauhan, Mohit Chauhan, Pankaj Awasthi
A star-spangled film that starts off well, builds the plot nicely, but goes completely hay wire in the second half, New York is long, tiresome, but well intentioned.
It opens with the distinctly unique skyline of New York, with the twin towers ominously missing. The SWAT team sweats overtime to round off a terror suspect, Omar ( Neil Nitin Mukesh ), who finds himself in the FBI net after arms and ammunition is found from the trunk of a car owned by him. FBI agent Roshan ( Irrfan Khan ) grills Omar and wrings out all info about Sam ( John Abraham ), Omar’s friend, who the FBI agent claims, is running a sleeper terrorist cell that could strike America anytime.
As Omar narrates the story of his friendship and unrequited love with Sam and Maya ( Katrina Kaif ) we are flashbacked to the year 1999 and on to the campus of New York State University where the three friends (studying god knows what!) bond over chess and American football. They seem like the happiest bunch of buddies in the world until the clock ticks to that fateful day, 9/11, 2001, when, just like the twin towers of WTC, their world comes crashing down.
Back to the present, Roshan, the FBI agent, convinces Omar to go back to Sam and Maya – who are now married and have a cute, long-haired kid – and infiltrate Sam’s sleeper cell as an undercover FBI operative.
Omar, who is sure that his friend Sam could never be a terrorist, takes up the offer, not so much to expose Sam’s truth but prove his (Sam’s) innocence. Little did he realize that his buddy Sam or Sameer Sheikh has a past he doesn’t know of!
From then on, director Kabir Khan tries to delineate the insidious process of the making of a terrorist – how a security-obsessed nation, in its bid to prevent terrorism, ends up creating new terrorists. Alongside it unravels the dilemma of Omar who can’t betray his friend but is willy-nilly drawn to prevent him from committing any terrorist act.
It all boils down to a climax so shoddily imagined and executed that you cease to relate to any of the characters. And the end, which should have ideally given you goose bumps only leaves you itching to get out of the theatre, the heat outside notwithstanding.
Irrfan Khan and Neil Nitin Mukesh are the two towers of ‘New York’. Irrfan, despite being given a few preachy sequences (in which he talks about introspection within the Muslim community and also the new America which is more accepting) lives up to his mettle, while Neil holds the film together with an earnest and sincere performance punctuated with flashes of brilliance.
It’s John, all butt and biceps, who’s the weak link. I know girls love him but John fails to internalize his character of a seething, simmering man who’s been done wrong. Katrina Kaif takes a leap from being all beauty and no talent. Now, she can cry convincingly. A special mention must be made of actor Nawazuddin who plays John’s assistant named Zilgai, an emotional wreck haunted by the torture he underwent under police detention.
Its flaws apart, ‘New York’ does have some very nicely executed sequences. One such is when Zilgai is cornered by cops atop the terrace of a high rise and decides to jump to death. In his final moment as he remembers his god, the last thing he sees is a church in a distance. Or that sequence when John goes to the downtown Brooklyn market with a codeword to contact a sleeper cell. The torture sequences (filmed on a nude John) are more shocking because of their content than execution.
The film’s music is pretty good and unlike other Bollywood flicks it doesn’t impede the story’s progression. The cinematography is nice but the director overdoes the slow-motion shots.
Saddled with a plot-holed script and poor performances from half of its starcast, ‘New York’ falls short of expectations. Watch it if you have three hours to kill.