Bollywood Revisits 9-11
By Kanika Parab
Filmmakers all over the world from Pakistan to Kosovo have captured New York's 9/11 terror attack on celluloid. And now, almost a decade after the tragedy, it is India's turn. Kabir Khan's 'New York', the first major Indian film on 9/11, released nationwide this weekend.
Starring the Indian film industry's biggest stars like John Abraham, Katrina Kaif and Neil Nitin Mukesh, the movie is set in New York City and explores the different aspects of racial profiling. The narrative arches over nine years and follows three young Indians, whose lives, like those of so many others, were profoundly changed after the attack.
9/11 may have taken place in distant New York, but the attack affected India too, "the consequences of which we are still facing," director Kabir Khan told the Indian press. Reports reveal that 117 people of Indian origin lost their lives to the attack, of which 17 were Indian passport holders. "We can all say that 9/11 happened in America. But I disagree. I think 9/11 has changed the whole world and if we Indians think that it did not affect us, we are being a bit naïve and insular," Mr Khan said.
As with New York, this filmmaker has dealt with thorny issues in the past; his last movie, 'Kabul Express', incorporated his experiences from Afghanistan, where he lived after the American invasion in 2002. While planning his American schedule for 'New York', the director says that he "didn't get a visa for two months because of [his] name." However, he maintains that once he got to the Big Apple, it was a very special experience. "The last day of our shoot was the final day of George W Bush's presidency...the very next day Barack Obama took charge," he explained to a reporter here.
Many other members of the 'New York' cast and crew also brought their personal experiences into the movie. Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh, for example, has spoken about being subjected to racism while travelling to New York to shoot for the film. He was stopped at immigration, and was allowed to proceed only after he convinced the officer to Google search his name.
New York was slated for a May 2009 release, but was pushed back because of the extended producer vs multiplex strike in Bollywood. Although unplanned, this delay may prove to be opportune; with racist attacks on Indian students in Australia fresh in the national consciousness, the film seems to have resonated particularly well with Indian audiences. Receiving rave reviews from both, critics and audiences, the film was the highest grosser this weekend, and will most likely be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year.
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