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New York Movie Review

June 28, 2009

Review without spoilers

It’s a thriller and an engaging one. Four characters dominate the movie. There’s Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) playing the new immigrant to the United States and Indian Americans Sameer Shaikh (John Abraham) and Maya (Katrina Kaif) who meet up at New York State University two years before 9/11. Irrfan Khan plays Roshan, an FBI agent. He is the catalyst who sets the story going. This is right at the start of the movie, when he meets up with Omar, seven years after 9/11.

From here on viewers are treated to some flashbacks of university life, all from the viewpoint of Omar. We get to know how Omar, Maya and Sameer meet, the deep friendship that develops between them and why Omar is not in touch with Sameer and Maya anymore. But no, the story does not play out in flashback. The real story is in the present. And before we know it Omar has set out to perform the most dangerous assignment of his life. So this movie is not about college life nor is it really about a love triangle. The subject is a far more serious one…about how terrorism affects the life of innocent people.

Terrible crimes in the name of investigation happened after 9/11, many of them committed by police officers and the American government. If you have heard of the Patriot Act you will know that this Act allows the United States government to detain suspected terrorists without a trial. And if you have heard of Guantanamo Bay which President Obama closed down recently then you know what happened to the detainees there. That they were tortured horribly, for months. It’s difficult for those who go in to lead a normal life again. An actor who plays one such detainee acts brilliantly, although I could not get hold of his name. I shall add it here when I do but it was this man’s acting which stood out.

The director is not judgmental. He simply tells it how it is, and in fact a major character in the movie, Roshan, even explains why such tactics were necessary. At the end of the movie one does get the message that detaining and torturing people is morally wrong, but one also gets the message that this is what happens, and no one can be blamed. Freedom has to be protected, whatever the cost.

The acting was fine, and Katrina was quite good, playing the devoted girl friend, wife and mother. John did his hurly burly act and Neil did his emotional one. Irrfan’s role didn’t call for much except looking stern. He is now playing these sterotypical roles which is sad because this actor is capable of much more.

The movie is entertaining suspense thriller and its best you don’t know how it ends.  There aren’t too many light moments and the background music is good but I found the songs too long and too intrusive. Although no one actually sings them, they seem unnecessary and tagged on.

I liked the cinematography. It was beautiful the way they shot New York. I am not sure if those buildings actually look so beautiful and colourful, the way they do in the shots.

(Photo from

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2009 12:47 pm

    I was waiting for this movie 🙂 sounds promising !!

  2. June 28, 2009 12:56 pm

    After 8 years of 9/11 our mainstream bollywood has been awakened from its cocoon sized world.Congrats to YRC…and kudos to Kabir Khan for bringing movie like Kabul express and Newyork.

    I have seen this movie yesterday only and find it delicately balanced between entertainment and awareness. No great bashing to with clumsy dialouge USA & Jehadist in this movie make it good watch. It reminded me of a good pakistani movie ‘khuda ke liye‘ of similar subject.

    For those who want to know about condition of illegal detainess ,watch multiple prize winner documentary ‘The Road to Guantanamo’.

    For more scrutiny of movie, few scenes were adapted from other movies. Like opening race scene was taken from Oscar winner movie, ‘Chariots of Fire’ and police seacrh of Katrina from ‘Crash’.

    In the end, a fine coming to reality type film from our bollywood…

    yayaver, I hope you don’t mind that I linked my own Khuda ke liye review to the film. 🙂 – Nita

    • June 28, 2009 5:47 pm

      No problem Nita, a more insightful view on topic is better than mere fact collection of wikipedia.

  3. June 28, 2009 1:00 pm

    sorry don’t want to read the review… want to watch the movie first.. 🙂

    • June 28, 2009 3:41 pm

      Nita kept her word. The review is totally spoiler free. You can read it safely.

  4. June 28, 2009 3:41 pm

    The feedback I have received from my friends is also positive. So I am planning to watch it this week. Thanks for the review.

  5. June 28, 2009 4:23 pm

    Well a commercial cinema after many days of I guess I will watch it.

  6. June 28, 2009 4:51 pm

    Dinu, just a commercial flick, nothing more!

    yayaver, I agree that this film creates an awareness of many things, specially for those who do not know how the police treat terrorist suspects and the permanent psychological damage it can have on people.

    oorja, if it is the storyline, I haven’t told the story here. But well, if you don’t want to know anything about it, I know what you mean. I feel like that at times!

    pallab, thanks. 🙂

    Reema, yeah but for me it wasn’t drought totally. Been feasting on western flicks! Though ofcourse nothing like good ole bollywood! 🙂

  7. June 28, 2009 8:08 pm

    Whatever you say for movie. I was disappointed.
    It is totally commercial but end cuold have been much action pack.
    It was only my inclination like immigrants in movie, so called “Dream America!”, that kept me to seat till end.
    Songs are good, but could have been lot better.

    sunny, yeah in the beginning it was a little slow and overall definitely not as action packed as some hollywood movies. – Nita

  8. June 28, 2009 8:36 pm

    This is something I’d like to see, thanks for bringing it to my attention. Hopefully one of the video places with a good foreign film section will get it in.

    I’d consider the buildings beautiful and colorful only in certain light, like at sunset. It’s still strange not seeing them in the city’s horizon.

    I was living about 2 hours away from NYC at the time of 9/11 so this film is pretty close to home. Not as well known or as violent are the behaviors of civilians. A friend’s college class walked out because of her Afghani presence. People were harassed by their peers, stopped patronizing some businesses, etc… Since the Patriot Act started, racial profiling has increased ten fold. Crossing the Can/US border is now a bigger hassle for those whose ethnicity is Hispanic, Indian, or anyone who looks Mid-eastern. Terrorism creates terror…

    Mish, true, Terrorism can become a vicious cycle that someone needs to break! Also ordinary people are harassed. I guess just looking brown means that one is a terror suspect now. I am actually a little apprehensive of traveling to Europe and the US now, for this very reason. I have heard many stories of humiliation. – Nita

    • July 5, 2009 9:36 pm

      The comment that “all Asians look alike” comes to mind. Chances of harassment are slim, but still there. I wish I could say otherwise.

      With North Korea behaving as it is, I can’t help but be a little concerned for myself and other Koreans. The one saving grace for me when crossing into the states is that my non-Korean passport says born in Seoul. I’ve heard the cracks about if I was from the north I wouldn’t be here….nyuck nyuck…not funny.

      Mish, I feel concerned too specially as I am traveling abroad later this year. 😦 I wish I could go to the far east instead but we are going to the west for a particular reason, not just for tourism. – Nita

  9. vasudev permalink
    June 28, 2009 11:45 pm

    nowadays the site photo heading is missing

    vasudev, I have made the caption of the header now. 🙂 – Nita

    • vasudev permalink
      June 29, 2009 11:51 am

      Thnx Nita. Which is the rural location? Seems out of this world. Just wanna check if it is some road down which I have sauntered, years ago…

      • vasudev permalink
        June 29, 2009 11:59 am

        about a decade (or more) ago i had visited some real rural area of thane dt. (forgot the name but it was off dahisar or beyond). there were many tribals there and there was this small christian church (chapel). the tribal woman would walk 10 kms or more to fetch water. that road looked like this one. hence i asked.

        Vasudev, this place is on the way to Jawhar, from Mumbai. You can read the travel post here.

        • vasudev permalink
          June 29, 2009 2:12 pm

          haha! so i am not off the mark despite the time gap. thnx nita. sorry for the diversions…

  10. June 29, 2009 7:14 am

    Nita,good thank you.I prefer your reviews than those of Masand.As soon as I get back to India ,NY will be the first one

    Thank BK. 🙂 – Nita

  11. Vinod permalink
    June 29, 2009 7:24 am

    I recommend the speech given by the defense counsel for the Guantanamo detainees Edward . I can’t remember the last name. He gives the details of the travesty of justice that Guantanamo is an epitomy of. Schizophrenics were not given medical treatment. Evidence procured by torture was allowed in courts and the judge directed the jury that these were evidences ‘procured in circumstances that elicited the truth’. A detainee who had a paranoid fear of insects stinging him was not to be tortured by keeping him in a room with stinging insects but it was permitted to keep him in a room full of non-stinging insects and let his paranoia torture him. Then ofcourse, there was the famous debate on whether waterboarding (look itup in wikipedia) was torture or not.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 29, 2009 8:16 am

      Some highlights –

      (i) The person leading the justice system (Susan Crawford) did not want any of the accused to escape the death penalty. Though she assumed they were tortured (fyi, those who are tortured are not to be prosecuted at all!!) she took the govt’s word that there was other evidence. In one of the federal cases that Susan Crawford was the judge her directions to the jury on the statements of the defendants procured through torture were “Pls approach these statements knowing that they were made in circumstances that were designed to elicit the truth…”.

      So, there’s a new euphemism there for us. ‘Circumstances designed to elicit the truth’.

      What were these circumstances?
      The judge’s summary to the jury says it all – “He was in the company of interrogators for X days for Y hours each day. He was naked in the presence of a woman. His mother and sister were insulted. He was leashed and made to perform a series of dog tricks. He was threatened with military dogs…”

      (ii) There were no death-trained lawyers

      (iii) the statute drafted for this system prevented the use of any established case law principles

      (iv) not only legal, but even medical help that is routinely granted to defendants was refused. One of the Gitmo inmates suffers from schizophrenia and mentally ill people are not to be given the death penalty!!

      (v) There were no translators to Arabic in any of the trials. The defendants had no clue what was going on.

      (vi) the place was understaffed.

      (vii) there was nothing setup to accomodate the jurors.

  12. Vinod permalink
    June 29, 2009 8:14 am

    It’s Edward Macmohan.

  13. June 29, 2009 10:06 am

    i will see it … been a while since i went to a theater 🙂

  14. June 29, 2009 11:19 am

    think I will watch this one (if I find can find someone to drag along 😛 )

  15. June 29, 2009 11:24 am


    As usual, I shall probably watch the film some years hence. On DVD. I have watched a few highly recommended Hindi films lately. Your review only sharpens my curiosity: exactly why songs must feature in films where they have no relevance? They presume the audience to be idiots and detract from the pace of the story. If I were in a cinema hall, I’d probably leave. As it happens, I fast-forward them.

    Relatedly, have you watched Yun Hota To Kya Hota? It is an interesting film I saw in India a few years ago. It has a Sept 11 theme too. As far as I recall there were no songs in the film.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 29, 2009 7:28 pm

      exactly why songs must feature in films where they have no relevance?

      Shefaly, need a clarification – are you asking about the very featuring of songs in movies or featuring where they have no relevance in the movie? In other words, if they featured where they had relevance then would that be ok?

  16. June 29, 2009 5:56 pm

    planning to go 4 newyork on this Saturday with friends.Thanks for the review.

  17. June 30, 2009 12:40 am

    I don’t even know if it is playing nearby. 🙂
    But I liked the promo. Will definitely see it.

  18. July 1, 2009 2:20 pm

    I quite liked ‘New York’. It is definitely Katrina Kaif’s best role up till now.
    I didn’t really buy the arguments that Irrfan Khan’s character put forward, explaining why the FBI detained mere suspects and tortured them for months. There can be no excuse for such gross human rights violations!
    I think the actor you were looking for (John Abraham’s fellow detainee) is Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

  19. July 4, 2009 8:52 pm

    Its a waste movie… horrible….

  20. July 7, 2009 8:02 am

    honestly, i didn’t like the movie. this wasn’t expected from Kabir Khan who made Kabul Express. That movie was better made than New York. New York has a great storyline but suffers terribly from the performances. The director couldn’t extract best from Neil Nitin considering his debut performance in Johnny Gaddaar. I wasn’t impressed by the songs either as they were interrupting the flow of the movie.

  21. openlight permalink
    July 16, 2009 12:19 am

    I have not watched the film and will not.

    Reading the reviews, one thought strikes to mind, the difference in India and USA.

    In USA “Freedom has to be protected, whatever the cost” and it also shows the way to achieve it, but in India we let the the bombers,murderers and muslim extremist off the hook as ‘their’ freedom needs to be protected for votebank politics sake as, they have the first right to be in India as per our remote-controlled PM.

    Duty bound and courageous police officer is killed in encounter in delhi and muslim politician wants inquiry to set in but no word on 2 terrorists who escaped in the militant breeding jamia university.

    Film highlighting such situation will not be made in India or by any director.

  22. Vinit Bhatia permalink
    August 22, 2009 6:10 pm

    Just saw the movie yesterday. It was horrible! Pure propaganda! Most of it was not even true of how the USA treated suspects after 9/11. The depiction of the FBI was a big joke…not even close to reality! Most terrorist suspects after 9/11 were released unharmed and this sort of depiction in the movie simply DID NOT HAPPEN. Many of these interrogation techniques were used against sustpected terroists caught on the battlefields in Iran and AHGHANISTAN, but to depict that this happened in the USA against US ciizens is simply not true. I feel bad for andbody that was propagandized by this so called film. Its sad that movies like these are what “educate” Indians on what is going in the USA in their fight against terrorists.

  23. September 6, 2009 4:52 pm

    I’m going to review this movie myself as I just watched it on DVD. I didn’t like the fact that terrorists here are portrayed as just “misled guys” who took to their violence because of the torture and detention by the American investigation agencies post 9/11.

    I think a more balanced approach would have depicted the leader of the terrorists are ruthless killers manipulating misled youth into committing terrible crimes, not as soppy sentimental husbands who want to keep their “terrible secret” away from their families and loses the will to live soon after it is discovered. Bah…

  24. Amar permalink
    September 13, 2009 2:10 pm

    Just watched it. Waste of time. Bad script, bad acting, bad direction makes for a terrible

  25. September 27, 2009 1:53 pm


  26. October 6, 2009 2:45 am


    I have been reading your blog for sometime now, but have not left a comment until now.

    Sorry to nitpick. You mention “And if you have heard of Guantanamo Bay which President Obama closed down recently….”. Actually, Obama has only signed an order to close down the Guantanamo Bay facility by end of Jan 2010. However, recent reports suggest that deadline is not feasible and may be extended.

    Good review and overall I like your blog and several of your posts.

    Thanks Ravi. Always great to hear from a lurker. Welcome and hope you keep reading. And thanks for the correction on Guantanamo Bay. Looks like Obama is a politician alright! – Nita

  27. sara permalink
    April 17, 2012 9:25 am

    is there any link to watch this online?

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