'New York' revolves around three friends whose lives are deeply impacted by the fallout of 9/11. Samir aka Sam (John Abraham), Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and Maya (Katrina Kaif), all students at New York State University, fully enjoy campus life. Omar, a first-time foreign student, fast befriends Sam and Maya to eventually develop a love for America, and adapt to the American lifestyle.
The film opens nearly 7 years after the tragic events of 9/11 with Omar being detained and interrogated by FBI agent Roshan (Irrfan Khan), who forcefully hires Omar as an undercover agent ordering him to infiltrate the life of his college friend Sam; who the FBI suspects to be a terrorist. Omar complies with Roshan’s orders under the condition that the FBI won’t kill Sam if he surrenders. When the friends reunite, Omar learns that Sam and Maya are happily married with a daughter. Once Omar enters Sam’s home, he has many failed attempts at unveiling his activist identity. Sam in turn narrates his dreadful past to Omar of how he was illegally held captive, tortured by the FBI for 9 months and brutally victimized for being a Muslim suspect of terrorism after 9/11. What truth Omar uncovers and where it takes their friendship forms the remainder of the film.
John Abraham as Samir AKA Sam - popularly known as the ‘star of the campus,’ is an athletic, handsome and intelligent student who is victimized for being a Muslim in New York.
Katrina Kaif as Maya - a high-spirited Indian girl born and raised in New York who brings joy to her campus. She is Sam’s love interest and acts as his biggest support through trying times.
Neil Nitin Mukesh as Omar - a middle-class Indian guy from Lajpat Nagar, Delhi who earns a scholarship to study at New York State University but is later trapped by the FBI as an undercover agent.
Irrfan Khan as Roshan - an FBI investigating agent whose pro-American attitude is what makes him work hard to protect the freedom rights of all Americans.
Director: Kabir Khan
Producer: Aditya Chopra
Production House: Yash Raj Studios
Distributor: Yash Raj Films
Music Label: Yash Raj Films (YRF Music)
Screenplay: Sandeep Srivastava
Story: Aditya Chopra
Cinematography: Aseem Mishra
Music Director: Pritam Chakraborty
Lyricist: Sandeep Srivastava, Junaid Wasi
Pritam scores yet again with another refreshing soundtrack. ‘Hai Junoon’ is a sure fire hit that will stick with audiences forever. ‘Mere Sang’ and ‘Tune Jo Na Kaha’ also stand out but tend to grow on viewers gradually. The songs have been shot brilliantly – the remix of ‘Hai Junoon’ has been choreographed quite well by Ahmed Khan. Overall, the songs fit the film’s contemporary backdrop.
Undoubtedly, the hero of the script is the screenplay. The film has an intriguing opening and has the power to fully grip the viewer through a series of events involving the FBI. The round up of the suspects strikes the viewer and is superbly executed. With such a sensitive subject, where one of the protagonists is labeled as a terrorist and the other struggling to prove that he isn’t, the film could have easily fallen through the cracks. However, Kabir Khan proves that he can tackle just about any genre to create enough drama, thrill, and emotional moments to keep audiences at the edge of their seats.
The climax scenes in the detention center gives off a chilling affect. Though disturbing, the scenes of John being tortured captures the true essence of the film.
The performances by John, Katrina and Neil definitely raise the bar of Indian cinema. Especially John, who is often termed as an expressionless actor, has worked every muscle on his face to get the act right and deliver his career’s best performance thus far. Katrina also proves her potential as an actress, and her simple, deglamorized avatar that she portrays truly let’s her acting abilities triumph.
While the film excels in many areas, it falters in the second half as the pace slows down and the story at times becomes predictable. There are also a few sequences which could have been edited to some extent. The film could also have done without the love triangle to truly stand out as an unconventional Bollywood film.
Slated or Rated:
Although Kabir Khan’s subject seems to be washed out, he definitely strikes a chord with audiences with his gripping thriller. Kabir has delivered an unconventional film but still manages to keep it commercially relevant. It is by far one of the finest production’s to come out of the Yash Raj camp and will definitely rule at the box office! If you feel like going for a roller coaster ride, go see New York!