Angels With Dirty Faces, Yet Again !

New York (2009) is a movie that got a lot of critical acclaim. Critics went on heaping praise and praise upon the movie as well as the moviemaking banner (Yash Raj Films). I read a lot of reviews written by the viewers of the movie too who are not critics by profession. There I got a mixed response. Many seemed to be toeing the line of critics, pouring pales and pitchers of admiration upon it whereas others found it to be another thriller having many flaws and loose ends. Since I had seen the movie in the first week of its release and within the first half an hour or so, it was pretty clear before me that New York was nothing but another take on Angels With Dirty Faces (1938), the story of an undercover agent working for the cops and against his old friends. Yet, it was (and still it is) a very big surprise for me that not a single reviewer or another buddy writing upon it could trace the origin of the story to Angels With Dirty Faces which has been remade (copied) n number of times in Bollywood, may it be Droh Kaal (1994) of the art moviemaker, Govind Nihalani or Angaaray (1998) by Mahesh Bhatt or Chhal (2002) by Hansal Mehta or Annarth (2002) by Ravi Dewan or Footpath (2003) by Vikram Bhatt and of course many more. Aditya Chopra has got a lot of admiration from the critics for writing this very good (!) story which is nothing but old wine in new bottle. He has simply shown his smartness by changing the backdrop from underworld to a terrorist outfit that came into existence because of the harassment and humiliation of the innocent Muslims in FBI detention centres post 9/11. He has also added his characteristic romantic angle by showing crush of Neil Nitin Mukesh for Katrina Kaif who went on to become the spouse of his another friend, John Abraham. But these auxiliary things are simply like fancy, colourful packing of an old and outdated consumer product. Other than the main theme of the movie, our great writer has shamelessly stolen sequences from Hollywood movies like Rendition (2007) and Crash (1996) also.As far the direction and treatment of this very very old and very familiar infiltrator story is concerned, Kabir Khan has done a good job in his second directorial venture (his first one – Kabul Express was also praiseworthy) and he is able to keep the viewer focussed by moving the narrative back and forth through flash backs. However he is not able to tie many loose ends and not answered many questions that prop up in the mind of a logically thinking viewer. The biggest flaw in this story woven around the aftermath of 9/11 is that not sufficient sympathy has been generated for the lead character who has been victimized just because of his religious faith. The representative and mouthpiece of the establishment, Irrfan very conveniently justifies not only the inhuman torture and humiliation of innocent John but also his killing in the climax which could have been avoided. Even he has no repentance for the killing of totally innocent Katrina. Can the fact of John’s son captaining the Football team of the school shown and unduly emphasized by Irrfan in the concluding scene of the movie, make up for the inhuman treatment of John and several other innocents in Guantanamo Bay ? And when the establishment is justifying its wrongdoings instead of admitting them, where is the scope for any corrective action in future? The intellectual story writer has shown FBI HQ in New York whereas it is actually situated in Washington D.C. This is an illustration of treating Indian audience as ignorant and fool by our superfine moviemakers.The pace of the narrative is good in parts only and the editor has not done his job satisfactorily. Art direction, cinematography and music are alright. The complete cast has done well. Special mention is deserved by Nawazuddin Siddiqui for his outstanding cameo and the leading lady, Katrina Kaif. This gorgeous lady is proving film-by-film that she is not just eye-candy and can act too.

Summing up, this another version of AWDF is a nice timepass. It does not deserve any more accolades.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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