Meredith Brody files from Berlin after watching Karan Johar's My Name is Khan in a theater full of shrieking SRK fans:
It was the right crowd to see the movie with, but not, alas, the right movie. Khan, who famously was recently detained for questioning at Newark Airport because his name turned upon a computer alert list, plays an autistic man. Despite a disclaimer, the performance is awkward and offensive – Khan, a pleasure to watch exposing his chiseled abs and dancing in the rain in Om Shant Om’s delirious “My Heart is Breaking From the Pain of Disco,” largely creates the character by avoiding eye contact, and he isn’t helped by a script that alternates halting speech for him with florid articulation. The film, a rather simplistic piece of kitsch that sends Khan on a years-long mission to tell the President (Bush or Obama) that his name is Khan and he’s not a terrorist, would have elicited boos at Cannes, but Berlin gave it credulous applause, especially after painful sequences set in a Song-of-the-South-worthy black sharecropper-village where Khan is serenaded by “We Shall Overcome” by a church full of characters with names like Funny Hair Joel and Mama Jenny. Khan later returns to single-handedly rescue the inhabitants of Wilhelmina from a hurricane-induced flood. Oy.
The rapturous applause afterwards led Khan to declare “you get unconditional love from your mother and German fans.” I could only agree.