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I will be comparing My Name is Khan and Mother India, which so happen to be in the top three of my favorite movies that we have watched in class this semester. I chose to compare these two films mainly because they are both in a way politically or nationally motivated, were two of the most expensive films of that year or their respective time, are based upon honor of their religions and homes from the lead characters, and are both two of the most successful films of their respective years and two of the most popular of all time.
My Name is Khan and Mother India were both the most expensive films of their time. My Name is Khan film rights were bought for 15 million from FOX Star Entertainment, therefore, was the most expensive Bollywood film of 2010. Mother India was the most expensive film production of that time (late 1950’s) approximately $775,000 as it was in color when most movies were still black and white and due to the extensive outdoor scenes, such as, the many scenes that include intense flooding and the massive fire scene towards the end of the film. However, My Name is Khan was a huge success overseas in the United States “this high-budget film was a blockbuster both in India and abroad and, at the time, was the largest grossing Indian film in overseas markets” (1).
My Name is Khan and Mother India are both films that have strong national ties, are somewhat politically based, and show signs of great honor and perseverance from the lead characters for the home and religions. In My Name is Khan the lead actor, Khan, wants to tell President Barack Obama “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist” because his stepson (Sameer) got murdered due to being of Middle Eastern decent and the films setting was based before, during, and post-9/11 where many Americans became violent and aggressive towards Middle Eastern people, even though Sameer and his mom, Mandira, are not Muslim. This film got a lot of press before premiering due to its many political controversies throughout the film. Since 9/11 terrorism has become a popular topic in movies, “The popularity of the subject of terrorism in the Hollywood cultural machine in recent years suggests that we have entered a new phase in the ongoing drama of the nation” (222). In Mother India Radha has pride for herself and her village. She gives Birju so many chances but in the end she does not want to lose anymore of her honor and kills her son for the safety of the girl he kidnapped and herself. It also shows how lousy the bank system is where they live due to them taking out a loan and being in debt to it their whole life to the man that they got a loan from.
The filmmaking techniques are similar in both films because they do a lot of face close ups and scenes that speed forward showing various characters and movements. They happen to both be in color even though it was not very common in the 1950’s to have a full color film like in Mother India. Since they are big budget films they have very good production and shooting quality.
These two films have very great reviews from critics and non-critics and are on lists of the highest grossing films. Mother India especially has acclaim because it was nominated for Best foreign language film in the 1958 Academy Awards, ranks among Indian all-time best lists, won the Filmfare Best Film Awards in 1957, and lead actress Nargis and director Mehboob Khan won awards, amongst others. It was such a high profile film that the President and Prime Minister attended the film screening in New Delhi. Mother India is even named as one of the best films in the world, “Mother India, in fact, has had considerable acclaim from western audiences over the years-probably more than any other mainstream Indian film” (11).
The male and female lead actor and actress also have a history together for both films outside of Mother India and My Name is Khan. Nargis was in a relationship at the time of filming but ended it due to him not wanting to leave his wife. Nargis met Sunlit Dutt on set of Mother India because Dutt played her rebellious son Birju. He saved her, on set, from the big fire scene toward the end of the film and they fell in love. They married five months after the film premiered in 1958 and were together until her death from pancreatic cancer in 1981. Shah Rukh Khan played Rizwan Khan and Kajol played Mandira, Khan’s on screen wife in My Name is Khan. In Hindi cinema they were known as the “Golden Pair” and this was the first film they reunited to play an on screen couple since 2001’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Shah Rukh Khan is known as the “King of Bollywood” and this is one of many films together for these two. However, My Name is Khan was majorly in English and Hindi while Mother India was completely in Hindi.
These two films have similarities but many differences. Both deal with characters that will do anything for their loved ones and family, even if in the process it may hurt them. Mother India is based around a female lead and in My name is Khan is based around a male lead. In both movies the lead characters lose a very important person, or in Mother India’s case she loses a husband and has to kill a loved one, in their lives but still move on with their lives because it is what is best. The movies both end in the way they are supposed to with Khan fulfilling his goal of meeting President Barack Obama and getting back together with Mandira and with Radha still having her honor after doing what is very hard for her but is best for the village.
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