On April 28, New York officially opened in Egypt with five prints. Box office figures have yet to trickle in, but the fact that pirated DVDs were flying off the shelves last year, prompted Yash Raj Films to take the film to this hereto unexplored market, following in the footsteps of Shah Rukh Khan’s My Name Is Khan (2010).
Earlier in 2009, the John Abraham-Katrina Kaif-Neil Mukesh terrorist drama played out in the Big Apple, had been invited to open the Cairo Film Festival. “It was the first released film to be accorded the honour. The overwhelming response to it at the screening took me by surprise,” admits director Kabir Khan. “People were crying openly and it was obvious that my film had struck a chord with the Arabs who are the biggest victims of illegal detention in the West.”
Khan goes on to add that perhaps one reason for its appeal there, is that it’s one of those rare films that views terrorism from a non-American perspective. “I was told that it was the first film on 9/11 that did not wear religion on its sleeve. There are no shots of the namaz (prayer) and not once is the word Allah uttered,” he points out. Khan’s directorial debut, Kabul Express, went on the rounds of the festival circuit before its theatrical release. New York, on the other hand, went to festivals, post release. Khan has just returned from Poland where the film was screened recently and says that viewers there were elated to discover a commercial Hindi film playing out against a very real political context that had grabbed headlines the world over, following the 9/11 terror attacks. “For them this is new Bollywood,” he exults.
He asserts that whether it’s 9/11 in New York or 26/11 in Mumbai, whether it’s Ajmal Kasab or Faisal Shahzad, the fact remains that terrorism today isn’t limited to any one city, country or continent. “It’s part of a larger phenomenon that affects all of us and changes the way we look at each other and the world. And the faster we realise this, the better it would be for all of us,” he maintains.