My Name Is Khan is a big Bollywood production that’s trying to leverage Indians’ anxiety and religious sentiments to get attention and ticket sales. The movie, which comes out today, features Indian megastar Shah Rukh Khan as Rizwan Khan, a Muslim with Asperger syndrome. Some of the challenges he faces are related to his being Muslim, especially post-9/11, when Khan is living in the U.S. In fact, one of the lines heavily used in the movie’s promotion is “I am Rizwan Khan, and I’m not a terrorist.”
Islam and terrorism is a subject that dominates the news as well as the hearts of every Indian. And most of us believe that the entire community cannot be damned by a few evil men who are trying to destroy humanity. So seeing the film’s protagonist being discriminated against is something we can’t stand—we want to see him succeed in his fight to get justice. The movie is a great example of leveraging our emotions on this sensitive issue.