New York is an intimate look at the inter relationship between 3 friends, and how a post 9/11 world changes their view on life. Director Kabir Khan, sets up the story at a fast pace even as he deftly intercuts between, the present and Neilâ€™s flasbacks in an interrogation by FBI agent, Irfan.
The story starts with the arrival of a newbie Neil at NYU. John and Katrina play his classmates and while, John is the almost American campus hero, Katrina plays Johnâ€™s friend, who secretly loves him - and Neil plays the wide eyed, innocent, scholarship winning boy from Delhi, who mistakes Katrinaâ€™s friendship for love.
After abruptly parting ways, Neil is forced to enter back into the lives of the now married John and Kat. Irfan, the FBI agent manipulates Neil into spying on John, as he is suspected of being a terrorist. Much of the second half is spent on the inter-relationship between Neil, John and Kat, and a back story to explain Johnâ€™s motivation. While this does slacken the pace - this is essentially what the movie is about. Even though the movies title â€œNew Yorkâ€, hints towards a large canvas - the movie is essentially about the interplay between these lead characters. Apart from one pre-interval dramatic â€˜revealâ€™ - New York, by and large, keeps it straight and restrains itself away from melodrama. While this works at some level, a rather straight climax, and the slack pace in the second half - do subtract from the movieâ€™s overall impact.
Coming to specifics, Kabir Khanâ€™s second outing after Kabul Express does not dissapoint, and in fact showcases his growing competence as a director. In the pre-interval reveal, and the sequence showing Johnâ€™s detention, Kabir is at his best.
All the actorâ€™s have also been forced to emote in a suprisingly large part of the movie in extreme close up - and all of them do a very competent job. But the surprise package definitely is Neil. In all his previous movies, we have seen him playing a young vulnerable guy caught in difficult situations - but here he is called upon to play a wide range of emotions, and he delivers in them all. Look out for his reaction in the scene where Kat reveals her love for John, and you know that Neil will be playing a long innings. John also starts well as the arrogant student, and also does a great job as the vulnerable victim. Katrina endears with her onscreen presence, and also manages the dramatic bits towards the end quite well. Irfan is surprisingly muted as the ruthless FBI agent! That apart, Nawazuddin (whom we had earlier seen in Firaq) delivers a great cameo with just 2 scenes. Particularly commendable is his emotional description of his detention. Heres an actor to watch out for.
On the technical side, the camera work and editing is competent. Pritamâ€™s music works in the movieâ€™s situations, but you will be hard pressed to remember it outside he theatre. Julius Packiams background score however, does underline the movies various high notes.
All in all, New York does a great job of examining a contentious, contemporary issue. It does so without succumbing to melodrama and stays away from any â€˜formulaâ€™. A tighter second half, and a better climax would have made this movie more impactful - but even with these flaws, New York is a must see.