Shibani Bathija: “My Name is Khan” | Talks at Google


>>Mahim: I’m honored tonight to introduce
Bollywood screenwriter, Shibani Bathija, who’s changing the face of Bollywood cinema one
movie at a time. Before I– [applause] Before I begin, I must say that not even the
threat of a British Airway strike stopped her from being here today. So, when she thought that her flight may get
cancelled, she still did everything she could to be with us. So, that should make us especially
honored. [applause]>>Shibani: It’s great to be here. It really
has been wonderful. Thank you.>>Mahim: Shibani’s success lies in her quest
to tell unconventional stories. And since 2006, everything she’s touched has turned
to gold. Her first screenplay was the blockbuster, “Fanaa,” followed by the super hit film, “Kabhi
Alvida Naa Kenha.” Three of her four films are in the highest list of the top grossing
movies, Bollywood movies, of all time. Her latest film, “My Name is Khan”, reunited
her with director, Karan Johar and actor Shah Rukh Khan, and Kajol; all legends in Bollywood.
We’ll start the Q&A with a few questions from me and we’ll turn the floor to the audience
for questions. Please just raise your hand if you have a question and I will be replaying
the questions for YouTube broadcast. So, as mentioned, this entire event, the Q&A,
will be taped for YouTube broadcast. So, if you have friends and family who you’d like
to share this event with, you can send them the link after it’s online. And with that,
please welcome Shibani Bathija. [applause]>>Shibani: Thank you everyone, it’s been great
to be here.>>Mahim: So, Shibani, your latest film, “My
Name is Khan”, has been embraced by audiences in all parts of the world. It is the highest
grossing Bollywood movie in the Middle East as well as the UK, and the second highest
grossing in the U.S. Many of the circumstances seen in the film have also been seen or portrayed
in real life. What motivated you to write this very timely movie, and why do you think
audiences have reacted so strongly?>>Shibani: Actually, the idea for setting
a story in the post 9/11 world seen through the eyes of Muslim protagonist was Karan’s
idea, the director, Karan Johar. And it, it was something that he wanted to do and he
started off with a slightly different story but we worked together to actually bring it
to what you see today. But really he, he needs to have credit to
have the, to have the foresight and also the, the appetite and the gumption to actually
take on something like this. And I’m very glad that he asked me to, to write it. I’ll
always be grateful to him for that.>>Mahim: Great. So, the original version of
the film, different from the version we saw today, some think depictions that contained
African Americans that were controversial. Some thought the representation inaccurately
portrays present day America. Those scenes have been cut in the international version.
What was your intention when creating these characters, and were you surprised by the
response?>>Shibani: I think that, for me, as a writer,
as talking about it purely from a storytelling point of view, the fact that this man takes
on this sort of quixotic mission of trying to meet The President of the United States
and, and say “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist,” required him to be a certain
way, yes? And also, required him to, in his own way, do something which would bring him
to the attention of the President. Now, if this was an Indian film, perhaps set in India,
usually hunger strikes work, but considering that it was transpiring in the United States,
I really felt that, that something that, he needed to do something that would be that
special, you know? And also, it was really important for him
to do something that united people; that, that brought together people from different
walks of life within the mainstream country in a way that was, that was special and very,
and humanitarian. Hence, the idea of basing it in a somewhat contemporary event, around
Katrina and the fact that it happened in the United States. An event that people all over the world knew
about, an event that would be under-, well understood, even by, even to some degree,
by Indian audiences because the tsunami happened. And so this idea of being trapped in a weather
situation where there’s a lot of devastation all sort of stemmed from that. And that was
really the intention. Statistically speaking, and, and, as research
bears out, on the poorest portion, areas in this country, some of the poorest areas happen
to be in the South, they happen to be rural and they happen to be predominantly African
American. This is not something that, that I came up with or Karan came up with, it was,
it’s there in the, in the statistics. So, that’s how the setting came, came about. So,
I’m actually, since I haven’t talked to every single person that, that has this comment,
my question usually is that, “Are you responding to the visual interpretation of it, or are
you responding to the fact that such a thing could happen, or such, or such placement in
the country is anachronistic or wrong in some way?” Because as far as I could, as far as I understood,
as far as I could, could discover it was very much within the realm of possibility as I
explained. So, but, since there’s such, there was a fair amount of debate over this, the
version that you’ve seen today, the shorter version of the film, has, does not have a
lot of that representation. Does it make the film better, does it, or
does it sta-, or just sort of allow people to not be te-, be just led away by something
that one portion of the greater whole that they, that they don’t, that they didn’t quite
like, I’m, I’m not sure. That really is for audiences to tell. But, there was no intention
either on my part or, certainly not on, on the part of, of the production or, or of Karan
to, in any way, hurt feelings or sensibilities or to, to, to misrepresent anything. Also, there’s a, there’s a cultural; there’s
a cultural lens through how a director from one country, or people from one country, may
see, the, reality of another country, like “Slum Dog”, for instance. It was very well
received, say in the United States, but not so much in India because Indians felt, “That’s
not us,” you know? “That’s not how it is. That’s a stereotype.” So, that happens a lot
as well because it is someone from another culture taking on another situation, and another
country; often there will be that discrepancy. But, really the film is, is about this ,
the core of humanity and this man and his ability to love despite all, and if that’s
what stayed with people and if that’s what they could take home then I, you know, I hope
that our job is done.>>Mahim: Ok. Thank you. So, to switch gears
for a little bit, my next question is about the reaction from American Muslims. So, by
and large, American Muslims have reacted incredibly positively to this film, but there have been
some people unhappy with what they perceive as a good Muslim versus bad Muslim dynamic,
where the protagonist, Rizwan Khan, is the only good Muslim in the film. So, for example, people were upset that when
a mosque was depicted, it was the only time when terrorists, for example, were seen in
the mosque. There were no other representations of a place of worship for Muslims. So, what
are your thoughts when you hear this, this kind of reaction?>>Shibani: I think that’s, that’s perhaps
taking a bit of a narrow view– because the whole principle of the film is
there’s good people and there’s bad people, and there’s good people who do good for others
and bad people who do bad to others and that’s the only difference between them. So, I think
of, of every religion and racial representation that you find in the film, if you take each
scene apart you’ll find good and bad represented on equally on both sides. So, it’s not only that, that Rizwan is good,
his sister-in-law is good, his brother is good, his mother is good, so those are all
the key characters in the film. And they’re all good practicing Muslims. The particular
scene that you talked about was, is, is again, representative of a lot of research and a
lot of discussion with people who said that there are certain places where, that sort
of, harbor, or at least turn a blind eye to activities of, of recruitment, you know? And they very often happen to be in, they
use the place of worship as a refuge and misuse that space of worship because there isn’t
constant monitoring, you see? So, that’s actually what we, what, what was going on rather than
saying its like, “Oh, everybody that goes to a mosque is, is like that.” Because that’s
sort of a narrow view to take, to take of it. Whereas, I mean, and the, the fact of the
matter is that Rizwan prays when it’s his time to pray, no matter where he is. So, a
building actually does not, does not to him represent the best of the religion or the
only way to practice his religion. It is a daily part of life. It’s a, it’s a daily process.
It’s a way of living, which is really key to, to what Islam is anyway.>>Mahim: Ok. Thank you. So, another question
that I had is about your work in the movie industry. So, the movie industry for Bollywood
and Hollywood can be a tough place for females. What has been your experience with this in
Bollywood and have you had to overcome any obstacles while pursuing your career?>>Shibani: I have been very fortunate because
the two houses that I started working with, Yash Raj Film and Dharma Productions, which
is the producers of “My Name is Khan” as well, you know are run by people that, that, who
talent and, and dedication and the work that you put in is, is much more, of much more
importance than gender. And so I, personally, can’t speak for this because I have been fortunate
where it has not been an issue. But I have had other stories from other people
where, where it has been and honestly, this is something that, that’s sort of one battle
at a time. One, one day at a time and one project or contract at a time. The fact remains
that there are many more women actively working in the industry behind the cameras, whether
as directors or as writers now than there was, say, ten years ago. So, that’s actually
a positive sign and, and hopefully a sign of things to come and changes to come.>>Mahim: Ok, so my last question I have before
I open it to the audience was just about your next work and what you are working on next,
so as big fans of your work, we’d love to hear what your latest project is, if you can
talk a little bit about that.>>Shibani: Oh, sure. I’ve, I’ve done actually
a couple of scripts post the completion of writing of, of “My Name is Khan”. One of them
is, is a screwball in the tradition of old Hollywood screwballs, which I absolutely love.
And have not, it’s a genre that hasn’t really been ex-, explored in, in the Hindi context
and so I took a break from, from something intense and, and, and sort of emotional, like
“My Name is Khan”, and I wrote something that was completely mad and fun. And it, it was very therapeutic. So, that’s
one and the other one is, is a sort of youth film, which is sort of, sort of takes a look
at issues of youth in India have with more traditional parents and more traditional expectations
versus the world they live in right now. So, both are very special to me in different ways
and hopefully they will be up and running and be brought to all of you very soon.>>Mahim: Great. So, love to open up the floor
to the audience, just wanted to start with everything with a few question I had. If you
guys had any questions along the line of what I already addressed, or anything Shibani had
specifically mentioned, like I said, just kind of raise your hand and say your question
and I’ll repeat it for our YouTube audience. Don’t be shy. Ok, up in the front. His question was just when, when Shibani was
writing her films, how much of that comes really from her own experiences in her own
life?>>Shibani: To address your question specifically,
the events that transpire and, and have, you know, being sort of, of either Asian descent
or brown skinned, as, as you said and, and what that, and the impact of that. I’ve been
fortunate where, where I haven’t had anything particularly untoward happen to me. I’ve heard
that that often is because it, because women get less of it than men do, in general, which
is the opposite gender bias, I suppose. But I do remember this one time where we were
here researching and we went to a small suburban town, which shall remain unnamed for the larger
part because it, you know it was an interesting experience, and it was, it’s a very homogenous,
very sort of upscale sort of, very pretty town, you know and myself and Karan and, and
the, my co-dialogue writer, Niranjan were just sort of walking around and trying to
see if this was a good place to shoot. And we got these really strange sort of looks
and, and people were not being very friendly, which is odd for Northern California, you
know? And I just wondered, I was like, “Why is this happening?” Because I hadn’t really experienced that in
the time that I studied in, in San Francisco, either. And then, I figured it out. The fact
was, it was, it was a 9/11 anniversary. We happened to be in this town; three obviously
brown skinned people or, or from Asian descent, wandering in, an obviously anonymous, anonymously
in a place where we wouldn’t normally be in the middle of the day. So, what it actually
told me, actually more than the discriminatory side of it, was that how much fear there is,
you know? And there was fear on both sides. I actually had a scene in the film, which
is, is not actually shot or in the film, where it’s a Bart station and there’s a maulana,
there’s a priest, you know from the mosque, mosque who’s wearing tradition outfit and
he’s just approaching this bench to wait for the next train to come and from the other
side there’s, there’s a guy who’s just done with his baseball practics-, practice, you
know? Just coming and he has his bat and so, and
there was this moment where the, where the priest looks at the bat, you know? And he’s
afraid and the man with the bat looks at the priest with his robes and he’s afraid. And
they both walk away from the bench, you know? And that was to me a, a thorough representation
of mutual fear, which I think is, is often at the root of all of these, of all of these
incidences and that particular incidence that happened to us was, if anything, just demonstrative
of that.>>Mahim: Yes, in the back. So the question
is how does your writing process start? Do you have a special muse that you recall from
the heavens of the sky or, and how involved is the director in this process?>>Shibani: It, it all, it depends. You know,
in, it, with this particular film, Karan had an idea of how, what he wanted to do in terms
of where he wanted to set it, and the kind of story that he wanted to tell. But, he was,
he was lovely at once and we sort of agreed that this was going to be the story of the
film, he sort of just let me be, you know? And just let me go and just write the story
in an organic way. And not all directors will do that and not all producers will do that. So, I think it, it, sort of, it’s, it’s very
individual; it depends, you know? I’ve been fortunate again in working, writing scripts
that, that come from my stories, mostly, except for “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna” which was Karan’s
story and it was mostly his, his baby, I just was, was sort of being the, the part-time
nanny along the way. But, so, and so that makes it very organic
and as hokey and hooey and woohoo that this sounds, but I always feel, I almost fe-, you
know, I almost find that the characters talk to me and there are days where they won’t
say anything and those are the days that, that, that there’s writers block. Because
the idea is not to make them say or behave a certain way, but to just let them unfold
and just do what, what they would do by their character. So, that’s really an, an important
part of my writing process.>>Mahim: Yeah, in the front. So, the first
part of that question is why did you choose to end the life of a young child? And why
was protagonist made an autistic character and not someone who doesn’t have an illness?>>Shibani: The thing is that you know very
often, again, back up, part of our research that came up, there was a lot of stuff that
happened in schools, you know? And kids not being, not really being able to filter or
to, or to sort of pretend what sort of perhaps from what they heard from parents or from
other people around them, actually takes things to heart and actually act out a lot more. So, so, the setting of that happening as,
as a very, you know, as, as, as a way that, that fear again can permeate and actually
percolate down to even to schools and to children, was very integral to how important it is to
address the issue and hence, it happens in a school and, of course, even for the story,
for it happening to the child creates the, the larger impact. Where, where an adult could be able to absorb,
take, move on; with a child, it’s a different ball game. And, so that was very important
to the, to the, to the story. And as far as Asperger’s Syndrome, when we
started out with this, and again, this came, this came from research, Karan had met someone
who actually just sort of said he was, he was a Muslim gentleman and he just said, he
said,” You know I’m just sometimes so frustrated. I wish I could just go tell the President
that, look, you know, I’m Muslim and I’m not a terrorist,” you know?
And it was just a random comment that he made and, and so when Karan was telling me about
this, I’m like, “Oh my God. Wow, imagine if someone actually set out to do this, actually
set out to meet the President.” And then he said, then I started working backwards and
I said, “Well, but what kind of a person would this be, right?” And Karan’s like, “Yeah,
what kind of person would this be?” And, so that’s where his Asperger’s came from,
was someone who would take something literally, who would take on a, what was obviously said
in anger from, by his, by his wife, but take it to heart and actually set out on this quixotic
mission, you know? And that’s where the Asperger’s came into play and, but once I got into the
Asperger’s, a lot of that informed Rizwan, the character. So, one thing informed the
other, and then it informed the previous thing. So, it just sort of became this, hopefully,
holistic approach to who he was and why he decides to do what he does.>>Mahim: Yes, question in the back. [audience question inaudible]>>Shibani: Yes, you know sometimes I guess
the only way I have to address that, that question, actually, is to talk about the process
of writing. And often what happens is that, that what
is on paper, is becomes a road map to how things are taken forward. But there are decisions
that are made along the way for whatever reason, you’re enhancing something, or to further
demonstrate, or for passage of time. That may modify what that is, and more often than
not, with skilled people behind, behind the scenes, like Karan and Shah Rukh, and the
whole crew, you know those modifications will really work. For instance, that whole “can we have sex
now” mandala was something they came up with on the set, which was wonderful, you know?
And, it’s, it works beautifully. For most people, they really enjoyed that. And this,
perhaps, was one of the things that didn’t, that was a little anomalous. So, you just
kind of go with that a little bit, you know? Not everything that you see on screen has
actually been what’s on paper. That’s just the, the, it’s the reality of my job and,
and the reality that actually a lot of audiences don’t understand or can’t see; the fact that
the final product is finally a group effort, you know? And, and so that’s what you, you
go with and as a group, you say, “Yes, that may not have been too right.” But, there were
a lot of things that were very right, so hopefully, that balanced it out. [audience question inaudible]>>Shibani: Sorry, which one, which one comes
out in Hindi? [audience question inaudible]>>Shibani: Yes. [audience question inaudible]>>Shibani: You know, there’s a particular
challenge with a film like this, which is, which is you’re, it’s a basically a Hindi
film which has a lot of English, obviously because it’s based in the United States, so
a lot of times there is a doubling. There is an English thing, which either has a voice-over,
which helps with the Hindi, or then has a Hindi sort of echo, almost, you know? So that
audiences get that, which is why the Bobby character spoke in English because he worked
for BBC, an American channel, but the, but the college students get an internship with
ZTV, or whatever, Star TV, whatever that was, which was a Hindi channel. So that, so that
at every point in time, there is both sides represented. But, this is a reality of doing
a Hindi film, which has a lot of English in it. So these, so these are things that one
has to be careful of, just to make sure that as many people in the audience actually understand
the important information that’s given.>>Mahim: So the question was why was Rizwan
typ-, afraid of the color yellow? Is there some significance behind that?>>Shibani: Yes, actually, one of the with
Asperger’s this reac-, this strong reaction to a color could be one of the traits. And
usually the primary colors, so in his case it was yellow. People have often demonstrated
similar, similar reactions to say, red, but it’s, it’s, it’s very often a symptom with
Aspberger’s.>>Mahim: I saw a question from you in the
front.>>Shibani: Yes. [audience question inaudible]>>Mahim: So the question is where is Banville
and is it on Google Maps?>>Shibani: [laughs] Yeah, yes actually, I
had been to Danville and not that, you know, so here’s the thing. Danville, the town in
the film, actually is not so representative of an actual city, and, “Oh, this is what
transpires in this city and this is how these people are,” but more a represen-, it’s more
representative of any small, suburban, homogenous town. And that’s what’s really important,
you know? So, the fact that the, that, the town of Danville, which I actually quite enjoyed,
was sort of stuck with me and I had a friend from there who talked about in her instance,
being gay, and not, and not being very accepted in, in growing up. But, it’s kind of stayed
with me and sort of, it sort of it flowed into something else. But it’s really more
about homogenous town and, and a close knit, small community and a reaction to something,
to something sort of painful in their lives, so.>>Mahim: So the question is once you have
a story, how does it actually transition then on to the final product and how are characters
involved in all of that?>>Shibani: Wow, I wish I could say I cast
this film, I’m just like, pick up the phone and say, “Hey, Shah Rukh, hey Karan, you wanna
do this film?” No, that was not my department, that was very much Karan and I’m glad that
both of them were, were on board. But, the advantage of actually knowing who
your actors are going to be is that you can play to their strengths and you can also work
around some of the things that, that perhaps are expected of them and you want to sort
of break expectations. So, in this case, I mean the fact that, that Shah Rukh has been
so amazingly popular as a romantic hero, the way he looks at the heroine, the way he looks
in her eyes, these are state trademarks. I mean, he should get, he can get a patent
on those, right? I mean, amazing, you know people love him for that. He’s wonderful at
doing it, but it would not have worked as well for Rizwan because if we started seeing
too much of Shahrukh in Rizwan, then the believability of, of his, of his Asperger’s and the process
that he follows, would perhaps have become a little less. So, so I, I, because I knew
it was going to be Shah Rukh, I sort of, the enhancing of the not being able to look in
the eye, him not being able to cry because Shah Rukh’s wonderful tears are also worth
patenting and but it would have again been Shah Rukh Khan. So, there are people with Asperger’s who can
cry, you know, it’s Rizwan who can’t, but the moment you take that away, then not only
does it give him opportunities as an actor to go into places that he doesn’t usually
have the opportunity to, but it also, as an audience, takes away the markers that you’re,
that we started looking for in a Shah Rukh Khan film. So, there was, there was great
opportunity in that and that being said, just seeing the man Rizwan be Shahrukh Kahn on
screen was lovely because they bring such an amazing energy and, and talent to, to making
these characters believable.>>Mahim: Ok, I think I saw a question back
there. So the question was where can you go to see
the lovely view where Mandira proposes to Rizwan?>>Shibani: Actually, that, that spot is Corona
Heights. The view may not be exactly like that and the fog is not that, it doesn’t comply
quite as readily, but yeah, it has that sort of a spectacle to it on the right day. It
will just give you that kind of feeling. So, but yeah, if you climb up there on the top
of Corona Heights, you can get a pretty spectacular view.>>Mahim: Great. And so I think a question
is back there in the very back. So, the question is why the Bay Area for the
film?>>Shibani: So I could get a chance to come
back to San Francisco, which I try to do every given opportunity. [laughter] No, actually, what to me really would appeal
about San Francisco in particular, is the fact that Mandira and Rizwan have a, a very
quirky romance. I mean, it’s not every day that you see, see, sort of a woman having
a romantic relationship with somebody who, you know, she’s not quite ready for and who’s
significantly different. So, their, the flow of their romance was had that sort of quirky,
unpredictable quality which I felt the city really enhanced because it allows that sort
of “Hey, anything can happen here” sort of feel to it. So, I’m, that’s why San Francisco,
besides, of course, my love for it.>>Mahim: Great. I think there’s a question
in the cap. So the question is how did you get started
as a writer and do you want to venture into Hollywood?>>Shibani: I think I was, I was always a writer
in denial. I always loved reading and was very good at English composition growing up.
But, I didn’t quite maybe have faith in myself enough to say, “Wow, can I actually write,
you know?” But, when I was working as a, as an executive in, at Sony Television in India,
I was working with a lot of in, my job involved working with a lot of writers because it was
part of development, content development. And I think that’s when I discovered the frustrated
writer in me because I was always expecting them to do things the way I wanted, the way
I saw them. You know, and then I said, “Oh, that’s so not fair because you just want to
write this, right?” I mean, it’s not about whether what they’re doing is really great
or not. So I decided not to do that and not be an ogre and started writing myself on weekends
and that’s how the first script came about. That was, that script never got made so for
anybody who’s wanting to write either in the audience here or elsewhere, just an attachment
to note, that you always have a great attachment to the first thing you ever write, but you
should start writing it knowing that nothing may ever happen to it; happen off it, you
know? Because, in retrospect, I think it was a beauti-, a fantastic beginning. I couldn’t
have asked for anything better, but it wasn’t the first thing I ever wrote. So, that often
happens and you have to sort of go with the flow as far as that’s concerned. And, I forgot
the second part of your, his question, sorry.>>Mahim: Oh, Hollywood, are you interested
in making films for Hollywood?>>Shibani: Oh, in Hollywood. Yeah, I’m certainly
interested in, in writing in the English language. It is my first language. Now, whether that
would be a Hollywood production per se, or just an international production, or an Indie
film, I don’t know. I mean, probably the latter, you know? But I, because I’ve lived in the
U.S. for as long as I have, because my thinking mind and my, my processes are so geared towards
the English language that, I think that I would be remiss if I didn’t attempt at least
to express that.>>Mahim: Maybe it can be about Google.>>Shibani: Maybe it can be about Google. [laughter]>>Mahim: Great. Yes, you right there. So, the first question was since this was
more internationally distributed, did you have a different audience in mind when you
wrote it and were creating it? And the second question is do you have any more projects
with Karan Johar in the future?>>Shibani: Yes, actually, I did have a different
audience in mind, I mean, it was always going to be a Hindi film so your core audience is
always going to be people that, that understand the language and are familiar with the culture
and with the, with the actors. I mean, that is always where you begin. But,
it was certainly, it was certainly something that because the scope of the story is so
contemporary and yet so universal, we always hoped that it will be something that will
touch people regardless of culture and country, and more on a basis of being part of the human
race. Fortunately it, it, we’ve been very successful
in that and have had some wonderful emails and, and contacts from people from, from many
different parts of the world, like Egypt and Syria and Indonesia and so, and Germany, and
it’s just been, it’s been really gratifying. As far as projects in the future, I, Karan
has to only sort of pick up the phone and say, “I’m doing, I don’t know, a Space Invaders
3,” and I’ll be like, “Ok, when? When do we start?” He’s, he’s very special to me and
has been greatly instrumental in, in what, in doing work that I can believe in, so when,
so whenever he decides that it’s something he wants to do with me, I’m more than happy
to do it.>>Mahim: Great. Yes, right there. So the question is what was it like filming
in San Francisco? A lot of the scenes in the movie have large crowds versus in New York
and India and other places.>>Shibani: I don’t know about the crowd’s
portion of it, but I had a wonderful experience shooting in San Francisco because my job was
done; everyone else was working. But, and it’s always great to be in San Francisco,
but more than that, I think that the people and the city were just, are always very welcoming.
I mean, there’s a very easy, relaxed sort of set up in shooting in San Francisco. Because
there aren’t great, huge crowds and lots of cars and, so just blocking off a portion or
whatever, is not as much of a task as it can be in New York or in Bombay, you know? So,
and then the people are nice. I mean, I don’t know, it’s, it’s gotta do with, with that
cold air that comes off the Bay, I suppose. I, the people are just nice, so it just made,
it made the process for us very, very smooth and just very, very fruitful.>>Mahim: I think we have time for two more
questions. So, you in the front. So, like most Bollywood films, there are lots
of dance sequences, so why not in this film?>>Shibani: God, imagine if Rizwan in the middle
of all of this had to break out into a break-dance, my God! How would that be? So, yes, it was
a conscious decision because there was a, you know it was important for it, for the
topic that we addressed is, is a, more than a serious issue, it’s more, it’s an emotional
issue and it’s a sensitive issue for a lot of people. So, we didn’t want to sort of trivialize it
in any way or create a situation where it just becomes unbelievable and laughable in
any way because that was just, that would just be terrible. So, so, yes, it was a, it
was a conscious, it was a conscious decision. Because the idea really behind this film is
you know, you have one billion Muslims in the world, of which, and I’m being, this is
a generous number, maybe five million, maybe, maybe, and I’m, this is a very, very generous
number, may be involved in say, subversive activities or, or, and there’s 995 million
people at the very least that don’t get a, that don’t get any representation, or a voice
in mainstream cinema, either in the East or in the West. And this was our, this was our motive behind
the story and getting it out there so we just didn’t want to actually take on anything that
would, any, take away from this or trivialize it in any way. So, hence the only mini dance
at the wedding where it would, he would dance.>>Mahim: Ok, last question. Ok, so, you in
the back. So, the question was why did Reese not go
to the authorities straight away or call 911 when Sam was first injured and then ultimately
killed?>>Shibani: I think this has got, it has much
more to do with a psychological thing than it has to do with a logical thing because
Reese is actually going through some, some sort of, a post-traumatic stress in a sense
because his father’s died, so his reaction to Sam in any case is not normal. It’s not what he would normally react to.
That compounded with having lost, actually lost a parent and being confronted by older
boys and under the peer pressure of “if you tell, you had it from us,” and your family
could be threatened; he has one mother. So, on Reese, it’s really a combination of those
things plus guilt. The fact that on somewhere, on some level he feels that he’s brought this
on Sam, if he had not confronted him or if he had not talked, sort of said that he was
not talking to him, the boys would not have intervened and this would not have happened. So, it’s a, it’s from Reese’s perspective
it’s much more of a psychological thing of fear and guilt and the traumatic stress of
having lost a parent. So, although logically and practically, he can pick up the phone,
but in the mental and emotional state that he is, he can’t. So, that’s really the basis
of where that comes from.>>Mahim: Great. Thank you. And with that,
we’ll end. We’d like to thank Shibani, once again, for spending the evening with us. [applause]>>Shibani: Thank you and thank you everyone
for coming to the film. For everybody that did enjoy it and I know that Googlers have,
have their tentacles all over the world, please tell friends and, and well wishers to actually
find it and watch it because we feel it’s the story and a message that if it can go
out to as many people as possible, the better we’ll be, so thank you.>>Mahim: Thanks. [applause]

5 thoughts on “Shibani Bathija: “My Name is Khan” | Talks at Google

  1. its great learning… all the best shibani…..

    google team … don't now but find difficult to run probably heavy video….. check it out… and hope these conversations and great talk continue….

  2. Shibani did not wake up one day and start writing for Yash Raj or Karan Jauhar..how did she get in touch with such a big director/producers? thats question would have helped other upcoming writers..

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