Striking Bollywood Intersections

My Name Is Khan
My Name Is Khan
My Name Is Khan (Sony Music India, 2010)

The soundtrack to the new film “My Name is Khan” is an outstanding recording which combines the best of South Asian music with Sufism and western elements. The movie “My Name is Khan” follows Rizvan Khan, an Indian Muslim. Rizvan has Aspergers syndrome (a mild form of autism) and moves to San Francisco. He falls in love with Mandira. Regardless of protests from his family, they get married and start a small business together.

Rizvan and Madira have a joyful life until September 11, 2001 when attitudes toward Muslims undergo a drastic change. Mandira is devastated and they separate. Rizvan is confused and very distraught that the love of his life has left him. To win her back, he embarks on a journey across the United States of America.

Director Karan Johar worked with Indian composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (SEL) to develop the soundtrack. SEL have produced the music for several of Johar’s projects. “Every film has a sound that is ingrained in its genes,” says Karan Johar. “Even when I’m shooting a sequence, I always have background music playing in my head.”

The dramatic opening track, titled  “Sajdah,” features one of the greatest Qawwali singers, Pakistani Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, along with Shankar Mahadevan, one of India’s top singers, and Richa Sharma, who is one of Bollywood’s leading playback singers. “Sajdah” is a song about the prostration to God that symbolizes the devotion of Khan and his wife, Mandira, to each other on the day of their wedding.

Rizvan’s journey is accompanied by Qawwali, Punjabi and Bollywood music which at times intersect with American music such as rock and country. “Country music is so simple that it’s relatable to everybody,” explains composer Ehsaan.

Western classical music influences appear in the love theme, “Khan,” which is an exquisite orchestral piece performed by the Bombay Film Orchestra.

The beautifully packaged soundtrack of “My Name is Khan” is one of the finest film music creations of the year.

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