Ghajini Movie Review-Forgive & Forget | 2008-12-24
The film Aamir Khan should erase from his memory
“Aiyyo, I just watched a Madrasi film with Aamir Khan in it!” That was my first reaction as I stepped out of the theatre.
I am not The Bitch for nothing. I would never be able to sit through a commercial south region film simbly because I find them unintentionally funny even if they are deadpan serious.
It didn‘t make sense years ago when I saw ‘Memento‘. It wouldn‘t have made sense had I watched the Tamil ‘Ghajini‘ before I reviewed ‘Ghajini‘ Hindi. Would it?
The trick they said with ‘Memento‘ was to watch it backwards. Go to the end and rewind back.
I gave it a thought, rewinding ‘Memento‘ to see if I could understand anything. But I gave up, too much work it seemed.
Which brings me to the Tamil ‘Ghajini‘ where even the subtitles would not help me grasp anything, and then I‘d be going, “Arre, why the sudden dance break in the middle of a psychological thriller?”
I have been silly. ‘Memento‘ was a complicated film made not to be understood by anyone. ‘Ghajini‘ is an uncomplicated film made for no understanding, just pulp.
Indian film makers always have that one special trick to outfox you. “Don‘t understand what is going on…chill with a song and dance routine.”
Copy toh copy, upar se nache mayuri! (Aphorisms have always been my bane)
Aamir Khan‘s ‘Ghajini‘ is a ghajak! Through the course of this review I will try to shed light on issues that should clear your misconception and allay your fears which you unnecessarily create in your mind.
This whole north-south divide in films is so unfair man! Mind it, like Aamir, I was also taking notes in the hall, lest my fish bowl memory should fail me.
Don‘t tell me you don‘t know the story already? Didn‘t you get the spoiler sms?
Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan) is a rich businessman pataoing a bubbly pony tailed girl Kalpana (Asin) when he‘s not signing blank paper contracts. She is a model who likes to rescue children and old people in icky situations in her spare time.
One day, while rescuing 25 adolescent girls from human trafficking, her panga with a local don turns nasty and they arrive at her apartment to settle scores, where she is killed and Aamir is battered unconscious. When he wakes up, he can‘t remember a thing beyond a 15 minute short term memory except the murder scene where the killer‘s face is a haze. With the help of Sunita (Jiah Khan) he seeks revenge.
When Aamir removes his shirt in the beginning, The Bitch went, ‘Ooh la la‘. The Lilliput actor has worked very hard to flex his muscles and how!
He struts around like a peacock and roars like a lion. I was wondering which hybrid species is he?
At times in the film he gets so violent with destructive rage that I saw absolutely no reason why we should not put him in a King Kong costume in search of his lady love. Poor beast!
Some questions to be answered when you guys get back from the film.
Why do Asin and Aamir travel by bus on New Year‘s eve night when they can wear such expensive clothes and afford an auto ride home? I‘ll let that one pass. Auto strike.
How does Aamir find the villain‘s house when he has only the chap‘s mugshot and his special 15 minute memory to bank on? This one is total hindi film haan.
Why do the villain‘s henchmen shoot before they can see who they want to shoot?
When did guys start keeping diaries? Aamir does in the film!
Which model‘s only ambition in life is to buy 3 sarkari Ambassador cars? Asin‘s is!
Why don‘t these lovers ever hold hands, or even kiss, forget making out? Beats me that they live circa 2006!
Why does the hero leave his phone in the car when the damsel in distress is calling him? Someone in the audience shouted, ‘Hindi film drama baba‘.
Lessons to be learned from the film.
Heroines with silky shampoo hair toss and turn and look over their shoulders a lot, especially at the hero, and they sometimes wink for love. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Villains are to be killed exactly the same way they killed the hero‘s sweetheart. Yaad dila dila ke maro. Somebody‘s gotta pay!
Bollywood actors migrating to a South Indian film set up will have to wear weird combination of technicolor clothes for song sequences. If they want to style themselves like Yash Birla, nothing like it. Super!
Brace yourself for gory action sequences where the hero pumps a tap knob into a goonda‘s stomach.
In another, he smacks a guy in the face and the guy‘s head turns around 180 degrees! Wow!
The hero is so lethal that even when you drive a rod into his stomach, he will last for another 15 minutes, fighting till his short term memory lasts!
Aamir Khan has lightened up as an actor over the years. He‘s no more into histrionics a la Bhuvan or Mangal Pandey. Has little to speak in the film, more to growl and grunt and huff and pant.
Jiah Khan has a lot of running to do with him.
Asin is how all girls in South Indian romance films are. Extra peppy and exuberant and with a pony tail to wag the dog.
This review is 15 minutes too long. I forgot I had to end. Memory lapse.
Watch it for the heck of a revenge saga.
Songs are bad, picturisation is flat, there‘s more man-cleavage than woman undressed. There is no acting or dialogues to speak of. The film is in the action and editing details which keeps you engaged since you cannot escape.
But before I end, here‘s the spoiler. In the end you‘ll feel as if ‘Taare Zameen Par‘ is about to start. Strange, ask Aamir, he‘s the one who‘s lost it…his ability to think ahead.
I saw a fantastic Aamir Khan [Images] film the other night, one where his obsession with a pretty woman led to him being clubbed on the head with a generic looking rod. The blunt force trauma led to amnesia, or so claimed Khan’s character, leading to a wickedly fun plot, rife with both misunderstanding and subterfuge. Awesome stuff, Andaz Apna Apna.
Then, on Monday, I watched Ghajini [Images]. And an Andaz Apna Apna this ain’t.
Before going into what it is, let us first dispense with the Memento [Images] talk.
The film’s makers have ludicrously attached a disclaimer that says that because their film’s protagonist suffers from a little-known medical disorder called anterograde amnesia, there is a likelihood that their story could feature elements common to other stories and films. Riight. Must be easy to be a specialist in the field then, a doctor who just needs to check the patient for a series of tattoos.
And while Ghajini might feature Aamir Khan going through the exact same condition Guy Pearce does in Memento yet — despite the tattoos, the polaroids, and the vengeful hero with a penchant for post-its — this is a pretty original desi picture, yes sir.
For director AR Murugadoss [Images] doesn’t take that ’story’ credit lightly: He’s taken the Memento plot, set its non-linearity into chronological order, taken out the actual investigative intrigue and replaced it with a series of convenient coincidences and — this one’s the clincher — added a full-blown backstory about how the hero met and fell in love with the murder victim, complete with a bunch of songs. It’s hard work making good masala, for God’s sake.
And Aamir Khan knows it well. It’s dubious as to just how much that body needed to be beefed up — heaven knows Guy Pearce didn’t resemble a steroid commercial — but Khan’s dedication is impressive, no question. As Sanjay Singhania, the killing machine dedicated to tracking down his lover’s killer, the actor plays a frenzied killing machine, clinical yet with a twisted, macabre fondness for gore. And he does really well.
His anterograde condition kicks in every fifteen minutes, which means he has to now restart investigation, scribble refreshed notes, and get back on track. And he’s very well-versed in habit; at a point when he’s suspicious despite having no self-scribbled clue to guide him, he analyses breathing patterns. It’s a role that requires much consternation — and Khan is truly wonderful when his character is bewildered — as well as much over-the-top, frothing at the mouth rage.
That would have been it for his job description had this been a standard, well-produced action movie, but there is a hardcore filmi romance smack bang in the middle of it all — one that has possibly a few minutes more screentime than the action section. And while Khan can still pour out the smitten-schoolboy charm at 43, the entire romantic part of the film is so depressingly obvious that it doesn’t work at all, and only serves in slowing down the momentum of what would be an entertaining action film.
A large part of this blame must be assigned to the leading lady. Granted, Asin [Images] is straddled with a character that begs the suffix -ine to be tagged onto her name, but a strong performance could certainly have salvaged this half of the film. Her Kalpana is one of those do-gooder heroines soaking in earnestness and sympathy, the kind of character that went out of style back when Juhi Chawla [Images] was a heroine, and it needed much verve to actually make this work. She doesn’t deliver — her chirpiness is most painful — and resultantly this rather stereotyped he’s-rich-she-doesn’t-know romance always seems underwhelming.
Even with the romance getting in the way, Murugadoss’ version of the amnesiac killer could have been a very compelling watch. There are times when they take huge departures from the original film, and the what-if possibilities are most intriguing. Until, you discover, that nothing is done about them. In a chilling scene, the villain’s goons strap Khan down and, after painting over his meticulously graffiti’d walls and his investigative charts, take out a tattoo gun and crudely rub out all his tattoos, the clues he’s investigated for so long.
This sets you up beautifully for a sequence where Khan discovers this, one where he wakes up to realise that all his investigations have been in vain. Does he even know he was investigating in the first place? And how does he feel waking up to see a body covered in hideously scratched out tattoos? It’s a trauma the character begs to be dealt with, but alas… the moment is ignored, possibly in favour of giving more time to the half-hour climax. Sigh.
This is a violent film, but there is no call for that besides shock. The gore seems gratituous — there is a tap scene bordering on the laughable — and while Khan leaps into his adversaries with an alarming intensity, somehow its hard to stomach a film where he stands in the middle of an alley and fells seven-with-one-blow. It is the kind of cinema we thought we’d seen the back of, and even if there’s nothing wrong with escapist mainstream masala, both audiences and Aamir seem a little less used to it.
Pradeep Rawat plays the titular villain with undisguised glee making up for thespian skills, and Jiah Khan [Images], glimpsed here after Nishabd [Images], is actually quite decent in a character better written than that of the heroine. Unfortunately, the only time she does look super-hot (in white, in the Lattoo song) is the one song where the director keeps cutting away to the action, darn it. The songs are completely extraneous narrative killers, but Rahman’s turned in a marvellous soundtrack and we’ll lap them up uncomplainingly.
Watch Ghajini, though. Watch it for Aamir Khan, because I don’t think I’ve seen him having this much fun as an actor in a very long time — and that’s always great to see. Not that I mean it’s as good as Teelu, of course.
The film itself is impressive in bits, with some terrific sequences, but the romance takes away its thunder. It is a breezy watch that could have been a really crackling one, and while there really is timepass fun to be had, the overwhelming feeling is one of regret.
For what can you say about a film on memory loss that turns out forgettable?
Cast: Aamir Khan, Asin, Jiah Khan
Director: AR Murugadoss
Music: AR Rahman
Anupama Chopra, Consulting Editor, Films, NDTV
At the recently held Indian Screenwriters’ Conference in Mumbai, writer-director Abbas Tyrewala lamented the lack of villains in Bollywood. He said that clearly defined villains used to be our staple diet.
This was true until sometime in the mid-1990s, when happy smiling families and yuppies in designer clothes took over. Well, I’m happy to report that the villain is back.
Ghajini, played ferociously by Pradeep Singh Rawat, is the kind of villain who wears thick gold chains and rings on every finger. He is defiantly brutal – he runs a pharmaceutical company but for reasons never explained, he likes to smash iron rods into human heads and forces young girls into both prostitution and organ trade.
He has one gold tooth, wears shiny white shoes and keeps a posse of henchmen so ugly that they look like they were airlifted from Ram Gopal Varma’s last film. And of course Ghajini routinely drops lines like: aise marenge ki uska nakhun bhi nahi milega and my personal favourite: short-term memory loss patient mujhe kya yaad dilaayega.
Ghajini, director A R Murugadoss’s remake of his Tamil blockbuster, is a throw back to what Hindi films used to be: a three hour extravaganza of romance, comedy, action, set-piece songs and drama.
It’s a standard revenge film given a fresh twist with a dash of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Memento. Like that film, the protagonist here, Sanjay Singhania played by Aamir Khan, is hit on the head and suffers from short-term memory loss. He cannot remember anything for more than 15 minutes.
So, he tattoos his body with instructions: the most important one being that his girlfriend Kalpana was murdered, and he must find the murderer and kill him. The film is riddled with logical loopholes but Murugadoss, who also wrote it, doesn’t give you enough time to think about them.
So, you never ask how Sanjay, the fabulously wealthy owner of a cellphone company, conducts a lengthy romance with Kalpana, played by debutant Asin, pretending to be an ordinary man? Or why Ghajini, a master-thug and expert killer, doesn’t have a gun when he needs it the most? Or why the key conflict, which leads to Kalpana’s death, is such a random imposition on the script?
Instead, you are caught up in the mystery of how a superbly stylish businessman becomes a killing machine who routinely cracks necks and in his introduction scene, plunges a broken tap into a man’s stomach. Ghajini isn’t for the faint-hearted. The violence is gory and elemental. The climax is pure man-on-man combat with lots of crunching bones.
For Aamir, Ghajini is a 360 degree turn from the sensitive teacher he played in Taare Zameen Par. With a buffed up, eight-pack body, here he is a brutal killer in a murderous rage. Watch him as he explodes with grief and then just as quickly forgets it. It’s a memorable performance indeed.
Thankfully Asin is less animated than she was in the Tamil version. Some of their romantic scenes, and particularly her death are nicely done.
Ghajini isn’t a great film or even a very good one..