Akshay Shah’s piece on GHAJINI…
GHAJINI without a doubt was the most awaited film of 2008. By now it is a given fact that ANYTHING with Aamir Khan is instantly awaited by the audience. The actor has been on a perfect streak of prestige and masala hits back to back since his Oscar Nominated stint in Ashutosh Gowarikers LAGAAN. Be it DIL CHAHTA HAI or TAARE ZAMEEN PAR, Khan has his fingers on the audiences pulse. Heck even a small film with Aamir as the producer turned out to be one of the years biggest surprise hits. While some people found GHAJINI a strange choice for Aamir Khan (a remake of a Tamil pot-boiler is a surprise), Aamir has never hidden the fact that he is a fan of old-school masala cinema too. RAJA HINDUSTANI, GHULAM, FANAA and GHAJINI all belong in the same category, and it’s evident that this will be a one man show all the way.
For those living under a rock, GHAJINI is a remake of the Tamil blood-fest of the same name. The film is a dark and bloody tale of revenge, and quiet easily one of the darkest commercial films to come out of India in recent times apart from Sanjay Gupta’s ZINDAA and Ram Gopal Varma’s SARKAR RAAJ. The movie revolves around Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan) a multi-millionaire CEO of a mobile phone company. His paths cross with Kalpana (the stunning Asin straight from the sizzling South) and the two fall madly in love, until calamity strikes. In a gruesome act of murder Kalpana is taken from Sanjay and he’s left in a coma. Sanjay wakes up in a relentless nightmare as the heavy blow to the head leaves him with anterograde amnesia ( he only has 15 minutes before he loses his memory again and again). With the assistance of a polaroid and heavy tattoo’s Sanjay goes about leaving clues for himself to trace back the past each time. Thus begins a mans quest for revenge, to find the man who took his love…Ghajini Dhananjay (now anyone who appreciated 80’s cinema will vouch this is a kick ass name!). How Sanjay finally gets his revenge forms the crux of the story.
I had doubts about GHAJINI before it’s release for the simple fact the subject matter at hand was quiet dark. This is a violent and brutal film which usually tends to mean female and children’s audience stays away. However where GHAJINI strikes is in the love story which is the perfect lead-up to the darkness that follows. For a film like this to really work and the violence to really be wanted by the audience, the backbone of the story has to be strong, if the audience don’t feel sympathy the film will fall flat, and that’s where A.R Murugadoss (taking a bow in Hindi cinema) strikes gold. The subdued love story and old school charm is simply well done and ensures the audience is smiling as much as they are crying or gritting their teeth. Knowing the entire movie before hand the movie didn’t have the same impact as it did the first time (Suriya’s performances holds it’s own against Aamir’s IMO), but seeing all the aunties around me sniffing at interval, and the edge-of-your-seat silence and gasps in climax I was convinced A.R Murugadoss had a monster on his hands.
At the centre of GHAJINI lies a extremely terrifying and gutso performance from the one and only Aamir Khan. The sheer effort Aamir has put into getting the look and feel of his character right must be applauded. Granted a lot of the work was done for him given it’s a remake, however I found more of a emotional edge to Aamir’s performance than Suriya’s (which focussed on the anger). To put it another way, in the Tamil GHAJINI it’s Suriya’s anger that struck me, all I wanted him to do was find GHAJINI and bash the living daylights out of him, with the Hindi GHAJINI I experienced all those emotions too, however I also felt a enormous amount of sympathy for Sanjay Singhania. A special mention must be made of 2 scenes, the sequence where Aamir looks at himself in the mirror and the climax scene where he loses his memory after a enormous fight. And thank god they changed the climax as it betters on the original and has more of an impact.
Asin does the exact re-run of her performance from the original and is still equally effective this time. Her childlike innocence comes off well, and she compliments Khan well in the comic sequences. Keeping her onboard for the remake definetly paid off. NISHABD girl Jiah Khan on the other hand isn’t given much to do and doesn’t leave much impact.
Finally the man himself..Ghajini Dhanajay played by a ferocious Pradeep Rawat. Rawat excelled in the original, however a little part of me wanted another actor in the role like Irrfan or Kay Kay, however keeping Rawat on pays off in a strange campish way as he gives the film one of the biggest 90’s throwbacks I’ve seen in a long time, remember all those films where the villain would come dressed up outlandishly with gold rings with a constant menacing frown on his face? Well this is Ghajini Dhanjay is THAT villain. Rawat’s job is to be one mean mu*haf*cka and he does just that!
The film is a standout in the musical and technical department too. Be it the stunning song sequences composed by the legend himself A.R Rehman (man what is up with all the top dog’s starting with A…A.R Rehman, Amitabh, Akshay, Aamir….A…). Rehman composes a album which is perfectly in sync with the genre of the film, a film like this needs popular romantic numbers which look beautiful on-screen and capture the mood…old-school dancing around trees as they say now-a-days. My pick of the lot is GUZARISH which is haunting and surreal.
A lot has been said about the violence in GHAJINI, however within the context of the film I found the violence justified. This is a tragic love story about a man seeking revenge for the murder of his girlfriend. Infact, I would go as far as to say, as a film this is Aamir’s darkest film since his National Award winning RAAKH. The action in the movie is the kind that hasn’t been pulled off convincingly in a while. While most film these days tend to “harken back” to the old days but never actually play it out hence alienating a large part of the audience who still want THAT cinema (how else can you explain the roaring success of films like WELCOME and SINGH IS KINGG), which would explain why the likes of a JHOOM BARABAR JHOOM and TASHAN isn’t accepted yet a GHAJINI is. The film is THAT old-school masala film with a dark edge, stunningly mounted action sequences which are outlandish and completely over-the-top yet somehow become believable in the sphere of the world that GHAJINI lives in. Aamir Khan beating up 10 men one after the other like a machine is extremely convincing and the viewer feels his rage and anger, I remember biting my lip in the climax thinking “maar usko mad*&^ch^*&” (the last time I felt this way in a fight scene was Vikram Bhatt’s GHULAM where puny Aamir takes on boxer Saxena, or a wounded Bachchan taking on a one-eyed Dedvgan in Santoshi’s KHAKEE)…..…aah masala! Looking forward to the next Ikka (3 IDIOTS) Aamir Khan…quiet easily the most awaited movie of 09..