Ghajini Movie Review

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Boooo hoooo hooo! The-man-who-can-do-no-wrong has messed it up. Maane tu yaa maane naa, Ghajini is a step backwards for the man who made Taare Zameen Par. Aamir Khan, you didn’t need to do this. Especially not now. Hope the Academy members don’t get a print or copy of your new film. Otherwise they are sure to have a short-term memory loss about India’s chances at the Oscars this year.

Isn’t it ironic that the film that changed the way movies were made in Hollywood has been turned into a 180-minute showcase of primitive movie-making in Bollywood? The mother of all mind-benders, Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, has been reduced to a vegetable – a word they forgot to translate from the original. What hurts most is not the inspiration bit but the complete lack of intelligence in the script.

Incredible as it may sound, coming from the little big man, Ghajini is no more than a B-grade masala revenge drama from the 80s. The ones where the dying person whispers the villain’s name to the hero just before going kaput. Or where the flashback dissolved in from the pages of a diary. Or where the villain and his merry men with flower-pot hairdo roamed the streets with metal bars. In fact, there are so many of those bars, we wonder how an iron and steel company didn’t make it to the brand tie-up list.

Ghajini’s trump card is, of course, the Memento bit – Aamir’s Sanjay suffers from anterograde amnesia. He can remember things for only about 15 minutes and you are reminded about this every 15 seconds. Yes, that’s the main problem with the film. Not only does it dumb down proceedings, it takes its audience to be dumb, explaining the same thing over and over again.

After all, Aamir couldn’t understand Memento! So what if the tattoos on his torso are in reverse to be read in the mirror? So what if he walks around with a Polaroid camera to click snapshots of people and give a personal caption for future reference? So what if he is avenging his wife’s death, has a man to kill and is helped by another woman? So what if the only twist in the end is yet another memento from Memento?

Yeah, yeah, Mr Khan sweated it out till Mr Brain became Mr Body. But did he really need to? Perhaps for the promotion and marketing bit, definitely not for the movie. A petite Uma Thurman could kill Bill and beat the shit out of his army. The roar in the “roaring rampage of revenge” should have come from within and not from those eight pack abs. Aamir plays it way over-the-top, which suited Surya in the Tamil version, but looks hysterical here.

Is there no redeeming factor through the three hours? Yes there is, and the name’s Asin. We have had a couple of very good debuts this year in Prachi Desai and Anushka Sharma but Asin is the best Bollywood find in a long, long time. Her character’s catchline in the film goes : “Kalpana jadoo ki chhadi hai… Yun ghoomti hai aur sarkarein badal jaati hain.” Don’t know about the sarkars but if Ghajini is to stay afloat after the four-day festive weekend, it has to be because of Asin.

In fact, the Aamir-Asin romantic track in the flashback is the only time you will find yourself laughing and smiling. Aamir as the suave business tycoon is far more at ease but it is Asin who steals the show and gives the film its best moments – the first meeting with Aamir, the helping of the handicapped children, the Ambassador sequence. She is refreshing, easy on the eye and a bundle of infectious energy.

Ghajini’s irony doesn’t end with Memento. In its own little way, it is an anti-thesis of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. There the common man disguised himself as a cool dude to woo the girl. Here the cool (and rich) dude disguises himself as the common man to woo the girl. While Aamir’s common man is nowhere close to SRK’s Suri experience, when the original chocolate boy hero says “I love you”, it still resonates the loudest in Bollywood.

Of course, he gets some help from the best people in the business to express his love. A.R. Rahman and Prasoon Joshi deliver yet again with Behka, Guzarish and Kaise mujhe being the passwords. Despite the very south Indian feel of things – extras prancing around in magenta jackets! – Ravi K. Chandran makes the songs look fetching, contrasting enough to the very-sombre very-green revenge track.

That brings us to the title character. Pradeep Rawat plays Ghajini, the guy Sanjay has to “find and kill”. Unfortunately, Rawat (the Sikh pacer in Lagaan), doesn’t deserve the honour. Even Sholay wasn’t called Gabbar. And here you have the old-school villain, with his rod fetish, mouthing inane lines (dialogues by Piyush Mishra) under his breath and trying his best to look evil. Jiah Khan is the other casting faux pas. She is so irritating that loud background music is often used to drown her lines.

Ghajini’s managed a U/A certificate but it’s not a good idea to take the kids along. Yes, most of the metal action is off-screen but the bodies lying around straight out of The Exorcist, heads turned around 360 degrees, don’t make a pretty sight. The action (Peter Heines and Stun Siva) is hands-on but after Bourne and now, even Bond, it’s again a case of been-there-seen-that.

Surely, most of you remember December 25. But don’t be surprised if within 15 minutes of your leaving the theatres, you go: “Ghajini? What’s that?” Because as the brilliant line in Memento goes, you “can’t remember to forget” the film.

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