Celebrates the Return of the Formula
By Movie Talkies, 26 December 2008
Aamir Khan, the actor, has the habit of springing surprises. Post Taare Zameen Par, one had assumed that he was now onto meaningful, serious cinema. Then he springs his surprise by working in AR Murugadoss' Ghajini, a true blue masala film. But what Aamir manages to do, is retain his seriousness. He brings a rare maturity and seriousness into his portrayal of the character of Sanjay Singhania, the protagonist of Ghajini. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Aamir's performance in Ghajini gives the good old masala potboilers a much needed shot in the arm. Like all formula fare, Ghajini's story is, in a certain sense, predictable, but what raises the bar here is the manner in which the movie has been shot, its screenplay, and its rivetting performances by the lead pair of Aamir and Asin. The point really to note here is how good intentions, backed by a perfectionist streak, can transform even the most done to death revenge formula into such a rivetting movie.
The film's USP is naturally Aamir Khan and quite deservedly so. Except for Asin, none of the other characters are worth more than a mention. A lot of that, of course, has to do with their relative importance in the general scheme of things. But the only flaw in the film which stands out glaringly is the lack of a suitably menacing antagonist. Pradeep Rawat's Ghajini is hardly menacing enough to create the perfect counterfoil to Aamir's Sanjay Singhania. Also the clash between Asin's Kalpana and Ghajini, is weak and seems more like a rushed job, as if the director and storywriter, could not wait to get on with the blood and gore portions.
Despite the film's running length of some three odd hours, director Murugadoss manages to hold the attention of his audiences, as the narrative moves back and forth, into the past and then back into the present, never once losing the thread. There has been much speculation about whether the film is based on Christopher Nolan's Memento or not. But that fact hardly bothers one as Murugadoss's protagonist and his tale has the audience glued to their seats.
Ghajini is the tale of a cell company head honcho, Sanjay Singhania, a shy, diffident tycoon, who finds love with a smalltime model and good Samaritan, Kalpana (Asin). Love blossoms between the two with Kalpana never realizing that Sanjay, who she thinks is Sachin, is actually a tycoon. She mistakes him for a struggling model and tries to help him out with a break for an underwear ad. However, Kalpana's clash with Ghajini (Rawat), brings their love story to an end. All that Sanjay is left with, is a mind that has a memory span of only 15 minutes, a diary which details his life until that fateful day when Kalpana was killed by the goons, some photographs and the various tattoos on his body, which give his life a purpose and mission, which is to find Ghajini and kill him.
Aamir's transformation from the shy, diffident, mature lover boy to the superbly beefed up, revengehungry Sanjay, is remarkable. The surprising thing about this film is the fact that actually Aamir does not speak much. He has very few dialogues, but what he does do is speak volumes with his eyes and his body language; even his silences are more eloquent than the spoken word. That is what makes Ghajini stand out, even from those early Rajkumar Santoshi collaborations with Sunny Deol. As the narrative alternates between the dark present and the warm memories of yesterday, one finds oneself almost missing the shy lover boy. In fact, it's probably been ages since Aamir has played the conventional lover boy and he is so convincing and pleasing that one is loath to let go of him. His stark portrayal of the revenge driven Sanjay is of course masterly, giving as it does a neat touch to the archetypal action hero of yore. The action sequences are deadly and have been executed with clinical precision.
Besides Aamir, the other loveable factor about the movie is Asin, who makes her Hindi film debut with Ghajini. She breezes her way through the role of Kalpana, with a spontaneity and simplicity which is quite captivating. She more than manages to hold her own opposite Aamir and excels in the scene when she is hounded by the goons. As for the rest of the cast, Jiah Khan as the helpful medical student and Rawat as Ghajini are just about competent.
AR Rahman's music is the other highlight of the movie. Two numbers, specially, 'Behka, Behka Sa' and 'Guzarish' really stand out. The numbers have also been beautifully choreographed and captured on camera by cinematographer Ravi Chandran, who does a great job with the rest of the film as well.
Murugadoss reveals his hold over the cinematic medium as he retells an oft heard tale in a fresh and innovative manner. Ghajini is a commercial, masala film and it makes no bones about it. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that the film celebrates the return of the commercial potboiler. This formula works!