If there is any actor that you can almost always depend on to deliver a solid film, it’s Aamir Khan. Perhaps it’s the way he meticulously chooses his scripts or the fact that he re-invents himself as an actor with every release—but an Aamir Khan film is always one that any filmy fan awaits with bated breath. In fact, if you really put it in perspective, you’re not shocked that Ghajini is a good film. Why? Because by this stage of the game, you’ve come to expect such quality from an actor who clearly pours his heart and soul into everything he does.
Before venturing into this film, I made sure to watch Christopher Nolan’s Memento with great detail so that I would be able to determine exactly how “inspired” Ghajini is by this great Hollywood film. I can safely say that besides using the basic plot of a man suffering from anterograde amnesia and driven by revenge, Ghajini takes a road less travelled and is in fact quite a different film. In fact, it’s hardly Memento at all, which is a great relief to someone like me who sternly looks down upon Hollywood remakes.
The film’s narrative unfolds in flashbacks. As we meet Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan), his bulging eyes and introverted nature introduce us to a man with intense anger waiting to be unleashed. He is plagued by a condition known as anterograde amnesia, which only allows him to store new memories for an extremely short amount of time. Despite his condition, he has manages to come up with a system that allows him to continue functioning efficiently, with an ultimate goal in mind. We quickly realize that he is a dangerous killer who is slowly combing through a hit list in order to get to one man—Ghajini. Several instances take us into his past and show us that this inexplicable rage is driven by a lost love, Kalpana (Asin), whose death must be avenged.
While it’s obvious that the plot has been taken straight from Memento, almost all of the proceedings as well as the narrative technique are completely different. Director A.R. Murugadoss, who also directed the Tamil version of the film, has chosen to make most details quite clear to the viewer rather than let them figure things out for themselves. He has also given great scope to Sanjay’s past, giving us ample opportunity to realize the motive behind Sanjay’s goal of avenging his dead lover’s brutal death. This, in fact, is one of the film’s greatest strengths although it does get tedious in the first half. The viewer becomes to intimately drawn to Sanjay and Kalpana’s love story that when it is shattered, we along with Sanjay feel angry. Thus, we are able to empathize with him and despite the fact that he goes to violent lengths to seek revenge; you root for him until the credits roll.
Initially the film seems to start off on shaky ground with some scenes seeming choppy and almost amateur, but the film gets better and better as the minutes pass by. By the thrilling climax, you are left sunken in your chair, breathless. When a film makes your heart pound like Ghajini does, you know it has something going for it. Even with a running time of three hours, you hardly feel like there is room for any editing besides the useless yet catchy songs. If anything, it’s A.R. Rahman’s peppy tracks that get in the way by failing to aid the story in any way. While the background music is at times very amateur, the cinematography is excellent.
The film itself is very creative, and the way it unfolds is unusual for a Bollywood film which usually has a straightforward narrative style. The flashbacks allow the viewer to reel from the intense scenes that take place in the present tense. If the first half of the film allows you to sit back and enjoy, the second half makes you sit up and take notice. Take notice of Aamir’s brilliant performance, Murugadoss’ great vision and a Hindi film that finally thrills you like any great entertainer should.
At this age, Aamir Khan has achieved what hardly any of his contemporaries have managed to do. He has struck the perfect balance between being one of the biggest superstars of the country and still managing to maintain the right to call himself an actor in every sense of the word. His passion for his work is so incredibly clear in Ghajini that you almost have to wonder whether this is the same person that starred in Dil Chahta Hai, Lagaan or Rang De Basanti. I can’t quite call this the best performance of his career because I know for a fact that he will out-do himself time and time again. He’s right when he says he’s his own competition.
Asin makes a strong debut in the Hindi film industry. Just like the film, she starts off a bit uneasy but later grows on you. It’s in the dramatic portions that she shines. What’s great about her is that even if she isn’t always extraordinary, she’s charming and is a refreshing change from many of our size-zero heroines. The lead pair’s chemistry is great too! As a student who gets involved with the wrong people, Jiah Khan is confident and proves that Nishabd was no fluke. This analysis would be incomplete without mentioning Ghajini himself, played by Pradeep Rawat, who makes you hate him every second of the film. That’s a compliment, by the way.
Despite its flaws of a few holes here and there, Ghajini works because of its great themes that are consistent throughout the film. Although the film centres around vengeance, at its core is a passionate love story gone wrong. Also, it seems vital to mention the excellent action scenes that look believable for the most part and would satisfy any action fan. We haven’t really had a great action flick in a while, so while the film may be part-drama, part-romance and part-action, you can safely say that it doesn’t falter in any department. Clearly, this is a masala flick that the public will absolutely love.
When you walk out of Ghajini, you feel completely satisfied as an average movie-goer. At the end of the day, that’s what we all are. Whether we are critics or simply someone who goes to see a film for a night out, we all go for the purpose to be entertained by a film that doesn’t question our intelligence and managed to keep us glued for a good two or three hours. Ghajini does exactly that, and to top it off you bear witness to an astounding performance by Aamir Khan, who has raised his own bar this time around. You better get into Ghajini mode because there’s definitely no stopping this one.