Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ghajini the Fighter

Having seen the first 20 minutes, I had adamantly argued with KS that Ghajini was exactly Memento. Polaroid pictures with names on them, tattooed mirrored text on a well-built body, the same underlying revenge plot, all remind you of Memento. I was quite wrong though. Memento was a much intelligently made movie with an unknown actor (Guy Pearce) as the protagonist, still reaching #27 on IMDB's all time top 250. Ghajini, on the other hand, terribly depicts an Indian masala replete with action, romance, drama, dream song sequences, and stars the best Indian actor. There can be no comparison between Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece and A R Murugadoss’s Ghajini. Even Aamir Khan did not understand Memento [You might have to sign up on AK's blog to read the post], and you might want to keep your brains at home while watching Ghajini.

A business tycoon (who rolls up already shorter-than-half sleeves of his shirts in his business meetings) cannot register fresh memories after an incident that killed his romantic partner. He manages his memory through tattoos, notes, pictures and reminders. Finding Ghajini out and killing him is the ultimate goal of his life. The story now follows two parallel plots, the present, and the flashback through an over-stretched diary-reading session, where AK introduces the reader to his associates and romantic adventures a la Tom Riddle from Harry Potter, and there ensues a normal romance-revenge drama. Once you survive through, the although predictable end is sort of likeable.

Aamir Khan, no doubt, worked (out) a lot for the film. The concept of anterograde amnesia is very fresh and novel for Indian cinema. But alas, there it ends. Murugadoss forgot to pay attention to the other pieces. So while the movie is a blockbuster, looking at things other than AK's abs would reveal tons of plot loopholes, a dragging narrative, repetitive jokes, and pathetic acting by almost everybody else. Despite his new-found muscles, the short and stocky Aamir incredulously thrashes equally well-built men a foot taller than him.

Jiah Khan couldn't even act properly to drink water. Kalpana was satiatingly cheeky and moronically funny and a huge fan of Mother Teresa, but Asin did some justice to the role. Pradeep Rawat definitely did much better as Sultan in Sarfarosh and as Ashwatthama in B R Chopra's Mahabharata than as Ghajini where he looks a South Indian unsucessfully faking a thick Haryanwi accent. The other nobodies looked acting schools aspirants. ARR's music too was a let down. I liked only Kaise Mujhe Tum Mil Gayin, the others have silly lyrics and catchy beats.

The clone has heavy undertones of the Tamil version. The extras, the accents, the ambiance. Anyone would have better watched the original instead. Another big blunder was the nomenclature. The Tamil movie is about a concept 'Ghajini' from Mahmud of Ghazni, who invaded India 17 times till he succeeded; but the history link has been screwed up by naming the villain so.

The length of the film is a full three hours. Had I edited it, I'd have retained the first half an hour, the last half hour, and extracted another half from the middle two hours. Ghajini, which could have been an seat-gripping psychological thriller, ended up being a predictable romantic revenge drama, which had to have a stupid epilogue. Aamir Khan is the only good thing; the movie failed to live up to my expectations, and would fetch only 6 out of my scale of 10.


31 comments:

Ashutosh said...

Graceful Review (a much awaited one).


Don't know what to say about this.... soon die hard fans of Ghajini will be moving the joystick on the (small) screen... "Ghajini... The Game".

ashes said...

Ashutosh:

Thanks.

Yeah I had read about the game. However, I don't think it will create any hype. FX Labs earlier created a game based on Dhoom 2, which no computer has ever seen I believe. Anyway it beats me to be not able to think of anything that they could have fitted for the game. They'd perhaps only have a tattooed Aamir wandering around beating the shit out of people. Would that be of interest to anyone?

Bhuvan said...

6 number to bahut de diye aapne, mujhe to 3 ke layak bhi nahi lagi. 1st scene se story pata chalti hai.

Aur aamir saala 1.5 futiya...body ka frame hi nahi hai..4 muscle fula lene se body thode banti hai....somehow i dont like that taklu look of aamir..poora cartoon aur pagal dikh raha hai...aamir ki next movie dekhna kam business karegi...people are very disappointed with ghajini...generally speaking...

Vamsee said...

Great review, once again. I might give the movie a 7, just because I had the advantage of not seeing the Tamil version and I closed my eyes for the gory parts. I watched Memento many years back and didn't remember much of it either.
Aamir looked and acted well. Asin was very beautiful. She is being wasted in tamil cinema.
I agree with you about Jiah Khan - looked bad and acted bad.
I think it was a good movie (especially after RNBDJ) if you can overlook the blood.

ashes said...

Bhuvan:

:) Well, I liked Aamir Khan, and I disliked the movie slightly less than RNBDJ, which I had rated 5, so had to rate this 6. Mujhe to story pehle se hi pata tha...par woh to RNBDJ ki bhi pata thi na, which you seemed to like quite a bit.

I agree on Aamir's height. He is too short, and looks stout with all those muscles. But he acted well. The way he growls and all. The taklu look made him look like his nephew Imran, and his protruding large ears look all the more prominent.

But I disagree on his next movie. Ghajini made higher box office collections that Rab Ne....and has only Aamir as the attraction. His next flick is again going to be a superhit. Anyway, the business a movie does is not related to how good or bad it is. Goodness/badness is a relative term, the aam-junta finds these movies good and therefore they sell.

ashes said...

Vamsee:

Thanks. I too haven't seen the Tamil version, but I revised Memento the night before I saw Ghajini, just to compare the two. (I was actually thinking of writing a comparison rather than a review, but then realised they belong to different classes and are therefore not comparable).

But it is not gory at all! I mean, not even by Indian standards, and for someone like you who's lived in the US for 8 years, and are into watching Hollywood movies, this should not be gory/violent at all. In fact, many Sunny Deol movies are gorier than this one.

Vamsee said...

Hollywood movies are not gory unless you are talking about Kill Bill which I have not seen. I am OK watching violence with guns and bombs, but people getting hit with iron rods and blood oozing out is a bit too much.
I could not watch the scene where Kalpana gets killed.

ashes said...

Vamsee:

Well, Hollywood has a vast assortment of movies, and I have watched quite a few gory ones apart from the Kill Bill's. Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, The Departed, American History X, Reservoir Dogs, Gladiator, No Country For Old Men, are a few very famous ones. Try the SAW series, or the CUBE series (French), or even UK movies like 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later to see actual gore.

Also, try the very good Abhay Deol starrer 'Ek Chalees ki Last Local' for an Indian gore more than Ghajini.

I don't mean you should see these movies, but only that there are a lot many movies gorier than Kill Bill, Kill Bill 2 anyway did not involve much blood.

Anadi Misra said...

hum 2 week baad comment karenge tumhare movie blogs par...after seeing the movies :)

ashes said...

Anadi:

Abe reviews movie dekhne ke baad padhte ho tum?

Anadi Misra said...

padh liya hai, comment tab karenge jab movie dekh lenge :P

Indigo said...

Good review. That is the beauty/tragedy of Indian movies. They try to mix everything up in the same film rather than trying out different themes in different movies. I will give it atmost 5 stars.

Did you notice there is a scene that is a direct rip-off from Amelie?

Roli said...

Have watched the movie just few hours back and came out with heavy head... it seems to be long movie then normal 3hrs. The first half of the movie was fine but the second half is unnecessary exaggerated.

Amir Khan has really done a good job. And all other actors were looking as if they are doing some tamil movie and I didn't liked them.

I agree with you that this movie is not as everyone was expecting...

ashes said...

Indigo:

That is what my point was. But perhaps thats what appeases the Indian audience...a porridge of everything.

Are you talking about the scene where Asin very stupidly 'escorts' an old blind man to his bus stand while narrating the happenings on the way while AK is waiting in tow?

ashes said...

Roli:

Yes you are right. The already long movie feels longer because of the unnecessary stretching.

~vagabond~ said...

You're really good at writing these movie reviews...you ought to consider doing them professionally. I havent watched ghajini yet so cant really comment on the movie...but I hate it so very much when they take a perfectly good Hollywood movie and butcher it. Ugh! And the fact that its a remake of a remake makes me wonder if I even want to watch it.

ashes said...

Vagabond:

Thanks a lot. That is too much of a compliment :P

Yeah, I got pissed off in the first 10 minutes only. But as I said in the review also, Ghajini is not a remake of Memento, but heavily inspired from it, and this without crediting it.

Saurabh said...

Being an AK fan, I really wanted to see the movie. But some reviews and the length of the movie was holding me from seeing the movie till now. After reading your review I don't feel like seeing it all. I mean, in the good old days when Sachin was THE person in the Indian cricket team, you never wanted to see a match in which he got out early. So how can I see a AK movie which is so bad.
But on second thoughts, being an AK fan and since he will not get out in the movie till the end, I think I will still go and watch it. And now that I have no expectations from the movie, I may end up liking it. Afterall its an AK movie :)

ashes said...

Saurabh:

Hmm...that's what I wanted. Go and watch the movie, but don't have any expectations about the movie. AK is like Sachin just managing to save an innings defeat.

Do watch it and let me know how did you like it.

Saurabh said...

Finally I saw the movie on Wednesday. I would not agree with you completely. I would rate the movie a 7.5-8, for its ability to hold you tight on your seat for more than 3 hours. The romance and all inserted in it does not feel a burden on the movie and actually make you empathize with Sanjay. Songs are a part of Indian cinema and it takes real guts from director/producer to get rid of it. I actually liked most of the songs (along with its awesome cinematography) except the Lattoo song.
The only thing totally unconvincing in the movie is Sanjays 15 min memory loss. At places it looked like it was more like 2-4 hours before his memory tanked.
I also think, whats the point of a movie (Memento here) if you cant understand it at the end even after watching it a couple more times? Its better to see a movie which may be a little less intelligent, but still you understand it at the end.
And we do like a lot of movies which at the end do not ultimately make a lot of sense. For example Sixth sense, awesome gripping story, but ultimately after the movie you realize, how could Mr Bruce Willis not see his own blood clotted shirt for so many days in the movie? Are we to understand that he is so unhygienic as to not bath for days?
Oh this has become such a long comment, almost a defense of Ghajini. Btw, I am yet to see Memento, so may be thats why I liked Ghajini so much. But that did save me from cursing Ghajini for 3 hours :)

ashes said...

Saurabh:

Yeah the idea would look novel to anyone who has not seen Memento. And for those who have, it would look like a very bad treatment for a very good movie. And since many Indians would not have seen Ghajini, the movie was a superhit in Tamil and now in Hindi.

I was particularly pissed off because I had better expectations. There were lot of insensible and illogical loopholes, but then they are part of Indian cinema (there are quite a lot of them in Slumdog Millionaire also, and as you pointed out, in Sixth Sense also), that is why I did not point them out.

Anyway, I would still wait (in fact, love) to see your reactions after you watch Memento. :) The entire movie is completely about the memory loss, and is quite interesting to see how is he manipulated. The end is superb again. Well, let e save more details for my review on Memento.

And yes, I have a CD of Memento just in case you want :)

Mayank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mayank said...

I watched it. Thank god and internet I didn't waste 10$ to watch it in the theater.
Not expected for an Amir Khan movie. I would rate Rab Ne far better than this. I mean that at least had some story, far less technical loopholes and better direction. Those who can sit glued for 3 hours and watch this 80s style action movie, please get some treatment...or try Slumdog Millionaire

ashes said...

Mayank:

:) Yes, there were hundreds of loopholes in Ghajini, but Rab Ne was no less. Did you read my review on Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi?

Slumdog is a class apart. Amazing movie!

Anadi Misra said...

OK, as promised, I watched the movie in a little over 2 weeks and here I am with my views. In a nut-shell, it was a total masala...which explains the stupendous BO success...I would say 7.5 to 8ish as Saurabh said...

I am guessing that one reason you didn't like it much was because you re-visited Memento and were perhaps comparing it to that one while watching the movie...In Memento, the AA & non-linearity were key plot points, here AA was just sub-text and wasn't even used correctly except for a few critical scenes (so perhaps that can be forgiven)...You went to a masala movie expecting a psychological thriller (hence clean slate is a key to reviewing movies...purge all biases before going in)

I agree with you, the movie did drag on...thankfully, the Asin sub-plot was a wonderful diversion. What an amazing screen presence, she looks like a good actress too...if she plays her cards right, she can become a big star.

Here I will concur with RPA, the movie is watchable (at least from my perspective) because of Asin...otherwise its just a straightfwd. revenge drama with a grunting protagonist and some amnesia thrown in. It also helps humanize the raging animal that AK is portrayed as...

I do agree with a lot of what Saurabh has said above. Another thing I feel against is the obsession with finding flaws :) Critiquing movie for critics?

Music - I like Kaise Mujhe, Guzarish and Behka become bearable after repeat listening...Baccho & Lattu are just passable at best...what I think is worse is the background score...doesn't convey the impact very well....

Overall, I was looking for entertainment, the movie did entertain me in parts...mostly the Asin sub-plot, a few scenes involving Amir taking revenge (like the climax), and when he reacts when the goons kill her in front of him...but yeah, long movie...i need a nap :D

Anadi Misra said...

Read this, a funny take on Ghajini,told from the villain's perspective
http://4by6.in/utopia/?p=456

It has reviews for other movies as well

Few excerpts...



"Getting killed by a blood crazy Suniel Shetty is acceptable. But being hit on the head by a man with only 15 minutes of memory is a real low for us"

"But inspite of the hero being stabbed, losing considerable amount of blood and not being able to even remember his own address, the villain managed to identify himself as the killer, provoke memories in a man with retrograde amnesia"

"One of the things that the Bollywood villains will be critically looking at is the tendency of their brethren to give long winding speeches instead of finishing off the injured hero. Trade analysts said that Bollywood is a tough place for Villains, as screen time devoted to them is very little. “The only time the villains get some decent dialogue is when the hero is down on the floor. You cant really blame them if they get carried away sometime”

"For many years, the group has ignored scientific breakthroughs & stuck to the age old fallacies of kidnapping the heroes’ sister, verbally abusing his relatives etc."

ashes said...

Anadi:

Well, Memento and Ghajini belong to two different genres. I liked Ghajini, (see my rating), but I hated the length that prevented it from being a movie I would have loved. I found interesting subplots only far and between. But seriously, I did not like Asin. Her character was too fake, or maybe too puerile. Plus extending scenes there too...the road crossing and the naala-crossing scene for example.

The excerpts were really funny, thanks for sharing them. But they are quite true about Ghajini.

Saurabh said...

Finally, I have also seen Memento. And after the first half hour itself I realized (and empathized) why you so hated Ghajini. Oh this is a movie where you not only wish to take your brain with you but also wish to have had a couple more to get the sequencing of events in your mind right.

Frankly speaking like Anadi said, if you would have seen Ghajini with an empty slate you would have liked Ghajini a bit more than your given rating. But thats difficult, and esp if its an AK movie we expect something more than just masala. Especially if its such a good subject (AA) to make on and even more when you already have such a neat example to copy, uh inspire, from. Even I am disappointed now that AK couldn't come up with something better.

But I still stand by my initial rating as its a clean slate review and not based/interpreted on another review. As said in Memento, memory is all but interpretations, not a record. My rating was not an interprtation, he he he :)

Btw, why dont you write a review of Memento. I still did not understand the movie completely and may be that would be a good place to discuss it.

Amiya Shrivastava said...

Gosh!! You screwed up my enthu to watch the movie..I was waiting to watch it since its release.. I'd never read your reviews again!

ashes said...

Saurabh:

"...you not only wish to take your brain with you but also wish to have had a couple more to get the sequencing of events in your mind right..." Yeah, that's what many people say, but that is what makes the movie all the more interesting :)

Had I seen Ghajini with a clean slate, I would have rated it one point higher, not more. I seriously did not like the middle two-hour-long-saga-of-being-Mother-Teresa-and-rich-guy-poor-girl-romance.

Sure, your request has been recorded and will be honoured as soon as I end up in a situation where I have the mood to write but do not find a good topic. Kidding. Will write one soon.

ashes said...

Amiya:

Well, you should not be biased with my reviews. Watch the movie, and then come back and read the review again and see if it matches your sense. Over a period of time and few movies, you can rely on my reviews and not waste time watching movies I rate badly.

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