Ghajini (2008) Review

Aamir Khan a.k.a. Midas, the Juggernaut, or ‘Man who can do no wrong’ is back again, as usual – with a triumphant Bang. In this sharp, modern revenge drama with a hint of Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento.


is the name of the person our main protagonist Sanjay (Aamir) is in search of, and essentially the only clue to his murdered fiancée – Kalpana (Asin). Suffering from anterograde amnesia, he’s dazed and utterly confused, as his memory never lasts for more than 15 minutes.

He wakes up with a heavy hangover almost every day; not knowing who he is or where he is, followed by the dark realisation that his lover has been slaughtered… Tattoo’s all over his body, polaroid pictures and notes in his apartment serve as constant clues to his shattered life, and his current singular goal – revenge.

A non-linear narrative means we get to know Sanjay’s back-story through flashbacks, thanks to prying medical student Sunita (Jiah). Here we follow Khan’s character Sanjay Singhania – a rich, famous and affluent head of a world leading telecoms company, as he gets to know and fall in love with chirpy struggling actress Kalpana.

Cool and very much reserved is what Sanjay was, before a violent incident causes him to become the rage-filled walking nightmare he currently resembles. His turbulent past and violent present can make for some gruesome, at times outlandish viewing. At the heart of it (as always) there’s a long drawn out love story for the emotional connection, with the delectable, vivacious Asin, and it’s not hard to see why he falls for her…

Ghajini is director A R Murugadoss’s sleek remake of his own Tamil blockbuster, and a throw back to what Hindi films used to be in the 80’s – a three hour extravaganza of two dimensional romance, superfluous comedy, musical set-pieces, comic-book action and maudlin drama. The film’s amplified action scenes (one punch flinging five guys 20 feet – Superman kinda shit) are more attuned to a south Indian audience, but in a weird kind of way, it works, and how. Add in a hackneyed villain, stunning dream sequences and a near psychotic leading man, and you have a very interesting viewing experience.

The weird title of the film is actually inspired by the story of Mahmud of Ghazni, an ancient Afghan ruler who became the first Muslim invader of India. This person was so persistent in invading, that he continued trying despite several failed attempts. Succeeding in later campaigns, he became a symbol for perseverance (or simply attacking until the job got done) akin to our protagonist; also in relentless pursuit…

The well-pitched film works for three key reasons, the first being excellent production values including slick direction, sharp editing, visually arresting cinematography and an engaging score (A R Rahman, again). The next reason is starlet Asin, who as Kalpana is gorgeous, humorous and all too endearing in this incarnation; the reason Aamir’s character falls for her is the same reason we do too. The ultimate reason for Ghajini ‘working’ is Aamir Khan (Lagaan, Rang De Basanti) who is simply phenomenal as both the savvy company director and wounded lover on a rampage.

Aamir is an actor that has always pushed the envelope as far as qualitative, intelligent, and meaningful cinema goes. In this instance he has let the superstar take lead over the actor, with star power / charisma / presence completely overshadowing the story, as the juggernaut of PR has also shown. His penchant for perfectionism and ‘living the role’ is legendary. With a buffed up, eight-pack (yup, count ’em) body here for the later version of Sanjay, you have little doubt of him as the brutal killer in a murderous rage.

As he explodes with grief and then just as quickly forgets it, it’s touching, emotional, and all too believable. Think amnesia on steroids, via Lee Strasberg. A memorable performance in an interesting, albeit at times clichéd movie. It has already taken one billion rupees in less than a week of release. Having broken all box office records, it’s now officially India’s biggest grossing film of all time, and in my humble opinion – well worth a dekko.

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