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Ghajini (Movie Review)

How do you count eight packs? The question plagues you when you first come at Aamir Khan in his new movie.

Written by Shubhragupta | New Delhi |
December 25, 2008 2:39:47 am

Cast: Aamir Khan, Asin, Jiah Khan, Pradeep Rawat

Director: A R Murugadoss

How do you count eight packs? The question plagues you when you first come at Aamir Khan in his new movie. His rippling musculature has been all the focus, through the past month, in print, in TV, in hoardings. That, and the buzz cut, with deep scars running through, showing the scalp. This is an Aamir we haven’t seen before—fronting a frame filling physique, flaunting matter over mind.

If you had 15 minutes of memory, what would you cram into that terrifyingly short span? The name of your loved one, your phone number, your home? If you were a regular joe, that’s exactly what you’d do, but if you are Aamir Khan in ‘Ghajini’, you would bulk up your body, tattoo the name of the man you need to kill, and smear your walls with violent graffiti.

Short term memory loss means you forget, everything, within a short span of time. And the moment you get back into the zone, re-building the pieces of your life, the clock starts ticking again, for the next meltdown. It’s a fascinating premise for a movie, and a few years ago, ‘Memento’, made by Christopher Nolan, gave us a unique hero who suffers from short haul amnesia, while he searches for his beloved’s killer.

In 2005, the Tamil ‘Ghajini’, inspired by ‘Memento’, catapulted the till-then-on-the-fringes lead pair of Surya and Asin into the frontlines, and turned out to be a monster hit.

Aamir Khan’s first film this year, is a faithful remake of the Tamil film (with a lot of the original crew , including the director) barring a couple of twists in the climax. It has Aamir doing an out-and-out actioner after a long time (‘Sarfarosh’ in 1999 was the last time he went around brandishing guns and decimating baddies). It also has him bare-chested for a lot of the running time, because he needs to display his impressively muscled frame. So is it all good?

Not really, no. The thing with doing a film like this is that you have to completely get with the flow of the film, and here Aamir is split down the middle. When he’s Sanjay Singhania, the billionaire boy friend of wannabe celeb Kalpana (Asin), pretending to be a broke model himself, to insinuate himself into her good books, he’s just fine.

The sequence in which he first sees her help a bunch of disabled kids and loses his iron-clad heart to her, is a winner. So are a few others: how many impossibly wealthy men carry ‘chutta’ to give the ‘pani puri wala’? He flips him his platinum card, and we crack a smile, as we are meant to.

And then the transformation from smooth urbane tycoon, to the damaged violent guy happens, and the film starts to stutter. Not because Aamir doesn’t try hard. He goes at this one with just as much effort as he does in his others, but he doesn’t fill out this part with as much conviction. It’s all his fault— he shouldn’t have done films like ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Taare Zameen Par’, in which he coasted on his cerebral appeal. He just doesn’t look the part of a man who can pulp other humans with his bare hands, despite the wild grimaces and the angry howls.

The maximum fun is had by Asin, nicely curved and rounded, very far from unreal size zeroes, making her Hindi cinema debut. She plays pretty much the same role as she did in the original– loud, warm, emotional, and is the best part of the movie, but even she can’t liven up the pallid songs-and-dances. Third lead Jiah Khan, the medical student who studies the amnesiac and ends up first hindering then helping him, is a total loss– she has to speak Hindi and do an item number, and both are beyond her. The villain (Pradeep Rawat) looks like he’s a bit part stretched into something he can’t quite handle: is he the only one they could find?

Too long, at three hours and some. Too violent. The bad guy goes around wielding a rusted iron jack and bashing peoples’ heads in. And so not Aamir: ‘Ghajini’ is engaging, only intermittently. Can we please have our old Aamir, the actor-star who’s taught present-day mainstream Bollywood to think, back again?

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