Ghajini – A Review

For the first time, I saw a movie being touted as a Hollywood remake not being anywhere close to the ‘original’. And for another first, I actually wished it was a blatant copy, not an ‘original’. Of course, in Bollywood terminology, a frame-by-frame reconstruction is a remake, but if you pick up 3-4 good Angrezi films and make a messy cocktail, well that’s ORIGINAL. So there it was, a drop of Memento (just a drop, mind you), a bit of The Butterfly Effect, with a large serving of THE HULK. Add some good old Rajni-style action for some desi tadka, and that’s Ghajini for you!

So there’s this medical kaalij Professor assigning projects to final year students, but he wouldn’t let Nishabd girl Jiah Khan take the “short-term memory loss” patient (apparently the term “anterograde amnesia” is not good enough for a final year medical student researching neuroscience). Anyways, her heart yearns to know this guy, and next thing she knows, she bumps into him by pure chance. Knowing his past was a cakewalk using his journals. Oh did I miss the journals part.

Chairman/ Managing Director/ CEO/ Maalik (terms used interchangeably) of India’s largest telecom company, and very conveniently one of the world’s largest as well, with firangi execs scampering around like pooches, this multi-billionaire returns from the States and goes to office dressed in tight body-hugging almost-cut-sleeved office wear (now that’s corporate muscle-flexing). And like all good Harvard-bred Chairmen/MDs/CEOs/Maaliks, he maintains a regular journal in Hindi, on his affair with his oh-so-simple & ah-so-gentle goody-goody girlfriend. And while this Sridevi 2.0 (or make that 1.0) helps blind-old-baba cross the street while giving him complete and colourful descriptions of the kids playing and wives beating their husbands along the way (she guessed it compensates blindness), she’s all over the mass-media falsely telling the world she’s in [mutually] love with the tycoon. The catch here is that neither she nor anyone else in the country has seen a picture of Mr.Rich-n-Famous or have any idea what he looks like. Oh, and about the journal, no hindi Romaantick diary is complete without shayari, and no reading of the diary complete without a bit of dancing around the trees with a whole bunch of colour-coded extras (dance routines which also serve as an additional showcase for that elusive 8-pack and the bulging biceps). But there’s another side of the eight pack..uh… story as well. The Diary stops right before Mr.Eligible-8-pack-Bachelor turns into the hulk.

Didn’t I tell you about the Hulk? Man, this anterograde amnesia short term memory loss thing is getting to me. Anyways, the rich-guy-poor-girl candy floss love story gets all bitter and really f***ed up with the girl getting brutally killed and the guy getting amnesiacally injured by this Haryanvi gentleman, Ghajini (hardly a spoiler; this is revealed at the beginning). Against all expectations, Ghajini’s a minor character in the movie, and played by a [deservingly] unknown face. Don’t blame Amir for using that for a title, it’s a remake after all. Mr. Ghajini also happens to be a Chairman/MD/Maalik of a pharmaceutical company (again very conveniently one of India’s biggest) and comes complete with a whole ensemble of skull-cap donning body guards.

So while Ghajini moves around attending college fests and trading kidneys, our bhoolne-ki-bimaari patient brandishes his injury on his head and goes all the way eight-packing to avenge his fiancé’s death, armed with pecs and abs and a Polaroid camera (complete with a beep every 15 mins) and notes and tattoos… Wait, tattoos?

But why the tattoos? To remind him every morning of all that stuff that he can’t remember? Hmm… But he lives at his own home, which is full of post-it notes and helpful graffiti anyway. Maybe it’s just not the text, but rather looking at all that meat on which it’s imprinted that makes Mr.Mutton-ki-dukaan go into The Hulk mode. Anyway, don’t blame Amir. It’s a remake, remember. So what if the tattoos actually served a purpose in Memento. And unlike Memento, our avenger does not visit the local tattoo artist, and saves on his money in these difficult times by keeping a tattoo gun home. He’s obviously trained himself to tattoo on his chest and arms and legs all by himself.

So here’s our Hulk roaming around the city looking all over for… his own house at times, travelling in auto rickshaws and buses, in malls and jewellery shops, all the time looking helpless and confused, but at the same time ceremonially beating his breasts and pumping his breath furiously to keep the fire of revenge burning. There’s the medical student to help him (whom he, by the way, almost murdered once, not that he’d remember that) track the G-guy, and keep reminding him of his mission. She understood the whole story by herself from the journals and newspaper archives (Man, why didn’t the police think of that. Everything was there in the old newspapers to solve the murder mystery.), which also helped our avenger re-learn his own story (à la The Butterfly effect). The 15-minute memory span conveniently vanishes during such times. It of course, reappears mid-fights, when our guy doesn’t know why all these goons are piled around him like used polythene bags.

So while Amir throws around 15-20 goons at the same time, attacking them with bathroom fittings (At one point, he’s confused to see this tap sticking out from this guy’s tummy, only to turn it on and see blood flow. But damn the Censor Board!), the fight sometimes has to be choreographed by the to-be-doctorni. The fight sequences are doubtlessly Rajnikant inspired, and some of the old-school Bollywood dhishoom-dhishoom makes its way into the movie as well, mostly providing comic relief. But that sariya going through the navel, that’s gotta damage the picturesque eight-pack. Well, you win some, you lose some…

Till now everything you’ve seen is oh-so-bollywood-ishtyle, that even if I don’t tell you whether it’s a happy ending or not, you know it already. As for me, I was just happy it ended.
Maybe I’m biased in my opinion for having watched that masterpiece of a motion picture, Memento. Anyway, even ignoring the unique non-linear narrative of the cult film, Ghajini does not even remotely touch on the themes of memory, perception, grief, self-deception or reality the way Memento does. While the screenplay writer’s wildly swerving train of thought does seem to flirt with scientific coherence briefly, it may just be considered a chance event. The amnesia switches on/off as and when convenient. By the way, Memento has been cited by prominent medical experts as one of the most realistic and accurate depictions of amnesia in popular media and is recommended by neuroscience researchers to those interested in exploring the neurobiology of memory.

Anyway, I am still pretty sure this movie will do well in the first couple of weeks, and will probably be declared a hit. In case it doesn’t, there’s always the recession-excuse for the producers to cushion the fall. I am an ardent admirer of Amir, but the perfectionism is reflected not in the content but only in the marketing of Ghajini. Look who’s using the brand name now.

My advice to you: if you are planning to watch Ghajini, well, don’t. Run to your nearest DVD-rental shop and get a copy of Memento for the weekend. Or, contact your nearest IITian for another cult classic, Gunda.

  • Rajat

    Hey Shrey!I got here for the first time, through IndiBlogger. And my first impression? You have an <>awesome<> blog. Keep it up!So you saw Ghajini, eh? And that too a <>paid preview!<> Dude, you’ve got guts! 😛You know <>why<> Ghajini is not Memento? Because a typical Indian Film Producer cannot take the risk of bewildering the audience. Memento’s <>non-linear narrative<> served a purpose. Alas! Such purposes are not to be served by Bollywood films. As you say, Ghajini might be declared a hit. Why? <>Kyunki ismein action hai, drama hai…<> blah blah blah! This is India, <>aur yahaan yehi sab chlta hai<> :)By the way, thanks for saving my 150 bucks. I’m not watching it now for sure!

  • Nisha

    I think its a brilliant movie:

  • Surya Teja

    Hey shrey……..U are an awesome blogger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • Kaber

    Ha ha.. the tamil version was no better. But come on man, which is more colourful, memento or ghajini. I’ve seen memento and the tamil version – seems like the plot hasn’t changed. will catch up on aamir’s version none the less. i felt (in the tamil v) that the romance part was the best. rest of the moive typical masala.speaking of rajini kanth check < HREF="" REL="nofollow">this<> out

  • kamal kannan

    hmm…another self proclaimed genius reviewer..lols!I loved the movie!Nice way to get comments…

  • obssesor

    You know whenever anything releases with SUCH hype,it bites the dust! good review though…

  • Anonymous

    Owner of this blog purposely creates bad side of movie so that maximum people comment on his shitty blog.

  • Jaydev Adhikari

    HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!! I am laughing my fuckin ass off after reading this review…really man, I loved your review, I am a big fan of Aamir and I too was terribly disappointed and SHOCKED by this bullshit movie. I know two kind of people who would love this movie:-1. HARDCORE fans of Aamir, who would love the movie no matter what.2. People who do not like sensible movies but like masala movies with no sense and think that useless action, silly romance, goody image heroine and eight pack abs make an “excellent” movie.But to be honest, Aamir has lost the plot this time, I knew Ghajini was no Memonto as Indian audience would not be able to understand it but I thought that atleast some thought would go into the entire concept of short term memory loss but the concept was hardly worked upon in Ghajini, the movie was basicaly a romantic turned revenge film with south style stupid action. By the way, talking about short term memory loss, I dont understand how come Aamir’s character does not remember his building or his manager and all, he had short term memory loss…right?? So why was his long term memory effected?? He should remember his past, short term memory loss does not let the patient create new memories, its not amnesia, when you forget your past. Not to mention, at the end, reading the diary and archived newspapers and trusting a girl, whom he just met was enough to remind him everything and later on, just the word” GHAJINI” reminds him everything.I think Aamir saw the final outcome of this movie and knew he has got it wrong this time and thats why he has thrown all his effrts to marketing and PR tacticts(which includes buying reviewers like Taran Aadarsh, who went just OVERBOARD by saying stuff like its “masterpiece” “blockbuster” “unbelieveable” and crap like that). So that atleast the first 2 weeks can make him as much money as he can…Anyway KUDOS to the reviwers here….GREAT CRITIC

  • Saket

    Hey!! Whatever u say!I am still gonna watch the movie!! Guess, being a fan, I can’t stop myself from doing that!!

  • Samar R P

    watched ghajini with friends…but you will agree shrey…watching a no good movie with friends increases the movies entertainment flux a hell lot more.I enjoyed it… only because it was pure bollywood gibberish.

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  • Protik Roychowdhury

    As I have always maintained, at no level can any director match the greatness which Mr. Kanti Shah achieved with his cult classic, Gunda. No director can ever come close to achieving that level of mastery over his craft. Similarly, no movie is a match to GUNDA.All hail GUNDA !!! :)

  • Anonymous

    I disagree completely. Good writing skills , that’s it. Rest , the review is just a reflection of the very-in pseudo-intellect. Sorry but that’s what I gathered from this “review” of yours.

  • Shrey

    This reviews been out for around 48 hours, and has gathered more than its fair share of responses. Thank you everyone.@Rajat, Surya, Jaydev, obsessor, Protik: Thanks for providing a clear picture, and of course, for agreeing with me. 😉@Nisha, Kaber, Kamal, Saket, Samar: Thank you for voicing your true opinion on my review, even if it was in disagreement with/different from your own. Its people like you that make Blogosphere worth living. Though I’d like to point it out to Kamal, I’m no genius (self-proclaimed or otherwise), and neither was my sole objective of writing this review to attract comments.@The Trolls/Anonymous commenters: May God give you the brains to think before you write, and the balls to sign off with your name.Again, I never claimed I was an intellectual (pseudo- or otherwise).I agree with the fact that I should never have expected Ghajini to be as phenomenal as Memento, and besides, it had to be a bit colourful for Indian audiences. The problem is, I was expecting Aamir to pull it off.Anyways, those of you that think I should not look at a movie seeking factual/technical correctness and logical coherence, and should just enjoy it cause its entertaining (reminds me of < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Gunda<>), I would ask those people to look at my review in the same light. Even if you think its pseudo intellect and colourful rubbish and flimsy word play and what-not… isn’t that what bollywood is all about… what Ghajini is for you… atleast my “review” entertained you.Infact, many would agree, its more entertaining than Ghajini itself. :)< HREF="" REL="nofollow">Peace…<>

  • NV Girish

    Interesting…. Frankly after watching BE and memento I was never gonna watch Ghajini coz I expect ORIGINAL films out of aamir…So I did what was better for me and probably everyone read Mr. Shrey’s review. 😉

  • yosago

    so shrey.nice review, i think you stated your view on this movie pretty clearly.i am not avid watcher of bollywood flicks (though you probably knew that from my state of location) and neither am i an ardent fan of Amir Khan’s movies or the HULK(i guess the whole brute thing did not suit me) anyways after reading this review i think i might look into watching this.not to piss you off or anything (Oh dear why would i or anyone want to do that) but just to see a movie that is based of of something that was american.shiti was going to stay some more stuff but my mom just walked into my room and i now have the memory of a gold fish after all the partying i have been doing so i forgot where i was going with thisi dont know what it was but just reading your piece made me want to watch this movie i think like what happened was, when you messaged me telling me you have wrote this review and it being a bollywood movie all of my background knowledge of bollywood movies came into my head. (being cheesy films lasting more than 2 hours, which have 6 songs, 1 good one that gets stuck in your head and atleast one “hero”)now its likethe american movie the hulk is nothing like that so what is bollywood going to doso know be just being my haphazard write well.[comments on my comments are more than required!]

  • swaty gupta

    Hahaha.. I enjoyed your review. I don’t care much about the movie.. It takes three hours to watch Bollywood flicks.. I’d rather spend 10 mins reading this.

  • Anonymous

    Since you had all the balls to write a very entertaining essay on the film , I wasn’t left with any to put my name, dude. As I said I like your writing skills but do not agree with the review…And I said the review had a ‘pseudo-intellectual’ feel to it. So , learn to take brickbats with the bouquets…some will like your review , some will not. Whether I put my name or not makes no difference….If you had the very basic civil sense of asking my name without getting into ‘ball business’ , I would have told you. You are a good writer…..pick up some sense of humour and manners too from somewhere , if you can….Adios and God bless you….

  • Imran Alam

    Well I love the Hinglish masala-mix in the article but I’m afraid I’m less than qualified to comment on the flick because I haven’t seen it and after reading what you’ve written don’t think ever will- but I can still say I was pretty amused at the comparison with Hulk, even though nothing can be built out of nothing and a film can’t be made without any influences, and the meaning we would assign to any film itself depends on our influences and prejudices(meaning is solely dependent on isomorphic comparison to something already well-defined because at the core, everything is meaningless(an interesting idea, for more try reading ‘Godel, Escher, Bach’ by Houfstradder)),so I believe ‘originality’ as an ascribable attribute in today’s postmodern intertextual pop-culture is very debatable- hence my criteria for judging any work of art is simple- if I like it and it instigates some interesting thought that I can mull over, I like the work, just like I like yours. Huh! One of the longest sentences I have ever concocted! Dying to get back at KGP, for now! later days. Excelsior!

  • Ameya

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Ameya

    i have seen memento and it was the most complicated movie i have ever obviously by no means ghajini would be a xerox copy of it.If ever one has to make a movie masterpiece by no means it should be masala movie.But bollywood is 2 adamant to change this mentality and so here comes ghajini in accordance with it.i need not give my whole point of view abt story,the above post have depicted thembut one thing i would like to point out isy the hell last half hour made like this?but one thing if u notice not only from thsi bolg but over all 2mostly all girls liked the moviebut boys had a different opinion

  • VIX ~

    gr8 work dude….u knw what these days i m going thr the best of the things….after watching awesome ghajini comes ur suberb blog….keep writing

  • Gautam Ghosh

    guess we’ve agreed to differ. I agree that the movie isn’t logical – which Hindi movie is – but it’s great to see it for Aamir and Asin’s acting talent – take the hospital room where Sanjay Singhania sits serenely, and Jiah Khan hands him the diary – without a cut in the shot his expressions move from serenity to rage. I thought that was brilliant, and worth each paisa of my ticket money :-)

  • DJ

    Hey shrey, well man you can write well. Period.Your review is way off the mark(its not exactly a review mind u, its a summary). Memento may have been osm, havent seen it though, but aamir and co. have puled off ghajini damn well. all the flaws you mentioned merely took your notice coz you wanted to notice them. Pay a little more attenion to the movie and you’ll get your misgivings leared.

  • venkat

    hey shrey,i partly agree with ur review…but a film cant be judged bad just because the no of drawbacks are more than the postives in the film….sometimes, those less no of positives can leave a strong impression and make the people like that movie. This film ghajini comes under this category…Yes there r lot of flaws in the film but i think still it is worth watchable and becoming a hit, because of the strong performances of Aamir and asin… particularly ASIN. who is this new girl? where is she from? Wow…what an acting…she is mindblowing in the film.. i request readers atleast watch the film for Asin…we need those kind of actresses and we should encourage her….surely she would become one of the altime beautiful and great actresses

  • Anonymous

    you liked rab ne better than ghjini? And you’re writing such a smart ass review? riiiiggghhht.

  • Koodude

    i agree with dude……And i too have a point of view on that one….you can check my review on: leave your comments about it dude!!!!

  • incognito

    guess all “intellectuals” choose to remain anonymous, while the “pseudo-intellects” go about writing reviews… 😛

  • Rules of Destiny

    nice one man..wel researched n well said….

  • liku

    .haeyyy…i like A.R.Rahman’s BGMs and Songs in thiz movie …hatz off 2 Rahmanji…Kaise mughe song with Lady Hummig made me imotional..really touching…and Aamir /Asin rockzzz…am not really a fan of Aamir but am Akshay's fan..and i enjayd the move well…i feel Jaydev's comment so rubbish…sorry

  • Blogxploitation

    Nice review.
    Ghajini remains the worst Aamir Khan movie ever.

  • Azel

    God only knows how I ended up here, well, and it is a couple of years too late, but it was Nostalgia at its best (worst?). Each and everything I felt, and went through has been put down in text by you, Kudos to you. To add insult to injury, I had seen Memento just the day before I went through the G-trauma. You can only attempt to imagine, how bad that can be. Also, read a few comments, Anonymous guy/girl sure is funny in the whole attempt at righteousness/viciousness 😀
    Happy writing, you seem to write A LOT. =)

  • Shrey

    @Azel My thanks and sympathies to you 😀

    I assume you found my link on Palkush's Blog; glad you liked it.

  • Azel

    This comment has been removed by the author.