Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ghajini

Identical twins separated at birth and reunited by happenstance, loss of memory and the cascading (and ballooning) effects of a small misunderstanding have been among the most frequently occurring Bollywood story genres. Ghajini is around a sub-genre - a short-term lapse of memory resulting in a full-length movie. In that, it is quite a remarkable achievement.

The few stills and posters of the movie that I had seen online inevitably showed a shirtless, shaved and tattooed Aamir Khan looking violently angry - just the kind of imagery that makes the decision not to watch a movie a no brainer as far as I am concerned. I can think of at least a dozen ways to spend a couple of hours that are infinitely more fun than watching Aamir Khan flaunt his muscles and grimace in rage.

Then desis of all stripes started to urge me to check the movie out until my resistance wore out and I succumbed. The leading lady is the ultimate desi-male dream come true - cute, unselfish, vivacious, Pollyanna, self-sacrificing, cheerful, supremely "family-oriented" and utterly naive. Even her lies are incredibly charming and are told only for the right reasons. In short, she is as perfect as only Bollywood can make the desi-female. Khan goes ahead and falls in love with her as he must if he has even an iota of desi-male in his system.

All the women who come into contact with the hero, do better than best to put themselves in harm's way and sure enough the bad guys come along causing trouble - indeed the survival of the storyline depends entirely on them doing so. The characters are required to make one harebrained choice after the other so the saga of consequences can follow to fill the hours. Which in turn presents the super-human hero the opportunity to take on several dozen armed goons single-handedly (literally as well I might add) and emerge victorious.But all of that is standard Bollywood fare - you are expected to be used to it and just look the other way in the interests of "entertainment".

This movie hinges around the 15 minute store and recall ability of Khan's memory after his head is seriously injured by the aforementioned goons who for no obvious reason don't kill him when the opportunities present themselves. Khan does a good job romancing the utterly "adorable" leading lady while being the unassuming billionaire (though the rolled up shirt-sleeves to put the biceps on permanent display had me a bit mystified) and then becoming this haunted man tormented by memories he is not fully able to recall or process.

But just one strong performer does not make for a great movie. I am still trying to figure out what the desis of my acquaintance saw that I missed about Ghajini.

2 comments:

ggop said...

HC you are very charitable to Asin's character (main heroine)
I could not stand the character's naivety/cutesyness in the Tamil original, I'm pretty sure Amir Khan has remade the movie exactly like the original. It requires a leap of faith.

A lot of these young smart and talented women have more potential. Unfortunately they keep getting typecast as innocent women. You are right - the dream girl of Bollywood isn't Meryl Streep :)

vishal12 said...

I was utterly disappointed by Ghajini - especially because (a) of Amir Khan, and (b) I hold Memento - the original - in such high regard.
.
Comparing the Hindi remake with the Tamil "original", Asin was slightly more tolerable (but not as desirable for a desi man, as you described though), and the protagonist's acting was slightly less exaggerated. But all other flaws of the Tamil version were kept, rather carefully, intact. And that's what pissed me off even more - Murugadoss blowing off the second chance.