By now the whole world and their unborn children know Ghajini has traces of Memento and is a remake of a Tamil blockbuster of the same name.
Frankly, my dear it doesn't make any difference. People will throng to see it anyway. Some to confirm their suspicions. Others because they enjoyed the Tamil version. Still others because they simply want to see the film and have voluntarily injected themselves with a three hour and 15 minutes-long state of anterograde amnesia to avoid comparisons.
Now, I've never shied away from the fact that I am super excited about watching Ghajini. Finally, I've seen it. And at risk of evoking Christopher Nolan's wrath, I am quite pleased to announce I liked what I saw.
Director AR Murugadoss's taut thriller is a sleek album of dark memories, which are terrifying to relive and shattering to experience.
Raw rage transforms Aamir Khan's Sanjay Singhania into a wild animal, a prosthetic-free creature with Spock ears, a furless King Kong who will show aggression at anyone that appears remotely threatening. At first the extremity of his actions leaves you bewildered, a condition he, too, finds himself in, almost immediately after every assault.
Moreover, when you see the actor in all his 8-packs glory, masked in numerous tattoos of random locations and numbers, the reaction is not that of admiration but of horror. The idea, after all, is not to glorify Aamir's painful work-out sessions but to act as a tell-tale saga of a strangely-behaving individual who's been through something terribly tragic.
Ultimately Ghajini builds up steadily towards the flashbacks of this unknown catastrophe, its impact heightened to such extent, it leaves you numb and cold with gripping tension.
This is also the only time Ghajini takes a weak approach in terms of narrative.
Considering the whole Kill Ghajini: Volume 1 (& Only) revolves around this mysterious, heartbreaking doom's day, breaking the flashback down into two disjointed halves, to jump back in the action-packed present, not only disrupts the flow of Sanjay and Kalpana's (Asin) smoothly budding romance but also disengages us from Asin's character.
Murugadoss insists on the viewer making additional effort to develop a new rapport with her previously established effervescence and extraordinary kindness, post-interval. The spirited debutant, often reminiscent of a young Revathy, has enough pluck and confidence to get the deed done out of you. And she does.
Unlike most action flicks, wherein heroines are nothing more than glamorous provisions, the ladies of Ghajini are no damsels-in-distress. Instead they are always looking out for the troubled hero. These strong-minded, independent women like to take their chances and don't mind stepping into a messy situation even if it means getting dirty. Speaking of which, Jiah Khan continues to strike as an exquisite and expressive actress. I wish there was more of this intense youngster in this film.
Ghajini isn't the kind of subject that really needs songs. Even so A R Rahman's nifty creations coupled with vibrant, imaginative choreography compel these melodious bouquets to awkwardly squeeze into the proceedings without doing much harm.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of laughs too. The comedy enveloping Sanjay and Kalpana's breezy love story, which involves spoofing commercials, is rather amusing and perfectly in place.
Technically, Ghajini rocks on all fronts. Ravi K Chandran's camerawork works with the efficiency of a chameleon-on-the-move. With the changing mood and momentum of the script, he alters the angles, lighting, contrasts, and accents to view the ensuing madness with palpable dynamism and objectivity. There's a particularly splendid chase sequence in the climax wherein Aamir and Pradeep Rawat (plays the object of contempt with frightening ferocity) sprint through dingy cement crevices, almost like a couple of rodents violently charging in the search of food, Chandran captures it masterfully.
Like Shankar's Nayak, the background score is high-voltage and incredibly dramatic boosting up the volume of violence, which though endurable (even for the faint-hearted) is decidedly visceral, if not 100 per cent gruesome.
Ghajini is, ultimately, a sad film, even if ends on a surprisingly hopeful note. And even if there are flaws, they aren't consistently glaring in your face.
Finally though, Ghajini's greatest strength lies in its leading man -- Aamir Khan. Like he mentions during a conference scene in the film, 'There's a difference between convictions and arrogance.' His performance is dripping with conviction and endless glucose bottles of energy. Even when he's launching punches on men double his height, his body language has enough fervour to break a dozen legs. Khan looks like a man possessed with fury, consumed by unbridled anger and heartbroken beyond repair. His transformation from a articulate tycoon who shares a frame with India's former President (proudly displayed on his cabin wall) to a pitiable lunatic looking to avenge an unseen enemy (again details pasted on a cluttered wall) after every 15 minutes, is rock solid.
Piece of advice: Don't go looking for mementos and souvenirs, you'll have fun. Of the hard-hitting kind, that is.