Friday, January 16, 2009

Ghajini

Just saw Ghajini, and can't fathom why it's got such bad press. It's the best meat-and-potatoes commercial flick I've seen in ages. It has a great basic gimmick: a protagonist afflicted with short-term memory loss who wants to avenge the killing of his fiancee. The love story, told in flashbacks, gives the movie an emotional core, and also involves many funny situations. The performances are uniformly good, leaning toward over-the-top as you'd expect. Camerawork, pacing, fights, visual effects, sound design are top-notch by Hindi film standards, way better than in Chandni Chowk to China.
On the negative side, the dance numbers with Aamir in them are a bit embarassing. He's definitely too old to be doing that stuff, but you can say that about all the Khans plus Akshay Kumar. A couple of scenes are dreadfully thought out and executed, like one in a train where Asin rescues girls being sold into the sex trade. And the costume designer should've been sacked on day one.
Ghajini's stunning box office has probably been helped by the mood of the country at the moment. Many among those who can afford movie tickets have had vengeance on their mind for the past month and a half.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the list of bad scenes ..
the bongage scene between the policeman and aamir with aamir tied up and both of them flexing their uday chopra-esque muscles

Girish Shahane said...

Yeah, and then the tough policeman runs away with tail between legs! That was weird.
I disagree about the Uday Chopra comparison, though. Chopra has a very bad case of what you see in every gym in India: shoulder stretch marks. They're utterly horrible things. Plus, he tries blue coloured contact lenses. All to try and disguise the essential Uday Chopra, an impossible task.
Aamir's miraculously avoided the stretch marks, or got a very good make-up man.

Shampa said...

Thanks for a post on Ghajini. I thought too that it was a well made flick. two things would have made the movie infinitely better; one, if the dance numbers were omitted; and two, if that trafficking thing had been substituted by something else...i mean people do get killed for other things and that doesnt made the "avenging" any less justified on aamir's part!

Girish Shahane said...

Yup, a little more thought given to the plot would have gone a long way. Overkill is standard operating procedure, unfortunately. The villain is an industrialist and also a trafficker. The girls are not only forced into prostitution, but each has a kidney removed for good measure.
I was amused to see six people credited under 'story discussion' or something like that. Considering the movie is a lift, I wonder what those six, plus the screenplay writer, were doing.
What I liked was that the emotions, even if overdone, felt real: real fear, anger, love. Bollywood seems to have forgotten how to do that in recent times, producing insubstantial fluff like Dostana, Tashan and Singh is Kinng instead. If Indians don't do melodrama, who will?

DS said...

Shoulder stetch marks!! Never heard of or noticed those!And I think will stick with my long term memory of Guy Pearce and watch the Dylan biopic this week instead.

Anonymous said...

as one of my friends said .. "GD pharmaceuticals is a well respected company working in kidney trafficking. As with any modern company with any sense of social responsibility, it re-uses its waste products - in this case for prostitution!"
(it's meant as a harmless joke )

And by uday chopra-esque muscles , I mean muscles that have grown that really shouldn't have grown .. or should be hidden via clothing .. I can understand Aamir having this wayward body as part of the script .. but seriously why have this weird body for the policeman . he was looking like a clown

shakester said...

sorry-really?- 'performances are uniformly good'? The villain, his stooges, the cop, unfathomable Jia...they were all hopeless. Even melodrama is not easily done!

And sure, it has a good basic premise- but it does almost nothing with it! There is so little of the pain and confusion associated with the memory loss for me to see/experience. Halfway through, 'short term memory loss' becomes a one liner for the gastly villain from 1983, and most of the plot a caricature of itself. A terrible disappointment, really.

Girish Shahane said...

I thought the villain and his stooges were exactly what the director wanted them to be. I can't think of a Hindi movie bad guy who has stayed in memory from any film I've watched in the past decade, but I'm pretty sure Ghajini will stick.
If you were interested in an exploration of the pain associated with memory loss, you were obviously in the wrong movie.
I praised Ghajini in the context of a formula. It's not a formula that I'm keen on, but what surprised me, and led to this post, was that critics who have showered idiotic movies like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham with handsome praise should have found so little to appreciate in Ghajini.
Jiah Khan, obviously, could have been much better even within the parameters of the old Hindi film formula :)

shakester said...

I see where you are coming from, but I don't quite get it. if the director was trying to make the Villains cardboard cutouts, silly, and bad adly acted characters, he sure succeeded. Even doing a 'brainless, violent melodramatic' formula requires some skill, which I thought was woefully absent.

I did not expect Memento (re: the pain of memory loss), but merely practically I see very little struggle for the character; the struggle to deal with it and still move toward his goal. A fantastic premise is utterly wasted.

re: critics, you may well be right, I have not read to many critics takes on this.