Death of an actor…
One of the best publicity campaigns in the history of Indian cinema was designed for Ghajini. The anticipation for this film was like none other. Internet movie portals had a glorious December with page-views increasing ten folds each time they mentioned the word Ghajini. It was as if there was something magical about the word, that made people leave anything they were doing and lap up gossip, information, sneak peeks, pictures and trailers of the film. Brand partners of the film – Van Heusen, Tata Sky and Samsung too got a piece of the pie and pushed their products through their star – the one, the only Aamir Khan. His newly worked out look, the eight-pack that defeated Shah Rukh’s measly six-pack was the headliner at dinner-table conversations. The two girls of the film were royally ignored and no one minded that. The director was ignored and no one minded that either. After all, how many directors are there who are willing to tell the same, stolen, stale story twice. While we were busy giving ourselves embarrassed sighs over the dominance of remakes of Hollywood films, we didn’t see a more sinister trend coming up –remake of a remake of a remake. Plato and his Republic died all over again.
A R Murugadoss made the first attempt at copying Christoper Nolan’s Memento in 2005 with the Tamil Ghajini starring Surya Sivakumar, Asin and Pradeep Rawat. The version we see today has the same cast with the exception of Aamir Khan who has replaced Surya Shivakumar and Jiah Khan who has replaced Nayantara.
The story is of a man whose fiancé was killed and he was given a massive blow on the head that lead to short term memory loss. He plans to kill the killer, which is not an ordinary task given his 15-minute memory span. He makes notes and takes photos of things and people to remind himself of his agenda.
It’s a unique storyline, but the kind whose novelty wears off after the first time (which was Memento). The Aamir Khan starrer, being the third, has nothing new to offer and is therefore little more than a miserable copy. A film like this, which has a weak storyline does the predictable – and tries over the top methods of populating itself. Unnecessary and graphic violence was the means by which Murugadoss chose to overcome this lack. His characters were weak and poorly defined, take Ghajini for instance, an actor who hails from the South was forced to adopt a Harayanvi accent, something that he was ill at ease with and something that did not gel with his appearance at all, especially given that he slipped out of it every now and again (I wouldn’t call that perfection, would you?). He was clearly a man of influence, even publicly, but what exactly his profession was, was undefined. He attended college functions as the chief guest but also made regular appearances to kill people – personally.
The real disappointment is however, Aamir’s character – Sanjay Singhania. Unfortunately, the director and the writers haven’t quite figured out for themselves the stand they want to take about short term memory loss. His 15 minute memory span expands and compresses as per need of the moment. He can be in an act and not remember why but also reach from one end of Mumbai to the next without any memory loss problems. Continuity and logic have taken the toll badly in this film. There is an interesting moment in the film when we see the renewed shock of Kalpana’s (Asin) death for Sanjay when he takes his shirt off and reads the message. But Aamir Khan gets so busy showing off his body and admiring it himself that few would be fooled into believing he is reading devastating messages. His disorder is mixed up with bouts of madness (for people like him it seems it’s the same thing) as he lives in a state of animal rage. And by animal, I mean real, growling, jumping, snarling type of animal. He goes from making sounds and gestures like dogs, tigers and even King Kong for that matter. Sadly, this is the man who gave us the most incredible portrayal a character ever saw – in Rangeela. Even he, who is widely projected as a perfectionist, never bothered to understand the logistics of short term memory loss and follow at least something consistently. The renewed shock of a man over the murder of his fiancée can be a challenging role, especially if the aim is to prevent it from being run-of-the-mill and repetitive. Instead Aamir chose to snarl to show blind rage. Not novel, not perfect.
Meanwhile, Asin who made a bold statement saying she too is a perfectionist like Aamir, made a forced attempt at a bubbly personality. In her defense, she may have done it well the first time around and lost steam by the second. Anyone who needs to reinstate her ‘jadu ki chhadi’ status repeatedly is surely not confident of her charm and ‘magic’ reaching out to people.
Jiah Khan meanwhile was so badly cast that little else can be said about her. Her weird accent coming and going, her static expression and poor dialogue delivery did not help this crumbling film.
The people may go to the theatres out of sheer curiosity, but that just means the PR people behind this film were brilliant, not the film itself.