Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Arrogance, Confidence & Pure Entertainment

“There is a very little difference between arrogance and confidence -‘I can’ do it is confidence and ‘Only I’ can do it is arrogance” – Aamir Khan (quote from Ghajini)

SRK and Akshay Kumar consider only themselves as entertainers and no one else. That’s arrogance. Aamir by doing a Ghajini showed them that he too can do a mindless blockbuster entertainer. That’s confidence. And what a confidence - he has just “rub”bed the “King” the wrong way.

In all his pre-release interviews Aamir Khan had clearly stated that the audience, who has become used to his “Hatke” and intelligent movies, will be surprised to find him doing a complete masala entertainer. Yet the critics reviewed the movie as though Ghajini was an intelligent movie. It is not. It was never meant to be. It’s a film which ensures total entertainment for the 3 hours. Hence it was discomforting to read reviews of veteran reviewers like Khalid Mohammed & company who have ripped apart the movie and these are the same reviewers who finds films like Om Shanti Om and Rab Ne…good enough for a three / four star rating. Such double standards.

Though Ghajini is a mindless entertainer, it does not imply that the movie is dumb and unaware because the film caters to everyone amongst us, including the lowest commonest denominator, not because it doesn’t know better, but because it chooses to.

The other aspect of Ghajini that the critics are going bonkers is with the comparison with “Memento”. The only similarity between those two movies is that the lead character has short-term memory loss and remembers things via tattoos, photographs etc. The critics should know that an exact copy of Memento would not have rejected by the Indian audience. While adapting the basic premise of the memory loss, the director has created a legible variant, which has to be appreciated. Some cynics screamed that Ghajini does not have the non-linear film-making aspect of a classic like Memento. Why confuse the audience like Memento had done, particularly if the filmmakers’ intention is only to entertain. The same audience who wanted this non-linear shit is the one that had rejected a movie like Chocolate. Yes, the gimmick worked in Rang De Basanti. But Ghajini was not meant to be a classic or intellectual movie but an entertainer. And I bet that those who are talking about Memento now must have never heard about this movie till Ghajini was announced a year ago.

The movie moves back and forth in time, as it juxtaposes an effervescent romance in the past against a brutalized, spaced-out present. Aamir’s violent acts are not justified but you are made to see the reasons for his actions considering his past life. The film is riddled with logical loopholes but the director doesn’t give you enough time to think about them with his strong narration style. The gripping screenplay makes you want to know more about Aamir’s tribulations. Watching Aamir grapple with his 15 minute memory span makes for an engaging watch.


The scene where Aamir puts all his things – guns, mobile, wallet into their proper places courtesy the notes and sleeps and gets up and walks into the bathroom clueless and sees the note of “open your shirt” and opens it and sees all his tattoos and burns in rage. This brought out the psychological and emotional state of Aamir.

The scene where Jiah Khan requests for a conversation with Aamir in the canteen. She jots down whatever Aamir says. Notice the irony out here – what is the difference between Jiah and Aamir. He notes down on his body, and she on her notepad. Memory is unreliable.

The scene where Aamir has to witness Asin’s brutal murder was heart wrenching. The audience drew a collective gasp when Asin gets killed.

The action sequence in the climax that is cheerful in its gratuitous violence and enjoyable too. And the chase he gives to the villain along a narrow path flanked by houses – a labrynth - brings out the claustrophobic feel of the space - the way it mirrored the road to Ghajini that was built and broken thousand times in Sanjay’s mind.

The crucial pre-climax sequence where Aamir Khan is lying in the hospital confused and lost after his life-saving tattoos and clues and pictures have been destroyed and the consequent Aamir’s outburst.

Asin’s compassionate nature is brought out through creatively written scenes. Watch her help the handicapped children enter the museum gate and then help a blind man walk to his stop all along informing of the happenings on the street.

And some beautiful nuggets like - Aamir trying to recognise Jiah by her rapid breathing after the chase. A robotic Sanjay beating up a bad guy in cyborg-ish style, Aamir visiting Asin’s boss’s party, the climax where Aamir for a moment forgets what he is fighting for when he comes face to face with Ghajini.

The romantic track involving a tycoon-in-guise-of-common man and a model-in-guise-of-tycoon’s girlfriend does not water down the impact of this action film. It has humour and sweetness. It is this portion that endears the film to the audience and lends the surrounding violence some poignancy and beauty and touches you. You feel the pain of Asin when Aamir informs that he will out of India for 10 days, you have a lump in the throat while watching the scene where Asin hands him money, you want Kalpana to know that Sanjay is indeed a rich businessman before she dies.

Given the unfortunate events, the violence is justified. Even family audiences and children won’t mind it. What sets apart the action from the “Sunny Deol” Rajnikant” type is the total absence of dialogues and the smart camera work.

A R Rahman is in full form in Guzarish, Kaise Mujhe and Bekha. Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics though are a bit of let down. Excellent cinematography (Ravi K Chandran) and tremendous sound (Resul) take the film to a higher level. Action by Peter Hains and Stunt Shiva keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The flaws the critics are so vocal about:
“How come no one recognizes the chairman of a big cellular company?” - Oh yeah, and a common man can recognize the chairman of Airtel, Vodafone, etc. in person?

“The rich boy – poor girl love story has been witnessed umpteen times in Hindi movies”. Really! And what about movies like KKHH, DDLJ, DTPH, etc that were seen umpteen times.

“Asin pretending to be super-rich Aamir’s girl friend” - Haven’t we come across so many incidents in real life too – A woman going public that she is SRK’s mother, or a model claiming to be wife of Abhishek Bachchan, etc. So why do you think there is no logic in what Asin does. Moreover, after a point she herself confesses to Aamir (Sachin) about the lie.

“A google search by Asin would have given her the information about Aamir’s indentity” - But why would she want to know about Aamir when all she wants is to take advantage of the misunderstanding of her employer.

“Ghajini doesn’t have a gun in the climax? – Why not assume that he must have forgotten to carry.

“Why was 8 pack needed by Aamir in this movie?” Oh Yeah, and those 6 packs of SRK were so critical to the story of OSO, right dear critics?

And what the villian has to do with pharma industry? Don’t we have real life thugs who are into while collared business but are goons in the sly?

If you critics can go on, so can I.

What I would have liked to see in the movie
Interesting complications like all Aamir’s clues being destroyed are resolved in simple ways.The movie could have taken a better path rather than boil down to the climax.

It would have interesting to know how Aamir transformed from a suave tycoon to a revenge-seeking person.


Asin impresses in her debut and though she goes a little overboard in comic scenes she makes it up by acting brilliantly in the second half when she acts serious. When she is scared, we are scared for her too. When she helps a few kids glide past an obstacle or helps a blind man her generosity feels straight from almighty.

Aamir pushes the envelope all the time. There isn’t much of dialogue for him but his well-toned physique, facial expressions and body language does all the talking. Aamir adds his own touch to both the humorous and the intense portions of the film. A rich business man, a lover boy and a short-term memory loss patient - Aamir is absolutely convincing in all the roles.

Pradeep Rawat and Jiah Khan are strictly okay.

Before the films release, Aamir had said that if people walk out with his 8 pack abs in mind, then the movie has failed to connect. But thankfully the audience did not talk about Aamir’s physique but the movie. So the movie did connect with the audience.

Ghajini has two tones, primarily. One that shows Sanjay locked in the grim darkness of his revenge, where the word Ghajini is driving him and the other where the film ends up locking Sanjay in. That might as well be heaven, where he is locked with the divine Asin, and love is guiding him.

Don’t ask serious questions about rationale and you won’t get any wrong answers in this movie. Just sit back and relax and enjoy the great entertainer of 2008.

Finally, the only time the audience hated Aamir in the movie was when he leaves his cell phone in the car when Asin calls for help. If this does not convince the critics that the movie connected with the audience. Nothing will. Not even the record breaking historical Box Office collections !

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

View from Outside India

This post is NOT by K

For the last few days, most of us have experienced a cocktail of emotions. I have experienced pure rage.

The Australian media (which is where I live) made a mockery out of India since Thursday, when the news of the attacks first made the papers. India was called a nation ‘far from developed’, unsafe and under constant threat from external elements or internal religious fanatics. And I had nothing to say in retaliation.

In Mumbai, there is anger, grief, frustration and most importantly a sense of ‘now what?’. Some have suggested starting a youth political party, some want to anyhow hold politicians accountable, some want a formal apology from Raj Thackeray and some just want to bomb the living daylights out of Pakistan. All valid suggestions. While you’re at it, I say bomb Bangladesh too. After all, the sim cards and fake IDs were made there.

But then what? There is a lot being discussed about what can be done by us. Here’s my 2 bit; adding to some very good points made by K. These are suggestions that I haven’t heard in the last few days.

As K pointed out, there is an election next year. Let’s vote wisely. I am not saying we should elect a Hindu fanatic govt. But let’s elect someone with balls. Let’s not elect a govt that only wants to be a key ally of Western powers and constantly seek approval from the global community; too afraid of the diplomatic consequences of necessary military action.

Let’s also tell our maids, drivers, office boys and peons to vote wisely and not be swayed by blankets and food packets. Let them pass this message on to relatives in the village. It won’t work each time, but the ones that listen might make a significant difference.

Let’s also start rebuilding the city and its spirit with small, random acts of courage and tolerance. Let’s not pull a face when Bandra station comes to a standstill for Friday Namaaz. There are orphanages all across the city. Let’s spare an hour a month to give these kids some semblance of a happy childhood, so they don’t grow up to be brainwashed into senseless violence. Let’s begin to fulfill our moral duties as citizens. Report suspicious activity. Something tragic can be avoided if the cops even listen to half of our reports.

And most importantly, let’s not forget this day. Let’s not forget what happened. Let’s not forget the people who died. Let’s remember it everyday, remind our leaders of it everyday and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Mumbai is a person that looked after us as we were growing up. It now desperately needs our care and undivided attention in light of what it has faced last week. Let’s come together and protect it.

Posted by G

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