Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Aamir the Incredulous Hulk

This review is long overdue, largely due to a relatively busy period but also perhaps out of fear of all the die-hard Ghajini fans out there. That the film is a success is no question, what with its status as the biggest hit of 2008; one of the biggest hits of all time; and enough to inspire an actual video game of the same nature. But I’m going to break down for you why I think this is a classic case of much ado about nothing, and thus I will begin with what is wrong with this entire endeavor:

Return of 80s Cinema

Based on a Tamil blockbuster which was in turn inspired by Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, this film takes the serious and intriguing subject of a revengeful man with short-term memory loss piecing together clues to reach his target. Fair enough, except sadly this version lacks logic and consistency.

· Aamir Khan is a suave CEO, cute, charming and little, who strangely dresses like a bodyguard to show off his newfound biceps. We never learn just how he turns into an oversized superhero. Are we meant to believe he really just trained himself in each 15-minute period that he remembers the loss of his ladylove? For that matter, sometimes he forgets in a 15-minute span, and other sequences are so long and drawn out that you know he has exceeded this “15-minute limit” and yet is still going about with what he was doing all along.

· Rich CEO that he is, whose love life is splattered across the tabloids, how did this whole case go unnoticed? His model girlfriend’s death yields no investigation, and Aamir is left to fend for himself? His manager and doctor showing up at his doorstep with pictures of themselves and then leaving is hardly convincing. Would they not check in the time that passes what he is up to, how he is surviving, etc.?

· He is followed around by the biggest dimwit on earth, a “medical student” obnoxiously played by Jiah Khan who is the single dumbest girl you will ever encounter, let alone trust as a future doctor. When she discovers he is plotting against some Ghajini, she picks up the phone and calls Ghajini? Did she forget the part where she learned Aamir’s state is a result of a brutal attack in which he was struck in the head by an iron rod? Instead she mumbles something about being too scared to talk to the police and hence reaches out to Ghajini directly. Yeah…right.

· Aamir, oh Aamir. His physical transformation is incredible, no doubt, but why on earth does he shout, erupt and growl like some sort of maniac at the drop of a hat (namely after being stuck in the hostel)? He is at his best in the flashback scenes playing the besotted and witty rich boy in love with a lower-middle class girl. And before you say he is just doing what he was asked, no director in India tells Aamir Khan how to play a role. Aamir Khan tells the director how he will play a role, and after a long, long time he has missed the boat with this performance.

· Absurd characters: How is it that all the characters are so incredibly one-dimensional and plain stupid? Save for maybe Aamir who is just confused, the other characters make the most idiotic decisions at the most inopportune times. Maybe that’s how they want to build suspense, but it’s no fun watching a plethora of dummies in what is supposed to be a serious film.

· Ghajini, the title character, is some horrible actor who cannot even say a single line appropriately. Naming the film after him is being touted as some incredibly selfless act by Aamir the actor, but that is beside the point. Is this really the best they could find? He apparently played the same role in the Tamil counterpart, but he is simply appalling here.

· A.R. Rahman sure is making us proud out West with one award after the next and hopefully a historical Oscar, but the only track in this enterprise that truly makes a mark is Guzarish. The haunting Kaise Mujhe is a nice effort but not one that makes for easy listening. Both Behka and Aye Bachchu try too hard and are ruined by strange verses.

And now, the few saving graces…

· Aamir, as mentioned, shines in the flashbacks and reminds us of the commercial Aamir of yore. A smitten lover boy with a flair for comical situations. Why he made his plight in the revenge saga so over-the-top is the film’s biggest tragedy.

· Asin – although portrayed as that annoying, do-gooder girl with the heart of gold – is both pretty and endearing enough to set herself up for a commercially viable career. It’s a nice change to see a curvy heroine, even if she is mostly found in ill-fitting clothing. We certainly could have used more of her as opposed to that inane Jiah.

· The love story itself is entirely moving, which is ironic given most critics blame the film’s downfall on the romance. I say the opposite: the love story makes for the actual enjoyment as Aamir is humbled by the lifestyle of the lower-middle class and sees another side to life. The scene where he loses Asin is far more heart-wrenching than any of the illogical proceedings that formulate the revenge angle.

Alas, that’s about all I have in my list. This is no superhero flick, and yet Aamir’s character is made to be far more powerful than Hrithik Roshan’s Krrish could ever aspire to be. Training and muscles notwithstanding, this is the sort of 80s action that sees one punch throw down 10 men, except in this case the hero almost never speaks. He glares and growls, he screams and shouts, but unless he is found by the beach with his sweetheart, he seldom has any lines, much to everyone’s dismay.

Just to point to another example, just look at the difference in how he reacts to Asin's death when it is actually happening versus toward the beginning when he is looking in the mirror. In one, he is so effective, heartbroken, weakened and shedding meaningful tears. In the other, he pulls an Amrish Puri with his eyes, heaves his chest, flares his nostrils and turns into a beast. And this is a 'serious film'?

Verdict? This is a public service announcement to both Aamir and Shahrukh Khan: Different as your most recent films may have been, the similarities in both of your approaches is unmistakable; the two of you are 43-year-old senior actors who have both taken it upon themselves to only appear as a lead in 1 or 2 films a year. Find some actresses your own age and give us a little more than mere timepass.


Prachi Patel said...

I really didn't like this movie. God it was so fan of Asin either. She irritated me to the core....not as much as Jiah Khan and the Ghajini guy.

The only thing I cared for was the music (except Bacchu and the song with Jiah Khan)

Sana Anwar said...

Okay I got your blog open in another window so I can comment on everything. :)

I'm going to say it now. I'm blindly in love with Aamir Khan and everything he does BUT that does not mean I can't find fault in his movies. I just....tend to ignore them as much as possible....

There were definitely some plot holes (the whole buff body that came out of nowhere, the manager/doctor that showed up once every 8 years it seemed) but those are the type of things I kindof forgive. Well not usually since Aamir Khan movies are generally perfection. But in this movie I was willing to overlook them.

Okay the Puerto Rican chick, Jiah Khan or whatever, needs to refrain from acting. And I wanted to kill her character 5 minutes after we were introduced to her.

Yeah the growling was......yeah. But I mean....he growled perfectly. :)

Okay so in the beginning I thought Ghajini was suppose to be comical. LIke, i thought thats what he was going for. Then I realized, this fool just can't act AT ALL. What was that?! I don't care if he was in the original. He probably sucked in the Tamil version too. Jiah Khan and the Ghajini dude were a horrible mistake in casting.

The music was so frustrating because I felt like it really could have been amazing. Maybe A.R. Rahman was rushed or something but even Guzarish was disappointing. It starts out amazing and when I first heard the beginning I thought it was going to be a classic A.R.Rahman song (AKA a Dil Se or Taal type song) but it kindof went down hill. LOVE the singer though. But I really liked Latoo. Completely disappointed it was only in the movie for like 5 seconds. and I LOOOOVVVEEEE BEHKA!!!! omg omg. So cute. and I love that singer too. I don't know his name but he was awesome.

Yeah the flashback story was so cute. I could have seen a whole separate movie based on that. And for the first few minutes Asin was extremely annoying but I loved her after that. She is gorgeous and she acted well. And yeah, I loved her weight. BUT WHO WAS THE WARDROBE PERSON!? I mean come on now. Its like they were trying to make her look 20 pounds bigger and 2 feet shorter. Disaster

And I LOVED all the fight scenes. I know they were over the top but.....I thought they were believable in a weird way. The fight scenes in Ghajini were 800 times better than the fight scenes in Batman Begins. I know. Completely random comparison to make but the fight scenes in Batman Begins were horrible....

All in all. Loved it. But when I watch it again, I'm only going to watch the flashback scenes...

LOVED the review Sabrina. My bloodpressure surprisingly did not go up while reading your review.

Gamesmaster G9 said...

Nothing Aamir Khan does can ever be bad. If it IS over-the-top, then its only because he was TRYING to be over the top. If the plot was like a non-credible Tamil masala flick, then its because Aamir WANTED to make a non-credible Tamil masala flick. His is Aamir Khan and he can do no wrong.

That is all.

S.K.S. said...

Wow Ani, does that mean you are a fan of Mela, too? And Fanaa?

Everyone makes mistakes, dude.

roopsm said...

That Ghajini guy was really annoying. If Aamir had not I would have killed him. Even though I am a big Amir fan but I will have to say Surya was slightly better in the Tamil version and even though it wasnt as good as as it is hyped, but better than Rab ne. and yeah Aamir >> SRK