Sunday, October 02, 2005


Ghajini is an action movie but it is mainly propped up by romance. It is a good thriller that boasts of an interesting concept with a lot of possibilities. It has very few dull moments and is consistently entertaining. But at the same time, I couldn't help being a little disappointed at how little it did with the concept it picked. What Ghajini does, it does well. But in the end, I was left wondering how much more it could have done.

Sanjay Ramaswamy(Surya) has been afflicted with Short-term Memory Loss ever since he was hit on the head with an iron bar. He remembers the incident clearly but apart from that, he cannot remember anything beyond the last 15 minutes. So his whole life is guided by clues he leaves himself through notes, photographs and self-inflicted tattoos. And all these clues seem to lead him towards killing Laxman(Pradeep Rawat), who in turn is wondering who is after him. A police officer(Riyaz Khan) catches up with Sanjay and from his diary learns of his past as a millionaire businessman and his romance with Kalpana(Asin), an ad-film model. Meanwhile, a final year medical student Chitra(Nayanthara), who is interested in Sanjay's case from a medical point of view, becomes more involved in his life than she wants.

Whatever the source may be(and in this case its Memento), Ghajini is based on a very interesting premise. The short-term memory loss and the means Surya uses to overcome the affliction offer some tantalising possibilities for the film's direction. The initial scenes where we realise how difficult even day-to-day activities(like returning home from an outing) are for Surya and see how he manages to accomplish them are most interesting parts of the movie. But they are just too short. Its like the film offers some interesting taste samples but doesn't serve the full meal. For instance, I would've loved to see the story behind the photograph marked "Don't believe him".

The film sets the stage for a very clever and interesting thriller. And then changes track completely as it jumps to the love story between Surya and Asin! From a pure entertainment standpoint, I have no complaints because the love track is a complete delight. It is based on the rather weak point that Asin doesn't know(and doesn't try to find out) who Sanjay Ramaswamy is but easily makes us overlook the point with its cuteness, wit and humor. The fact that Surya and the audience are privy to a secret Asin isn't makes the proceedings very funny. The track keeps us smiling throughout and there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. Murugadoss proved in Dheena that he knew how to craft a very cute and endearing love story and he proves it again here.

My disappointment arises from the opportunities lost with the main track. As the Surya-Asin track carries on(and on, after a break where we come back to the present), there is always the feeling in the back of the mind that it is cutting into the time the story will have after getting back to the present. And the feeling turns out to be right. The short-term memory loss part is rarely brought into the picture after the flashback ends. Interesting complications(like all Surya's clues being destroyed) are resolved in simple ways and the movie turns into a regular revenge film filled with chases and fights. So it even seems to drag a bit.

The 'lost opportunity' phenomenon is seen on a smaller scale in the screenplay too. There is a nice twist regarding the villain that could have thrown up a great complication. But it is dealt with in a lame way and serves no purpose other than to throw in some nice special effects in a few scenes.

Surya once again pretty much lives his role. His expressions and body language as he deals with his problem are superbly done. And he is every inch the rich businessman in the flashback. He oozes class and is very believable. Asin proves to be the Amala of today - slim, pretty, expressive eyes, bright smile, good acting and a great knack for comedy. After a subdued role in Ullam Ketkume, she is back to her playful, jolly M.Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi persona here. And I loved her. She impresses in the few scenes she acts serious too. When she is scared, we are scared for her too. And she has the ability to touch us too with just her eyes.

I always thought that a single movie wouldn't make me change my opinion about an actress but Ghajini proves me wrong! I'm talking about Nayanthara. She looks bad(whose bright idea was it to give her a nose ring?!), fat(and her dresses do nothing to hide the fact) and overly made-up. Her costumes in the X Maatri... song sequence made me cringe and make her look very vulgar and cheap. And its a double whammy in her case since her character is badly etched too. She does some pretty illogical things at many places in the film. Ghajini was a bad career move for her. Asin simply eats her up. Pradeep Rawat doesn't shout as much as he did in Thotti Jaya but isn't too menacing either.

I don't usually notice the background score in a movie unless it really stands out(as in, say, Idhayathai Thirudaadhey). Harris Jayaraj's background score here stands out too but not for the right reasons. It is a virtual cacophony of sounds and a full assault on our ears. The background music in many scenes just doesn't match the mood of the scene or even what goes on during the scene. He makes up for it with two very good melodies in the soundtrack but Murugadoss makes a mess of their picturization. Oru Maalai... is inexplicably picturized as a group dance(and not a very good one at that) and only the scenes that show Surya and Asin in their regular personas save it from being a complete disaster. Suttum Vizhi... is atleast not a group dance but Surya's steps in that one look plain weird. Its like he's part of a one-person aerobics class or something. Rangola... is fun to watch and Rahatula..., Asin's introduction, looks like a rap video

Someone who does make us sit up and notice is the cinematographer. There are some nice angles and camera effects(there's even a 'dogcam'!) throughout the movie. The digital effects in Suttum Vizhi... are neatly done and the climax fight has some nice digital tricks too.

Ghajini is a marked improvement over the recent string of disappointments in Tamil cinema. But it could have been so much more.


At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's what my 20-something friend (obviously a jollukkull-mazhai fan of surya) wrote me, after a screening in NJ:

movie - gooood, A MUST WATCH SURYA FILM..not a
flawless picture .. there are defnitely some
directorial mistakes..few illogical scenes and some
typical indian cinema villain scenes... but surya and
asin are totally worth overlooking all these minor
glitches... totally gripping n enjoyable !!!


asin - AWESOME...

nayanthara - AWFUL... a big blackspot in the movie....
really wish there was someone else in place of her....

songs - oru maalai and suttum vizhi are the best (song
wise, picturization wise, romance wise and SURYA wise

BGM - Harris back in track after a disappointing BGM
in anniyan!!

costumes - unconventional, but surya looks totally hot
in them.. so what the heck ???

At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


dont think there can be a more fitting review than what you have given. i felt the exact the same things about each facet of the movie. went in with a lot of expectations and i was definitely disappointed.

this one cud hv been so much better ...


At 8:49 PM, Blogger skanda said...

The film was a bit disappointing for me too...the film would have been better if it was songless throught...but Harris Jeyaraj's music was good..

Suryah is simply terrific thoght his gestures reminded me of kamal in "alavandhan"..nice acting but Suryah behaves more like a pyscho than a person who is suffering from short term memory loss!

Nayanthara looks so old in this film!!! she tried to look sexy but it has backfired on her terribly..

I love Asin in the film as she was so full of fun in the film...cant wait to see Asin again in "majaa"...

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Kaps said...

excellent & elaborate review. All reviews have thrashed HJ's background score. hope he works on this and delivers a better output in his future releases.

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, agree with your frnd on most things except the songs picturization and BGM. i can't believe she liked the BGM.
anyway, my nayan to asin balti pathi no comments? :)

arun, thanx. looks like we felt the same way about the film.

skanda, most of the songs were part of the romance track. so i didnt mind them too much. 'x maatri' was the only unnecessary 1 but i think that was inserted just so that nayan would have atleast 1 song.
i thot so too initially but then on thinking about it, a person would go crazy if he couldn't remember past 15 mins. so i thot his gestures were appropriate :)
yeah, i too think nayan wanted a change of image from the homely look in 'ayya' and 'chandramukhi'. complete disaster...

kaps, thanx :) and u're right on HJ's BGM. didnt notice it much in 'anniyan' and 'thotti jaya' but it was really bad here.

At 4:10 AM, Blogger vee-jay said...

I haven't seen Memento, so this have nothing to compare Ghajini with. Overall, liked the movie very much.
Felt that Surya & Asin were the highlights of the movie. Nayanthara is really bad, understated. I somehow did not like the choice of the villain too.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Kumari said...

Darn detailed review. Thanks BB :)

But epdi irunthalum, Surya padatha theatrele parkka porengra ore santhosham thaan :)

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was gonna comment on that but was in a hurry so, just copy-pasted my friend's mini-review...
anyways, very, very happy to see u kakshi maatram...good for u...i told u...well, finally ungalukku karpoora vaasanai unara aaramichirkku...magizhchi, metha magizchi...:)
neenge 9, 9-nu chellam konjarcheyve theriyum ipdi edhaachu nadakkum-nu!

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i totally agree with u abt Harris's racket. couldn't stand it in a DTS theatre. since kakka kakka his standards at re-recording have gone down drastically

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Excellent review.
I will try to watch it without comparing Memento ;)

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i went to the movie with no expectations and liked it overall. I didn't know much about the movie. Of course, I liked the romance part of the movie. Light and fun. Hated Nayanthara.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

veejay, seeing 'memento' didn't really affect my opinion since 'ghajini' borrowed the premise only. neither the complicated screenplay nor the ultimate ending in 'memento' would've suited Tamil films. so i wasn't surprised that only the premise was borrowed :)

kumari, u r welcome. detailed but no spoilers mind u :) neraiya ponnungaluku(including my wife) adhe sandhosham dhaan :)

ganesh, not much to compare. so no worries :)

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After catching a glimpse of the update for "Ghajini" on lazygeeks blog, my expectations took a nosedive. But I made sure I didn't read any further reviews. As I had wanted to see this film for a LONG time, I decided to just go ahead. I was glad. It's a nice film, if we don't go with too much expections.

Balaji, I too felt like you did. The film didn't do too much justice towards the end, after the flashbacks. I was expecting a strong screenplay by Murugadoss (as he had done in Ramana) but felt it fell weak at times. Actually, the story itself, in the 2nd half, could have been changed quite a bit.

Only negative thing in the film, besides the songs and Nayanthara's character, is the length. I wish the director had cut out unnecessary songs and shortened the film a bit. Moreover, the picturization was a pity. My favourite song, "sutrum vizhi", could have been done so well. I can't imagine how that song would have been picturized by directors like Maniratnam.

Best thing in the film. Surya. He is the best looking 'Tamil' actor in Tamil industry, right now. The new hair style, polished skin tone, everything suits him to a T. Surya has looked his best only in Ghajini. Asin comes right close to him. I was afraid of a love triangle film. Was pleasantly surprised, both with the chemistry b/w lead pair, and the cute love story.


At 5:01 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

kajan, arun said the same thing before too. it feels good(as a reviewer) when a reader says "i felt exactly the same way u did about the movie". thanx :)

and i thot 'oru maalai' was the winner in the 'worst picturization' category. but 'suttum vizhi' does come a pretty close 2nd :)

i felt asin was the life of the cute love track. but surya defly did the perfect thing by underplaying it.

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked the movie too. I didn't particularly think that Surya was good looking. If anything, he looked far less than handsome and like "No 9" in some scenes.

Asin on the other hand was gorgeous and has done full justice to the role.

I agree with your comments on Nayantara. She needs to work out more so it's not so obvious that she is out of shape.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

thanks balaji

oru rooba kuduththu veetulaye pakkapporen. really not looking forward to a jarring soundtrack in the confined space without having volume control in my hand.


At 7:34 AM, Blogger Ram C said...

i too disliked nayan's attire in that song and her makeup..very bad.. and she is losing ground in tamilworld.. hopefully she may quit this place quickly. she cannot survive like this...

hope u hvn't read mine yet....

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the movie yeaterday and I must admit that I agree with most of the review. However, there was not one dull moment in the entire movie and that in itself was the strength of the movie. It is true that the double-act for the villian was un-necessary. Although the special effects using them were well done. More time could have been spent on the "15-minute" syndrome.

One important aspect the review failed to commend were the action sequences. They were very slick

RD Rajashekar maintains his track record. He was just brilliant.

Bottom line: Great effort and the movie rocks!

At 1:18 AM, Blogger dshiv said...

Ippo dhaan movie parthom. Fabulous ! Extremely slick and sophisticated. Tamil movies are finally back especially with Anniyan & this one. I recommed that they start skimming more Englees movies. Oru Maalai rocked and I thought that the choreography was hip-hoppish & cool.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

ramc, read yours right after i wrote my review. we do agree on quite a few points including nayanthara!

anon, yep. thats what i was referring to when i said "consistently engaging"

dshiv, glad u liked it. actually i thot the earlier anon comment was yours since u used the phrase "the movie rocks" for 'anniyan' too :)

agree with the slick and sophisticated but not on 'oru maalai' :)

At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>If anything, he looked far less >than handsome and like "No 9" in >some scenes.

r u by any chance confusing surya with sjsuryah?:P

Balaji/ram good to b back:)

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Ramki said...

I have read this word 'dogcam' - whats it .

Background score - It was over done .It was ahuge mismatch for Action scenes but Harris did agreat job in Romantic scenes .

AR Murgadoss did the right thing - This movie is a comlementary to memento .If he had used more scenes using the concept of 15 min memory loss ,the film wld have been greta - but he wld have ripped memento for that .

Abt ur questions - 'DOn't belive him ' .: They were copied from memento .Also a question comes how he got the photos of the villains ,when he was hit in his head .Its impossible to get it after that !

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