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Memento Redux


Ghajini, starring Surya and Asin and directed by A.R. Murugadoss is a remake of Memento. Yes, that Memento. If you have even a passing familiarity with the film industry in India, you will know right away that a remake of a Hollywood classic means a watered down version that takes the original premise, and somehow contrives to wrap it around a “love-story,” five songs, seventeen fight sequences, and several voice overs that explain crucial plot points to the audience. And so, there is a certain recalibration of expectations that is required to enjoy such remakes.

Viewed from a lens thus recalibrated, Ghajini is an eminently enjoyable movie. Murugadoss borrows the rudimentary plot from Memento – revenge of the amnesiac – and manages to Indianise it without too many holes. The scriptwork and screenplay are tidy, and the dialogues refreshingly down to earth. Even the two heroines don't seem too out of place in the script and that in itself is an achievement.

Surya and Asin act reasonably well and Nayanthara has a role that is peripheral enough that her performance doesn't matter too much. Although, I must admit I was a little traumatized when I saw her dance to an item number – every part of her literally shook, and in a startling reminder of Newton's first law, certain parts kept shaking even after she had stopped dancing.

*Digression* If you are a college professor who came to this page through Google looking for “Nayanthara, shaking, Newton,” feel free to ignore my Creative Commons license and use this example to teach Newton to your students. You can even take them on a field trip to the nearest movie theater playing Ghajini. *End Digression*

Surprisingly enough, the best part of the movie is the flashback – the mandatory sequence to explain how Surya lost his memory and hair. Murugadoss is very comfortable handling the romantic scenes between his lead pair, and the casual humor that pervades the romance between Surya and Asin is a treat.

The songs are atrocious, and the stunt sequences are a little too long, but overall Ghajini is one of the better masala movies out of Tamil this year.

The Fly On The Wall:

Regular readers of this blog (can you laugh a little less loudly, please?) are probably aware that we have sources all over the place. A couple of them were willing to talk to us (off the record of course, what do you think?) for this review.

A conversation between Harris Jayaraj, the music composer and Murugadoss, the director:

“So Harris, what do you think about the movie?”

Harris mumbles, then stops, grins, scratches his hair, picks his nose and mumbles again.

“So Harris, what do you think about the movie?”

Harris mumbles again. “Do you think my hair is long enough?”

“Let us get this straight man – you do a pathetic Rahman imitation. Now answer my frickin' question.”

“Hmm, it is good. Grunt. Umm. The flashback is funny. But the rest of it is very serious. Need more comedy.”

“You think so? I asked the producer for more money to shoot some funny scenes, but he said no. Now I am worried.”

“Hmm. Umm. Hmm. Umm. I will take care of it with my background music.”


“Wait and watch.”

Watch we did. And we are glad to report that Harris was very, very successful in his endeavour.

Whenever Surya shows up on screen, a voice screams in the background:

“Bo Zo….. Bo Zo. Booooo…. Zooooo.” The speed of the chant varies according to the need of the scene (naturally). To ensure that the same joke doesn't get repeated too often the next time Surya shows up, the same voice chants:

“Zo Lo.. Zo Lo…Zo Lo”.

I have to admit, it had me in splits. Great job, dude.

A conversation between Surya and his Dad:

“Dad, I have this role in this new movie and I am supposed to be an amnesiac for good two hours. Any advice?”

“Drink coconut water, don't smoke, don't drink, do Yoga and get out of your relationship with Jothika.”

“Dad, I asked for acting tips, not this crap.”

“Oh, ok. Have you seen me act angry in movies?”

“You mean where you keep your body erect, roll your eyes and shake your head robotically back and forth?”

“Yes. Exactly. Do that.”

For once, Surya listened to his dad.

PS: Hemant has a more conventional review up on Instant Kaapi, and I agree with most of what he says.