The antithesis is that what the director intended as the primary plot of Ghajini becomes incidental, and what is a flashback, a subplot, becomes its prize-winning sequence. The sprightly love affair between Sanjay Ramaswamy (Surya) and Kalpana (Asin) is the show-stealer, and its tragic end, the movie's whyfor.
Those who love how tightly Memento and The Bourne Identity were scripted, or how well 50 First Dates explores the ramifications of The Goldfish Syndrome, should strictly stay away from this "inspiration". For anyone inclined to use his logical faculties, Ghajini will have nothing left after a barrage of incisive questioning. But if you let little slips pass by benevolently, it's a riotous entertainer. Action, romance and a speck of scientific rationale: it's the winning formula. The science gives you a chance to invent preposterously fanciful situations, and the romance and action let you flesh them out. Burp! It's wholesome fare!
What starts it all off is this: Sanjay Ramaswamy is a cellphone company tycoon. He owns Air-Voice, and acts much like Anil Ambani when he was young. Except, he doesn't have a brother called Mukesh. What he does have is girlfriend Kalpana, who has a rather magnanimous heart. That is what wins him over, and the love affair, like we mentioned, is just plain sweet as hell!
Kalpana is a struggling, minor actress in ad-films, and when the turn of events lead her colleagues to mistakenly assume that Sanjay, who she has not even met till then, is her boyfriend, she grabs the chance to swipe some of the limelight.
Sanjay chances upon her serendipitously - as he is out to meet her to clear this much propagated and publicized fib - and falls in love with her, without knowing who she is. When he finally finds out, he decides to keep quiet as he is enjoying the game quite a bit.
This entire sequence of shamming and falling in love alongside is full of novel humor. Asin is good in her clowning; her energy in mischief-making moves all the scenes up one level. Surya's quiet and mellow act of cocking his head and breaking into an honest, and rather sensuous smile, as he enjoys her buffoonery, is naturally done.
The tragedy that strikes comes in the form of Lakshman, whose villainous dealings are sabotaged by Kalpana's charitable ways. She rescues a group of girls who are have been kidnapped to be forced into prostitution, and Lakshman, who is behind this, gets on her trail. And it happens. Much to the pressure on the tear-glands of the sentimental members of the audience, she is killed. And Sanjay, who is there to save her, is slammed on the head, leading to short-term memory loss (STML).
Excuse us, but the movie BEGINS with the STML. Sanjay is wandering around with a Polaroid camera, taking pictures of all his friends and scribbling notes on them. He tattoos names and numbers all over his body. That is because he cannot remember anything beyond 15 minutes, and needs to hold on to the thread of the murder so he can get his retribution.
A lot can be said about the handling of this part of the movie, but let's just stop at "Michael Crichton would have done it very differently". You have questions, questions, questions, if you are the thinking kind. You want to know why he continues running after 15 minutes in a villain-chase sequence if his memory runs out halfway. Is it that his memory of events is gone but the emotion is still pushing him? You want to know how he picks himself up so quickly when he ought to be devastatingly disoriented every time the tape resets. Isn't fifteen minutes too small to rewind and play an entire previous lifetime? So how is he so motivated and convinced in his pursuit of the villain?
But we are picking nits now, carping and cavilling about something that doesn't claim to live up to our finicky standards. So we'll stop. All in all, this is one hell of a racy movie. Towards the end, there are plenty of unnecessary detours that add no entertainment to the story, but the first 3/4ths of the movie is superhit material. As for the music, it rocks, especially with Surya flashing his aforementioned sensuous smile.
Ghajini is definitely a brilliant contender to fulfill this weekend's entertainment needs. It's a rather complete movie, not one of those kinds that has a little plot and follows it with blinkers on. This one hops, skips and jumps into everything, and in the bargain, keeps you riveted. So catch it as fast as you can, and yes, do let us know if you can figure out why it's called what it is.