**This note added 12/27: Happy birthday Salman Khan!**
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Wishing you all the very best in life. Have fun and be safe. And try to make Ghajini a part of the holidays (it even features a lead dressed as Santa's helper!). My initial review is at the bottom of this post. Those of you who saw it, what did you think? Liked it? Loved it? Didn't like it? What's the verdict? If you have yet to see it and are willing to give it a chance (and I highly recommend you do, see bottom of post for more), here are some links you might find interesting:
Official website RememberGhajini.com | Theater listing
Music review and lyrics and translation of each song
All other posts, including all promos/trailers
Aamir Khan blog post discussing the release
Aamir interview (in English). CNN-IBN serves up a very interesting round of questions, and presents discussions with directors who have cast Aamir including Indra Kumar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Farhan Akhtar, and Ashutosh Gowariker. There's Aamir trivia time with the audience (easy, easy :P), and there's even discussion around an Andaz Apna Apna (1994) sequel (I love the case is gaining traction) and Shah Rukh Khan's insistence of a joint project. The complete interview, which is fittingly kicked off with a discussion on Ghulam (1998), is available at these links: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8. If there's one interview you check out, make it this one.
Aside: How about Shammi Kapoor voluntarily quoting Aamir?! Listen to a fantastic Shammi interview about 2:22 into the Sunday edition of Love Bollywood by Raj and Pablo, at this link; it'll be gone this weekend.
Asin interview (in English): Part 1 | Part 2; Also, from this Asin interview:
Any exciting moments you can recall?
We shot on real locations in Mumbai, the roads, the buildings, etc. We hardly put up sets for the film. I remember I had to ride a scooty with Mr. Aamir Khan behind me. It was real fun because imagine one fine Monday morning when people saw Aamir on a scooty in Mumbai. The excitement and the experience on real locations with Aamir was truly unique.
Here's a Jiah Khan interview. I expect to be totally floored by her character. In case you've been wondering why she's been kept hush hush:
Ever since the common man has heard about Ghajini's first look, the promos and the songs, the only thing they haven't heard about is Jiah Khan. What say?
I'd like to say that Jiah Khan does exist in Ghajini (laughs). It's up to Aamir Khan and the producers of Ghajini and the way they want to publicize the film. What they've done with my role and my image is going to be a big surprise.
There have been some very interesting and seemingly effective marketing campaigns for the film, and if you're a fan of the cast, there's a lot to appreciate.
There's the Ghajini clothing line by Van Heusen
A multiplex staff voluntary adopted the haircut
The haircut is quite popular -- here's Aamir with fans
And here's Santa with the haircut!
Aamir mannequins have been all over the cinemas
My favorite move is the development of a 3D video game, the first ever for a Bollywood film. The game by FX Labs and distributed by Eros Entertainment is set to release alongside the film. Here's a sample frame:
The game is available for purchase at this Eros Entertainment link. Mine is on its way :)
Of course, there is reaction from the film fraternity as well. Aamir doesn't typically hold premieres (for Jaane Tu was an exception), and this was no different. But there were a few interesting faces at a private screening held in Bandra in greater Mumbai. From this link, here are Waheeda Rahman and Salim Khan (Salman Khan's father):
The link also has pictures of Rani Mukherji and Sridevi, and here are Asha Parekh and Helen.
And finally, Salman Khan liked the film so much, he gifted Aamir two of his paintings (done before seeing the film)! From this link, here's Asin alongside the paintings. That's good stuff, Sallu:
There is a Salman connection with Ghajini, Director A. R. Mugradoss notes that when he approached Aamir for the film, Aamir recommended Salman for the project.
All right, I'm off for my pre-Aamir-release routine (okay, I'm kidding, the routine is reserved for the Miami Dolphins -- I'm superstitious only when it comes to my favorite sports teams :P). About four hours away from the first show here in Los Angeles, and I'll hope to add my thoughts to this post following.
Would love to hear what you all think!
Initial thoughts (added 12/24 ~6 PM PST):
Just returned from the first show, and my initial reactions are extremely positive. All through Ghajini's supply chain (since a couple years ago), we knew this was Aamir's first all out commercial/masala entertainer in quite a long time. Based on this, I think Ghajini sets new benchmarks, especially in its action sequences, production values, and yes, performances!
The plot, music and choreography (and their almost seamless integration), screenplay and dialogue, cinematography, and mostly acting (Aamir -- but we knew that, Asin -- who is easy to fall in love with, and will be around Bollywood for a while, Jiah - the weaker link relatively but still very good, and Pradeep Rawat -- the villain who has Lagaan (2001) in his filmography), are all phenomenal. The result is an extremely engaging film which is well, well worth watching (in fact, it's gripping) from start to finish, with no scene out of place, and even a surprising dose of romantic comedy that provides an effective balance to the screenplay.
It is not a perfect film -- there are minor details that are quite obviously deliberately overlooked (e.g. uncontrolled sharing of original medical records, perhaps I'm being too picky), and the film is so fast-paced, **spoiler** it doesn't let your mind wander into thinking too much about how the powerful Sanjay Singhania can maintain another identity with so many people **end spoiler**. But these stay true to the genre, and I do not think they hurt the film at all.
The narrative arc is beautiful, and allows Ghajini to walk the talk. The film meets my expectations, and know I expect a *lot* from Aamir and his films. I think it's fair to say that it is the best, most complete and most engaging film of 2008, and I highly recommend you see it in theaters. They worked very hard to achieve the final product, and it shows. Aamir had said last week that if the film is substantial, one shall not leave with the image of his physique as a principal memory. That appears to have been accomplished, amid all the moments that induce laughter, tears, anger and sympathy, in what is testament to his acting, which is superb.
Four and a half stars for a fantastic cinematic experience, one that had me and many others at the edge of our seats. Masala entertainers and action films are hardly my favorite genres, but this package effectively challenges that view. I am all set to rank it alongside (if not above) Aamir's other major masala film that was a humongous commercial success in Raja Hindustani (1995), only this one is a lot more believable (although it does require taking off thinking caps every once in a while, true to its genre) and even carries many more subtle messages of civic responsibility. If you enjoyed Aamir's Ghulam (1998) and Sarfarosh (1999), you'll most certainly enjoy this.
Movie rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)
Here's a film that gives us reason to believe in the masala recipe and in suspending disbelief.
My classification: R (for violence)