Has anyone ever heard of a book called Q&A? Unlikely. Ever heard of a phenomenon called Slumdog Millionaire? You would have to be insanely ignorant not to have! Vikas Swarup’s engaging book released in the aftermath of Amitabh Bachchan’s KBC was shown to me by N and I quickly read it. While a pleasant read and the technique of splitting each chapter by the questions necessary to ply the game, it didn’t seem to have a story capable of being translated into a full-length movie. Apparently Danny Boyle doesn’t agree. He takes the book and skims through it and then proceeds to throw it away and make the movie. Many crucial parts of the book (the duplicity of the channel, the brutality of the police, the sheer disbelief of seeing a slum-dweller on TV) are swallowed whole while more attention is given to the love story and the depressing under-belly of India. The cast is superb – the kids deserve special mention for their absolute believability – and Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan are suitably nasty. Adult Jamal, Latika fall short of the standard set by Adult Salim and it is he who is most engaging as the story progresses. I watched the film to satisfy my curiosity but if we win any Oscars (apart from Rahman’s who’s score is outstanding), I will be very surpised.
'Tis a burden to be Aamir Khan in India. Every movie you make is held up for scrutiny and judged by standards way above the average film. Whether it is the fans or the critics – everything is surrounded by hoopla and a lot of unwanted opinions. Of course, Aamir being Aamir, he decides to cash in on it and makes Ghajini the biggest grossing weekend movie in some time. I saw this movie in Mumbai on the eve of the New Year and perhaps seeing it alone tainted my perspective. Perhaps it was the sheer length of the movie (3 hours and counting) that baffled me. Or the fact that while the average ticket price in Bangalore for a movie is 150 (even a PVR charges about 200), Ghajini tickets were priced at 300 for the initial weekend of its release. Any which way, I felt very let down. The plot was threadbare and while this may work for most movies, the whole revenge-while-being-mental felt a little dated. This is a man who gave us TZP and Lagaan and even with lemons like Mangal Pandey, always re-written the rules of what a Bollywood movie can be. While SRK sticks to the formula and wins, Aamir goes against the formula and wins and earns my respect everytime. Not this time. Ghajini is a disappointment in many ways and did not move me. At all.