I've been watching a lot of Bollywood movies on Netflix. I've also set up a Bollywood music channel on Pandora. I first heard several songs from Ghajini by A.R. Rahman. But I avoided watching the film for some time because I thought it was just a remake of Memento. But the music was very engaging and I finally decided to check it out.
As I was searching for the movie on Netflix I noticed that there were two versions of Ghajini - a 2005 and a 2008 version. Both were identified as an Indian action psychological thriller film written and directed by A. R. Murugadoss. And they both starred Asin as the main love interest. I wondered whether the first version didn't do so well so the studios decided to do a remake to improve the story.
Fortunately, this was not the case at all.
I was able to watch the 2008 version with Aamir Khan and Asin first and my initial reaction was that this wasn't a remade of Memento at all. It took some of the ideas, but added interesting twists and, of course, the fabulous item numbers.
I finally got a copy of the 2005 version with Suriya playing the same character as Aamir Khan. It turns out Ghajini (2005) is the original version of the story in Tamil while Ghajini (2008) is essentially a scene-by-scene remake in Hindi.
But the truly interesting thing is that both films stand on their own.
Aamar Khan and Suriya bring different, but remarkable qualities to their roles. And it is fascinating to see Asin acting alongside each of these outstanding actors.
And a pleasant difference is in the music - which is why everyone should see both versions because the music and item numbers are worth experiencing. Harris Jayaraj provides the music for Ghajini (2005) while A.R. Rahman composed the music for Ghajini (2008). The item numbers in Ghajini (2005) are more youthful and raw while the Ghajini (2008) item numbers have more of the Bollywood polish we've seen in recent films.
Here is one my favorite comparisons. The item number, "Oru Maalai Ila Veyil Neram" is from Ghajini (2005) after Sanjay Ramaswamy (Suriya) realizes he has fallen in love with Kalpana (Asin).
The Ghajini (2008) version features Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan) at the same point in the movie. "Guzarish" is a different musical and performance style, but equally engaging:
By the way, Pradeep Rawat also appears in both Ghajini films as the villian. In Ghajini 2005 he appeared in a double role as Ram and Lakshman. In Ghajini 2008, he appears in the role of Ghajini Dharmatma. Why the difference in the name of the villian while the movie title remains the same? According to Lenin Nair:
In Tamil, the title of the film is inspired by the story of Mahmud of Ghazni, an ancient invader of India. This person was so persistent in invading India that he continued trying after several failures. In the film too, the protagonist is such persistent in finding out and killing the villain of the film, who had killed his girlfriend, Kalpana (played by Asin). Aamir's Character (named Sanjay Ramaswamy in Tamil), is a short-term amnesiac, who cannot remember anything more than fifteen minutes.
You may ask then how the Ghazni became Ghajini. The answer is in the odd, amusing, and sometimes irregular Tamil accent, in which people call Ghazni, something similar to 'Ghajini'. When it was written in English, they followed a spelling matching the pronunciation, and Aamir decided to follow the name to attract Tamil moviegoers, who are not very fond of Hindi films. But in Hindi, we can't call the film Ghajini because Tamil people say so. Hence the name of the villain was changed to 'Ghajini Dharmatma'.
Kollywood (the Tamil film industry) is the second largest film industry in India. Tamil people are crazy filmgoers, but only for Tamil films, not for Hindi, English, or any other language. In other South Indian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, or Kannada, Hindi films have far more fan following than in Tamil. Capturing Tamil moviegoers' attention is very vital in the success of Ghajini. I believe this name is a perfect marketing strategy for the purpose.
I recommend you enjoy both versions of the movie!
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