‘Ghajini’, Surinder and You

Last Updated: Jan 05, 2009, 22:12 PM IST

A couple of weeks ago, before the release of either ‘Ghajini’ or ‘Rab ne ..’, a friend of mine asked which film I thought would do better. I paused, and after much hawing and hmming, looking distractedly around and rubbing my chin, I delivered the verdict that it would be ‘Rab ne…’ <br/> <br/>The film was a love story, with a sweet, mushy feel - made not just for individuals but families. <br/> <br/>Going by the posters, ‘Ghajini’ seemed to be one of those brawn and gone stories with enough violence to make your hair stand on ends. <br/> <br/>If ‘Rab ne…’ was really all about how this boring shy chap gets the hep girl to fall for him; well half the male population, including me, would turn up to watch. <br/> <br/>Now that both films have released and ‘Ghajini’ has beaten the boots off ‘Rab ne…’ with its box office collection, I am going to revise my opinion, and give my reasons thereof. <br/> <br/>‘Rab Ne…’ turned out to be a disappointment. For the past several films now, Shah Rukh seems to have breezed through his roles with crushing sameness. The guy, it seems, doesn’t try. <br/> <br/>One couldn’t decide if the story was meant to be funny or romantic. Was it a romantic comedy? Then what was that serious stuff, involving Surinder’s angst for not getting the love of his wife, all about? <br/> <br/>Are we supposed to believe in a woman who could drive a motorbike like a racer, without the benefit of the kind of suspension of disbelief that a ‘Golmal’ requires? Were we really supposed to think that if a man changes his clothes, spikes his hair and shaves off his mo, he would become so unrecognizable that his wife would not be able to recognize him?<br/> <br/>‘Rab Ne…’ as a film, falls between two stools. It is neither a serious, sentimental look at love between mental strangers, nor a happy gag. <br/> <br/>Aamir, wrote a columnist while talking of ‘Ghajini’, knows the importance of being earnest. Yes he hams, yes his repertoire of expressions are rather limited; but give it to the chap, what he does, he does with all his heart. <br/> <br/>And he has that courage of conviction that makes him pick out movies that are different. ‘Tare Zameen Par’ is a case in point. ‘Sarfrosh’, in which he acted for a debutant director, is another case in point. He is making films that he likes, and he is trying to take the audience along with him.<br/> <br/>Therein lies a world of difference between Aamir and Shah Rukh. <br/> <br/>Shah Rukh, in many respects the better actor, (see ‘Chak De’ if you don’t believe me) seems to have no compunctions about making and selling trash to the audience on the strength of his marketing and his star appeal alone (‘Om Shanti Om’), which is something that Aamir Khan consciously avoids. <br/> <br/>In his attitude, there is a certain contempt for the audience’s intelligence. It seems that he believes the audience will gape through his well marketed capers if there is Shah Rukh Khan, the star (which by the bye, is a necessary distinction, he seems to treat the stardom accruing to his person different from himself), in it.<br/> <br/>There is a conflict going on between the two types of film making, exemplified in the rivalry between the two stars. Now that Aamir has brought to his game that same sort of media management (just see the pre release hype around ‘Ghajini’) that Shah Rukh Khan has routinely employed, ‘Ghajini’ has wiped the floor with ‘Rab ne..’<br/> <br/>What does that say about the future of film making in India?