GHAJINI, DHOBI GHAT & TALAASH… the ‘memory’ trilogy

It is a stunning achievement and one that is almost missed; but with Ghajini, Dhobi Ghat and now Talaash, Aamir Khan has invested with ‘memory’, both personal and political, in three vastly different genre films that are nevertheless connected by a common ‘quest’. The ‘talaash’ at the heart of his most recent film is that of a cop (a symbol of the system that has failed to ‘look out’ for those for whom it was precisely created) for the class of people that have fallen through the cracks. In Dhobi Ghat, it was an artist made privy to a migrant woman by way of her video-logs. And in Ghajini, it was an entrepreneur having to remap his memory which had stopped making new ones from the precise point where his ‘connect’ to a ‘class’ other than his was violently taken away from him.

Ghajini, DG, Talaash

That the cop Surjan Singh is an outsider to Mumbai is just as important to the plot of Talaash as Abhishek Bachchan’s being a Kannadiga cop Kamath was to the spectral world of Dum Maaro Dum whose Goan mystery was unraveled across the border in Karnataka. This is just one of the similarities between Reema Kagti’s unrelentingly dark film and Rohan Sippy’s superlative brooding masterpiece from 2011. Both films have cops with deep personal losses investigating a case that involves unearthing the ‘undead’.

Coming back to Aamir Khan’s trilogy, and Talaash in particular, it is very important to observe that the confrontation of ‘memory’ in each of these films happens to a character representing a ‘class’ of society that most needs to be reminded and made aware of a history; and correct it, protect it, if not avenge it- the cop in Talaash, the painter in Dhobi Ghat and the high-flier in Ghajini.

It would be erroneous to think of Talaash as merely a suspense thriller. That ‘quest’ in fact is a red herring. To the faceless-nameless of Mumbai’s underbelly captured perfectly in the opening credits (“Jo rooh pyaasi hai, jinmein udaasi hai, woh hai ghoomti”), it is imperative that Aamir’s cop ‘uncover’ their existence. The reality is not ‘Rosy’, and it is precisely such an ‘outsider’ with a personal loss of his own that Rosy was waiting for to acknowledge the lives that are never accounted for (“Jo ginti mein nahin aate, woh gayab kaise ho sakte hain”). Like the artist in Dhobi Ghat acknowledged the ‘existence’ of the other, and the protagonist in Ghajini had himself tattooed all over body denying the copout to forget.

It is also interesting to note that in all the three films, there is also a certain gender play. In all the three films, the ‘memory’ to be preserved is that of a woman ‘past’, while the protagonist struggles with the presence of a tangible woman in the ‘now’.

A haunting film with superlative performances (Aamir and Rani underplay to pith-perfection, Nawazudding shines in a cameo and Kareena gives her finest performance in the last few years), Talaash is a film that will only get richer on repeated viewings… and won’t let you forget it quite so easily.

– Abhishek Bandekar

74 Responses to “GHAJINI, DHOBI GHAT & TALAASH… the ‘memory’ trilogy”

  1. thanks for this great note Abzee… you highlight a very important theme in Aamir’s recent career..

    On a different note is it the case that Kamat always signifies a Kannadiga? I certainly missed this cue in DMD. I just looked this up after reading your note:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamat

    Is there a moment or something that makes the connection clear or again is it just the case that this is primary signifier (Kannadiga) for this name even if the history seems a bit more varied?

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    • Kamath is not actually a hard-core Kannadiga. Kamat is a konkani last name; typically from Mangalore. Regionally, they are from Karnataka but linguistically, they are Konkanis.

      Also, if you notice in the film, Kamath is sent back to Karnataka during his investigation – go Gokarna – where the great Deepika spouts pot-philosophy to junkies..

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  2. wonderful note abzee. “Kareena gives her finest performance in the last few years” – exactly my view. Even Kareena herself will look back this as the finest role she did when she is past her prime time. In fact a repeat viewing will reveal lot more aspects of this wonderful movie

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  3. “In terms of numbers Talaash has gone beyond what I expected” – Aamir Khan
    By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Dec 6, 2012 – 12:39 IST

    Aamir Khan Aamir Khan has always been a pioneer of sorts paving the path for others to follow. He was the first actor to enter the now famous 100 crore club with his film Ghajini. Just as people started aiming to reach the Rs. 100 crore benchmark, Aamir raised the bar like never before with 3 Idiots which raked in a whopping Rs. 202 crores at the India B.O. That’s a record that’s yet to be broken. No wonder then that every Aamir Khan film is keenly anticipated by one and all. His latest film Talaash which released last Friday (Nov 30) took a phenomenal opening. While there have been mixed opinions on the content of the film, Aamir is unperturbed. Bollywood Hungama’s Nikhil Ramsubramaniam met up with Aamir for an exclusive interview in which the actor par excellence talks about how satisfied he is with the response to Talaash, his favourite scene from the film, his take on people leaking out the suspense and comparisons with some Hollywood classics. You don’t wanna miss reading this one…

    How happy are you with the response to Talaash (both from a B.O. point of view and from a feedback point of view)?
    I am quite happy. I think it’s gone beyond what I expected in terms of numbers and in terms of feedback as well there is a huge section of the audience which has connected with the film in exactly the way we wanted them to. A lot of people have been really affected by the film and found it very intriguing and moving and that makes me really happy.

    What are some of the best compliments that you’ve got for the film in general and for your performance in particular?
    For the film I’ve been getting a lot of messages on my phone and it will take a while for me read them all out to you. The film has had a deep impact on a lot of people in a very strong way. As far as my performance is concerned, the best compliment I received was from a friend of mine who said that “The moment I see you in the first few shots of the film as Inspector Shekhawat investigating the case, you completely make me forget all your previous characters be it Rancho or DJ or Sanjay Singhania or Nikumbh or Bhuvan. Suddenly there is a new person I see. It’s remarkable how you do that each time.” I was quite flattered by that compliment because that’s what I strive to achieve as an actor.

    Do you think that the suspense being leaked out immediately in today’s fast world of social media is a deterrent to the B.O. of films like Talaash?
    I don’t think so. If people like the film, then other people also want to go and watch it. If I am your friend and I tell you that it’s a fantastic film, chances are more often than not you will go and watch it. So it’s the feedback to the film that will decide its fate ultimately.

    Aamir Khan You are outstanding in almost every single scene of the film, which one would you pick as your favourite scene?
    There are 2 sequences that are really close to my heart. One is the scene where I am not able to sleep at night and keep getting recurring thoughts in my mind of alternative situations that could have happened with respect to my son. It’s a very moving moment in the film. I also love the underwater sequence towards the end of the film followed by the very romantic moment between Kareena and me.

    In the film your character doesn’t really believe in the supernatural. What about you in real life?
    Well I don’t believe in these things but a lot of people I know do believe in the supernatural. In fact the idea of Talaash germinated from a real life experience that happened with Zoya Akhtar. Zoya and her friends were driving near Haji Ali in Mumbai late at night when suddenly out of nowhere a stark naked woman appeared in front of them and got knocked down by their car. They stopped the car and rushed out to see if they could help the woman whose been accidentally hit but there was nobody on the road. They looked far and wide but they just couldn’t find anyone. They all freaked out. A few months later the exact same kind of incident happened to a friend of Zoya in the very same spot. That’s what sparked off the story of Talaash and Zoya along with Reema Kagti got working on the screenplay of the film.

    A lot of people felt that Kareena was the surprise package of the film. What do you have to say about her performance?
    Kareena has done a marvelous job. She is fantastic in the film. Both she and Rani are superb in the film. In fact not just the two of them but each and every actor in the film has justified his/ her character completely.

    Another actor who’s been receiving a lot of acclaim is Nawazuddin. He worked in one of your productions Peepli Live and now Talaash. How do you see his growth as an actor?
    In fact Nawaz was also there in Safarosh in a very small part. He has done a fantastic job in Talaash. I am so happy that he is doing some really good work and has tremendously evolved as an actor.

    Looking back, how was it working with Reema Kagti?
    It’s been fantastic. She is a very talented director; very sure-footed and pays a lot of attention to detail. I think she has done a wonderful job of translating onto on screen what she wrote on paper. I felt very safe in her hands.

    A lot of people felt that the pacing of the film particularly in the second half was very slow. Do you agree? Could it have been tighter?
    No I love the pace of the film. In fact it’s a very well paced film in my opinion. If you pace it up you will spoil the charm of the film.

    Aamir Khan Some people are comparing the film with Hollywood films like The Sixth Sense, Shutter Island and Insomnia? Is it a fair comparison?
    If people want to compare it with these films, I don’t have an issue. These are all great films. I am happy to be compared with these classic films. However the story of Talaash is totally different from these films. The only common thread is that these are also films which have an element of supernatural in them. It’s like saying if you’ve made one revenge film you can never again make another revenge film. It doesn’t quite work that way, isn’t it?

    After 3 Idiots, people expect every film of yours to do similar kind of roaring business. What do you have to say about that?
    I don’t look at films in terms of money. If I look back at some of my favourite films of yesteryears like Pyaasa, Garam Hawa, Mother India, Mughal- e-Azam etc, I have absolutely no idea of how many crores these films collected nor am I interested in finding out about their business. These films mean a lot to me because of how they affect me. 3 Idiots is special to all of us not because it’s done a business of Rs. 202 crores. It’s special because it’s affected us in a particular way, it moves us and inspires and changes our point of view on certain important issues. Similarly for all my films what I am looking for is the fact whether my films are affecting people and touching their hearts. That’s what matters. Figures are irrelevant.

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    • “There are 2 sequences that are really close to my heart. One is the scene where I am not able to sleep at night and keep getting recurring thoughts in my mind of alternative situations that could have happened with respect to my son. It’s a very moving moment in the film.”

      Indeed this moment was very well done. The regret of a father who keeps thinking of different ways in which he might have reacted to save his son.

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  4. Thanks for this wonderful note. I really missed this aspect.

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  5. “I don’t look at films in terms of money. If I look back at some of my favourite films of yesteryears like Pyaasa, Garam Hawa, Mother India, Mughal- e-Azam etc, I have absolutely no idea of how many crores these films collected nor am I interested in finding out about their business. These films mean a lot to me because of how they affect me. 3 Idiots is special to all of us not because it’s done a business of Rs. 202 crores. It’s special because it’s affected us in a particular way, it moves us and inspires and changes our point of view on certain important issues. Similarly for all my films what I am looking for is the fact whether my films are affecting people and touching their hearts. That’s what matters. Figures are irrelevant.”

    A valid point – 3i, TZP, DG, DCH, Lagaan, Talaash….these films will be remembered more for its content than the b.o. – so i believe that aamir gets tremendous sense of inner satisfaction by doing these diff genere of films knowing very well that he can easily do 10 ghajini or 10 dabaang and earn obscene amount of money – that alone should speak volumes for this man. He is in his hey days and people would give blank cheques to him but he does something his heart tells……how many actors do this?

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  6. This seems a very good piece — after the film may read it properly & I suspect this may turn out the best talaash piece here imo
    The ‘memory’ connection is apt
    Also the slightly melancholic dreamy even grief laden vibe is shared in this ‘trilogy’

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  7. An excellent note Abzee, especially in how you’ve articulated the connective tissue of memory that thematically binds these three films…what’s especially interesting is you have three films that are not only very different in terms of subject matter but also in the audience/demographic they’re pitched to. Ghajini is obviously the most overtly commercial film, Dhobi Ghat a kind of festival curio and now Talaash which splits the difference a bit…

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  8. Kind of on similar lines-
    ‘Ghajini’ to ‘Talaash’: Search, a recurring theme in all of Aamir Khan’s films
    http://ibnlive.in.com/news/ghajini-to-talaash-search-a-recurring-theme-in-all-of-aamir-khans-films/308166-8-66.html

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  9. I am not as adept as most here in assessing what the finer points of Hindi film are given the long history. But I can say that I have seen many of the films mentioned here..almost by accident..and I’m glad I have. Dhobi Ghat..Ghajini..Laagan…3 Idiots..to name a few..and I agree..Amir is a def leader in paving the way despite the perfection moniker attached to him..I think he just loves his work.

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  10. Nice to hear from u Margaret
    Agree that aamir is certainly ‘ paving his own path’ & showing the other lesser mortals the way..
    How did u catch Bollywood by mistake —
    And who are your favorite stars/films. Cheers

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    • Satyam..I came across your blog by accident..a happy one…
      AA..well..if I told you that Jodhaa Akbar was the first Hindi movie I saw you’d laugh..then it was Om Shanti Om..and it all went downhill from there..lol..no seriously..I just started looking at what people were talking about and thats how I picked the movies..blame NetFlix 🙂

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      • @ margaret–same here
        Some good things happen by accident
        So what were your views on jodaa akbar–I actually liked it..

        @sanjana–good write up
        Good to see talaash Inspiring a piece from u

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        • Truthfully..I couldnt believe it was so long when I had always thought Gone With The Wind was a long movie..lol..so I had to get used to the fact that Hindi films had alot going on. It was a great movie ..very cinematic on every scale..even going so far as winning at IIFA. ..then I started watching other Asian films..Korean..Chinese..Japanese..and saw that all of them had the grandiose productions..but no singing and dancing..just over the top visuals like Red Cliff…So Hindi movies are closer in content to HollyWood but not to be compared..they are separate..and maybe Baz Luhrman thrown in for good measure.

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      • LOL Margaret! u can share ur fav films too!! from the ones u have seen hollywood!

        Bollywood is fun imo though 🙂

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  11. Just revisited this ghajini song
    Quite an atypical ‘normal traditional’ song by rehman here but even in this back to basics style, he tweaks in some built in goodness
    guzaaariiiiiish

    Btw remember this was a really tight gripping film–perhaps the best of this south/masala wave

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  12. My impressions.

    You cannot have the cake and eat it too.

    When you make a film like Talaash, it is definitely directed at the thinking public than those who try to leave their brains behind literally. Thus great boxoffice success is ruled out. But this film is so delicious for the thinking public(which may not mean that they are Einsteins) that films like 3 Idiots pale in comparison.

    While Kahaani to which Talaash is being compared to by many, has a person who is wronged and takes revenge, Talaash’s protagonist suffers a loss due to unavoidable circumstances and there is no revenge angle here. Yes, the ghost takes revenge but the ghost’s revenge is not linked to the protagonist’s loss in any way.
    Is it a thriller or a suspense drama? Or just a series of events which has more to do with the humdrum life of a cop touched by a sympathetic ghost?

    The red light area and the world of blackmailers, filmstars are only part of the dark world of mumbai. The builders and politicians are left out mercifully. We try to ignore this world and most of us are quite uncomfortable to even think deeply about their lives. We know that this world exists and it is linked to so many crimes and criminals but this is only part of the truth. More than crime, this part signifies human misery and the failure of the so called Ngos, the system, the government and the society. What is women and child welfare department is doing in the face of human trafficking taking place?

    Kareena is the philosophising prostitute who just could not do anything while alive and try to take revenge as a ghost. This is what an ordinary helpless person dreams to do when the system fails him or her.

    Tehmur is a hard nut to crackwhen she is alive. This reminds me of one of Dicken’s short stories where a victim dreams of taking revenge in various ways .

    The wife has to contend with a ghost and she herself is ready to deal with the paranormal in the hope of somehow establishing contact and talk to her dead son. Her loss is so great that her husband’s infidelity does not matter that much for her. This is how mothers are. The first priority is always their kids.

    Tehmur’s story is quite interesting. His love, sacrifice and his ambition add hues to his character. His ruthless character is redeemed by his act of love and faithfulness to the one woman he loves. But this is rare.

    The water, the sea is the other character. The force of nature is at once bewildering and awesome. It is full of life and it is also a killer. It is silent and calm at times and also very loud and fearsome when it strikes. When one drowns, one does not feel pain but one is simply overwhelmed and helpless as the water just engulfs.

    The hero’s act of burning the remains. Symbolic act of burning away the memories and starting life afresh. But does this really help? If it is so easy, we wont need shrinks but only a matchbox or a lighter.

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  13. http://www.exchange4media.com/48996_talaash-takes-subtle-marketing-approach.html

    Has being selective worked for ‘Talaash’?
    According to industry sources, ‘Talaash’ netted around Rs 44 crore on the first weekend. The box office collections for the first week are estimated to be around Rs 60 crore or more. The numbers indicate that the film has observed a good opening and is also expected to sustain its collections.

    With the movie faring well at the box office, exchange4media takes a look at the various promotional activities undertaken by the production house.

    Read on.

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  14. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/satyamev-jayate-vs-talaash-should-aamir-khan-practise-what-he-preached/309236-8-66.htm

    In that case, he cant play negative roles too.

    At the most he can play Gautam Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi etc.

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    • ha! so many people get to justify their paychecks every time aamir does anything (probably including going to the bathroom) by writing judgmental and utterly idiotic ‘articles’. everybody needs to make a living after all.

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  15. Good points there sanjana
    U seem to be in ‘flow’

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  16. 🙂
    Lol @ ‘overflow’–twist?
    Haaw sanjana –u r becoming a naughty mind haha

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  17. I have typed out some excerpts from an interview with Aamir, Screen, latest issue; interview not available in print. It’s there in the Talaash and the rest of Box office thread. Some straight talking there. Do read.

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  18. SM, you posted this review elsewhere:

    http://www.madaboutmoviez.com/2012/12/talaash-renamed-chudail-ka-badla/

    I’ll respond to it here since that thread is now closed. First off this this review is written at least as sloppily as the writer thinks the film has been directed! But I’ll respond to one key point here (SPOILERS)…

    It is not that Aamir has a psychological crisis and starts imagining ghosts but that the ghost literally appears to him! The Fight Club analogy is therefore absurd. It is as if the writer has not even seen the film! The ghost is an ‘actual’ presence in the film and not a figment of anyone’s imagination. She can reveal herself to whoever she wishes. In this case she reveals herself to Aamir and then to others at the time of their death. As for that interval scene Kareena has a line there but not an exchange with Teimur. It just seems that way. Had she really spoken to him he would have been as shocked as he was to encounter her just before his death.

    Now the objection seems valid that if the ghost is only seen through Aamir’s perspective why is it appearing otherwise? Well because once again the ghost is ‘objectively’ present in this world. Who she chooses to show herself to is a different question from whether she is there at all. And she is. Once again not sure what film the writer has seen. If she were’s Aamir’s imagining this criticism would be true.

    I should lastly say something about some of the more ‘logical’ inconsistencies in terms of time and so on. Someone else said this too. why did the ghost wait three years to exact its revenge? The answer is: you can’t read ghost stories so literally. That is not the point of the story. But to the extent there is one the three year specification or whatever (in other films) is simply arbitrary meant to reinforce the sense of the mythic or more precisely create an ‘archaic’ pre-history for the tale. Much as having a site where terrible incidents happen again and again has a reason behind it but it too serves to increase the ‘horror’ aspect surrounding these. The same site keeps re-appearing. If you had the same revenge exacted on very different sites it wouldn’t have the same impact at all.

    Now I could take apart many other things in this piece as well but this central bit stood out and quite amazed me.

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  19. Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

    Well written piece here Abhishek, Loved the connection you made with DMD. I dont know if the movie is going to hit box office gold, But it certainly has hit gold here at SS. It brought out many from their sabbaticals and write a piece, and give so many different point of views on the film. This is one of the reason’s why I keep coming back here. So much to learn, really diverse thoughts from each and everyone.

    Saurabh, I have not seen your take on this, (unless you did already) Would love to read a whole piece from your end.

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    • I want to make a point on Aamir related to what you’re saying. I’ve long felt this, used to say this many years ago as well, and especially highlighted it when Abhishek was doing well and people would come up with all sorts of absurd excuses to deny the obvious (many still do indicating the depth of the trauma, not just about the past but about any possible future!). The thing is that Salman doing as enormously well as he has been since Dabanng doesn’t really bother anyone. Whether people are fans of his or not they don’t really mind his success, even though they were least expecting it even a day before it happened! Let’s leave out Abhishek because the ‘Bachchan’ discussion is always a complicated one and additionally I’ve talked about it a lot. But Aamir’s success has disturbed a lot more people. Of course his prestige is simply the greatest in his generation and beyond, no one even comes close. Everyone respects what he’s been trying to do. Nonetheless it also makes many people very antsy. Salman coming out of nowhere and delivering one massive initial after another doesn’t bother anyone though. Why should there be this difference?

      Precisely because the Salman brand of cinema can be dismissed as ‘silly stuff that we all enjoy but of course don’t have to take seriously’. Not just this but much like with Akshay the multiplex audiences can really ‘condescend’ to him in a way. ‘We love watching this stuff but let’s face it, he’s only capable of doing this or only good at this’! With Aamir though the stakes are also more ideological. Which is why incidentally the media never gave him his due as a box office force till Ghajini came along. Aamir has really beaten everyone into submission with constant success. Taran and Nahta for example weren’t eagerly jumping on the bandwagon otherwise. Even with all this they support Salman whole-heartedly the way they don’t Aamir. Some of it is personality and so on, Aamir is a more reserved guy who for most of his career hasn’t really been interested in fostering these media relationships (not surprisingly he started using the media effectively beginning with Ghajini, started doing the rounds and so forth.. not that this is a guarantee.. Abhishek has always done this, they still play dirty with him but this is again a more complicated issue). But it’s also that this ideological choices are clear.

      And so completely logically the SRK fans often tend to hate him the most. If it were only about a SRK peer doing so well they should have had the same problem with Salman. But they don’t. It’s because Aamir’s success cancels out SRK’s. or rather the premise for Aamir’s success deconstructs that for SRK’s. After Aamir SRK’s brand cinema became a half-way house between prestige films (that Aamir was associated with) and the really lowbrow attempts that became successful (masala-comedies or whatever). Today people scoff at yashraj love stories. Even when they do relatively you don’t want to be caught liking them in any kind of hip setting! So on and so forth. This is what Aamir has brought about. Even people who are not really into different films have to accept the seriousness and worthiness of what Aamir is doing. But the SRK fan is just the most obvious symptom of this. It holds for some of the others too. People using bizarre theories to deconstruct Aamir, trying to set the bar in all sorts of unfair ways, trying to use the result of one film or another to cancel out an extraordinary one for more than a decade (with others it’s the exact opposite.. miserable decade-long careers are apparently made up for with one shining moment of some sort) etc etc.

      It’s not like Abhishek for the ‘Bachchan’ reasons and of course Aamir has been very consistently successful. But in many ways the way he’s been treated by the media and so on (when others did 100 crores it was a 100 crore club, what about a 200 crore club?!… when SRK had big grossers no one said Aamir could do the same, when the shoe was on the other foot the assumption was, or at least peddled about, that SRK could do exactly the same..) even more unfairly precisely because he’s been so successful. In other words it shouldn’t have taken till Ghajini! But even since there has been a great deal of framing that minimally gives the credit in equal measure to some of his peers. Just think about what these same folks would have said if SRK had had a Lagaan, a DCH, a TZP, a RDB, and then followed it up with Ghajni and 3I. Think about what the fans would have said. However much Aamir is being praised in the media it is nothing compared to what this other reception would have been. And so today when BOI otherwise print a garbage piece fit for consumptions by the brain-dead (or folks so partisan it’s a dangerous medical condition) about how Talaash much like JTHJ isn’t matching Salman’s benchmarks it is part of this larger narrative that has always been there. In short Aamir wouldn’t be able to survive a serious failure or two by this narrative. They’d immediately put three people ahead of him. Meanwhile consider how many times SRK has underperformed or outright failed since 2004. And they’re still grouping him with Aamir! Salman might as well have been a fossil before Wanted. But once this happened and specially after Dabanng the conceit was ‘oh it was always like this’. Yeah I guess what’s a decade between partisans?!

      Even on this blog I see evidence of all these attitudes all the time. There are very many who are not necessarily huge fans of one of these stars but who are just more comfortable rooting for SRK. Or not as thrilled with an Aamir success at some deep level. The ideological angle in cinema is always very important. Aamir’s career and his ‘reception’ are classic examples of this. It is only an edgier cinema that creates this response.

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      • i completely agree with everything. now let’s wait for all the nice folks to come out of the woodwork and make with the denials.
        it’s true what they say, you have arrived when people start hating you, by those standards aamir has truly arrived.
        but i think the ideology behind all this are attitudes of basic conformity. people hate people who refuse to get with the program. and aamir refused to sign the blood oath to bow down to the industry and media cult pretty early on in his career. he refused to suck up, he did things his own way and to hell with everything. nobody likes that. ergo, they hate him.
        everybody else’s success has pretty much resulted from toeing the line and playing it safe. whether, it’s playing up to the gallery, jumping on every ‘wave’ bandwagon or repeating themselves ad nauseam in the name of keeping ‘fans’ happy. it’s a good thing he is so secure, anybody else would get nervous with this kind of commentary. but this is the guy who took a 4-yr break to deal with his broken family after a freaking oscar nomination (what, actors have feelings? you don’t say!). so he has gotten pretty good at this and seems completely at ease with himself, ignoring all the white noise.

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        • and consider this — he took longer on Talaash and this delayed D2. Normally stars don’t delay films like D2 for films like Talaash! And now because of the D2 delay he’s delayed the Hirani film. You don’t delay a film with the guy who gave you an astonishing total the last time around! And by the way he was among the producers on Talaash. This wasn’t how it started out with this film. This whole idea that he takes cynical decisions is absurd. if that were the case he’d be doing Ghajini and 3I forever. Many of his films were risky including Talaash. yes he has a great brain for this stuff and can figure out a script within a risky genre that can have minimal acceptance (clearly he’s not going to do a film just because it’s radical.. on the other hand Aamir isn’t an intellectual sort of guy either.. he’s interested in meaningful cinema within commercial parameters and/or mass formats with some minimal intelligence to them.. he’s had a fairly modest aim in this sense.. but of course for the bankrupt industry he belongs to even this is revolutionary!). But that doesn’t mean the genre stops being risky. So beyond a point this perverse logic developed where people who initially thought the films were risky and wouldn’t work (I remember some salivating when RDB was about to release.. they felt they had him with MP and the director of Aks didn’t have much of a track record) have over time started holding the success of the same against him (‘if these were so risky how did they work’?!). The point in any case is that if Aamir truly believes in a film and thinks it can connect with an audience he’ll take it on even if it’s risky. So here he is as one of the producers on Talaash.

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          • yes, he has a good gut for the best ‘intermediate’ stuff. it’s actually easier to go full commercial or full ‘hatke’, harder to walk the fine line but he has done well choosing projects. he has said several times how much he likes mainstream commercial cinema. but he has gone about his own way ignoring breaking unspoken industry rules about how things should be done and ignoring the media. but they hate him most because he remains unfazed. he is freakishly zen these days.

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          • i am not changing the terms. did i even mention abhi anywhere? i think you are confusing me with satyam. when did i ever give credit to abhi for different films 🙂

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          • “So if he’s not getting credit it’s not because of Abhishek and his fans!”- Huh! Satyam before i argue with the rest of ur comment let me get to this. I clearly remember how during BB’s release many people here were saying how Devgn is not at all important to the film and how the gross depends on Abhishek. So let me declare this- I AM STILL WAITING FOR A SOLO ABHISHEK FILM TO DO 100 CRORES

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          • Maybe the Abhishek fans have as much patience as you do! How long did you have to wait for a solo Devgan to cross 50 let alone a 100? Singham in 2011? Wasn’t this his first major solo hit (not that he was getting too many even with others) since Phool aur Kaante?

            By the way I stand by everything I said about BB. I can’t take responsibility for what others said.

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          • Actually I am reframing the arguement. All I am saying is ” should devgn not get any credit for doing many such films”? What do U think? Btw I never mentioned Rajneeti

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          • who said that he doesn’t deserve any credit?!

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          • But I have NEVER seen u giving Devgn credit for doing such films or making his case

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        • Actually Devgn has done as many ‘different’ films as Aamir- Zakhm, Thakshak, Yuva, Gangaajal, Aakrosh, Apahran, Omkara, Company, Tera Mera Saath Rahe, Halla Bol.

          Aamir- MP, RDB, Earth, Raakh, Talaash, Dhobhi Ghaat, Lagaan, TZP

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          • you’re defining anything half-sensible Devgan does as different (by the way you forgot Raincoat and LOBS)! By that token every single Aamir film should be on that list beginning with Sarfarosh barring a couple! Are we going to define Rajneeti as ‘different’ just because Jha directed them? One doesn’t start comparing Saathiya with Dil Se just because Ratnam is behind each of them (Saathiya is a remake but the point stands)! What’s so special about Apharan? I could grant Gangajal a bit more. Again Aakrosh was very ordinary for that terrain and specially when it released. But again the point you’re missing is (and since you introduced the box office) that most of these films were not done out of a commitment towards interesting or meaningful cinema but because Devgan was drifting into nothing through most of the 90s (I know because I remember most of those film!). This was his pitch to get noticed again. But this isn’t why Aamir started doing it or why Abhishek did the same. If you just include different without any sense of context you’d even have to include Abhishek’s Shararat! using your lax guidelines I could make a list for SRK that includes Darr, KHKN, Koyla, dil Se, Josh, Paheli, CDI, Asoka, Swades, Maya Memsaab, Oh Darling yeh Hai India, Chahat, maybe a couple of others. How about a Hrithik list that includes Fiza, JA, Guzaarish, ZNMD, Lakshya?!

            You can’t just name everything in sight that is not mercilessly commercial! And since you introduced the box office point how does Devgan’s list compare with Aamir’s? Again not denying Devgan anything but you seem to have a number of different arguments here. Whether he’s a fine actor or not based on these decisions, whether he gets as much credit or not, whether Abhishek has as much box office success or not, whether he’s done as much as Aamir or not. Don’t you think you’re constantly reframing the argument to somehow ‘win’ something for Devgan? No one’s denying the obvious here at all. But it’s about larger contexts and what each one of those projects means. Abhishek did Phir Milenge, a film I rather like, but in most of these discussions I talk about D6 or Raavan not PM. For the same reasons!

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          • i wasn’t even comparing different films. i don’t think even aamir’s films were that different, he makes middle-of-the-road efforts. aamir has been more successful in it, that’s all. chalk it up to better script sense, dumb luck whatever. and i don’t know how we got to this point.
            i was trying to say that he refuses to conform in many ways (sucking up to media, dancing at award functions, change lanes and stick to what’s working to minimize risk etc.) this is a guy who was called one film wonder and kumar gaurav 2 years after his successful debut. instead of giving in and making more of an effort to be ‘popular”, he shut down media, decided to do one film at a time and always worked in films that were not ‘in’, even when commercial. he did qsqt, dhkmn, jjws early in his career. when romance/family dramas became hugely popular after ddlj & hahk, he did 1947, sarfarosh, ghulam and made rgv a household name with rangeela (he was a more niche director until then). not even a single copycat romantic drama attempt at this time, but did a 60’s style masala film like raja hindustani, which was laughed off as downmarket and regressive but became successfull (same people who love k786’s of today). so there are ways to walk a different path, i didn’t mean the films themselves. of course, if all this had failed post late 90’s, may be he would have sold out or disappeared, i don’t know. but judging by how he has been able to stick to his guns even at the worst times (and he had more to lose, devgan was never as big as aamir), i don’t believe so. he has made a career out of subverting expectations (creative, economic and social) and that’s what i like about him.

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          • i don’t know how we started discussing abhi (satyam, i am looking at you) and devgan (saurabh, i am looking at you). my original comment was not meant as comparison or to downgrade anyone, just general musings on the aamir khan hate club phenomenon 🙂

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          • Abhishek was referenced in my original comment. On the rest I think Saurabh’s arguing with me and not your comments.

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      • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

        All valid points and nicely laid out. I echo your comment if aamir had a huge faliure what would happen then? Think if he had Done a Raavan or a Ra.one what would media have done then? Given that Jr. was backlashed to no end on that, I would see a same sceanario happenning with Aamir, and Imagine if he had done a Ra.one, Ha the media is calling it a Hit while we all know it was a disaster, and when counting 100 cr films, Ra.One is counted as one of the Hits along with it. Now, lets do a switch, Imagine if SRK had done Raavan? would that have been different from media’s perspective? Would it have been considered a hit? Cause we know Raavan did open with a bang, and it did collect good at the BO on its first weekend, (Which is being subdued by the media right now). Anyways, All valid points satyam sir, We can’t really fight these battles, Just hope and pray for good cinema to prevail, that’s all doesn’t matter where it comes from.

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      • Some comprehensive Satyamesque points Satyam. But in case of Abhishek it’s also the other way round in the sense that someone like me who is a die-hard fan of The Great One is always happy to see him succeed simply bcos he wants the son of Bachchan to be successful. Having said that some like Devgn never get any credit for their success even when they do different films.

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        • so he decided to give up those ‘different’ films and got with the program. now it’s all golmaal and singham etc. and as soon as he did; and those films got any level of success, media was all ‘look how devgan is doing so well’
          the point is, you need to conform to what’s in to get success and only then you get any credit. so media has no trouble praising devgan now. and he is happy minting money. good for him. most others are doing the same. because it’s easier.

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          • But tell me 3 ‘different’ films of Abhishek which have been successful commercially. Devgn kept taking risks till Aakrosh bombed. And let’s not forget that amongst today’s stars he was the first to do those different films in the form of Zakhm and Thakshak back in late 90’s- It’s high time he gets credit for it

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          • you are changing the terms of the debate first of all. Leaving this aside is Devgan really the first of his generation? Aamir did Raakh even before QSQT was completed. He changed course very early in his career. Did Rangeela when RGV was truly hip in those days. Did Earth and Sarfarosh. SRK himself tried a lot of stuff in the 90s. Did Darr early on. A smaller film like KHKN. He did Ratnam’s first Hindi film and pretty radical one at that. Even a bit later did Asoka.

            RGV incidentally wanted Abhishek for Company though the latter didn’t do it then. But Yuva grossed more or less as much as Company, actually a little more. Has Devgan ever had a Guru moment (to counter your own question)? Or what three different films has Devgan had great success in? Aren’t most of his efforts in this directions either failures or commercial disasters? How much did even Zakhm gross?I’ve always said this. It’s easy to blame Abhishek and perhaps he took too many risks but who else not called Aamir has truly prospered doing different? And even Aamir has not prospered doing D6 or Dil Se! In the very best phase of his career Devgan does Aakrosh (still a far more accessible film than D6 or something) and it’s not that it doesn’t work but that no one shows up. What about Raincoat? Why? Again just countering your question because you introduced this topic. Let me put it this way.. what important film has Devgan does WITH Abhishek where he’s got more credit than the latter? You have Yuva at one end, BB at the other.

            If you nonetheless want to give Devgan credit for doing films like LOBS and Zakhm and maybe a couple of others I think Abhishek should be given a whole lot more for many of his choices (that incidentally were made from positions of strength.. after 2005 he could have gone down a safer path.. Devgan on the other hand was getting wiped before he started reinventing himself). And let’s also accept that when Abhishek signed many of those films those were marquee efforts that most in the industry wouldn’t have given an arm and leg for. Three films with Ratnam? Mehra’s first post-RDB film? Of course Mehra has considered Abhishek for a number of projects including his debut one and including RDB where he offered Abhishek both key roles! There wasn’t exactly a clamor to do LOBS or Raincoat or Zakhm with all due respect. anyway I’m not playing some kind of competitive game here but you tend to bring up Devgan more and more often everytime Abhishek is mentioned. I think Devgan’s issues would remain whether or not Abhishek were around. So if he’s not getting credit it’s not because of Abhishek and his fans!

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          • But Antya u are changing the terms of the debate. I am not debating over the quality of those ‘different’ films of Devgn but that if Abhishek gets credit for doing edgier stuff Devgn too should. And if u thought Thakshak (admittedly Bose got more praise for it but he also got a more crowd pleasing part. Thakshak to my mind is one of the best films of that decade) wasn’t edgy then IMO NONE of Abhishek’s films are edgy. And while I do love Zakhm i too think Naam as well as Saaransh, Kabzaa and Arth were better efforts

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        • Saurabh, the thing is that even in this very bankrupt industry and imbecilic (when not corrupt) media environment, and even with an audience that is essentially in it to watch Race and Houseful, the authentic effort shines through. You can praise all kinds of stars for all kinds of roles all the time but the truly extraordinary outing does register in a singular way. I haven’t seen Devgan do anything remotely close to Yuva or Guru as a performance (there are many others too but I’m mentioning a couple that everyone seems to agree on). I don’t consider him special even otherwise but that’s another matter. But who’s not accepting Devgan? They gave him a national award as I recall! The media has praised him. Has he ever got the Guru sort of attention? No. But hardly anyone else has either barring the father for Black or Paa. More recently Ranbir got a lot of attention for Rockstar. Now one can agree or disagree with all of this but it’s not as if everyone’s getting celebrated. even accounting for the overrating prevalent today.

          On wanting Abhishek to succeed because of attachment to his father and hence the name that’s a factor but it is also made up by the much greater burden he walks with every day. No one’s comparing Devgan to anyone else much less Amitabh bachchan! But also it’s not as if Tushar were Bachchan’s son and people would have the same expectation. Ultimately you have to do it on your own. You have to be credible on your own. But even when you are, as Abhishek was with his high points, you still cannot ‘beat’ Amitabh Bachchan. So the burden of inheritance in this case far outweighs any advantage.

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          • That’s fine Satyam (i ofcourse don’t agree with ur assessment of Devgn’s acting but that’s another matter) but what I am saying is that shouldn’t Devgn get ‘some’ credit by folks (including you) for continuously trying to work in ‘edgier films throughout the late 90’s as well as most part of the last decade. He started doing such films when no one else used to them.

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          • Giving him credit for doing some of these films and considering him a good actor are two different things.

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          • devgan got a lot of attention for those films, including, as satyam mentioned, a national award. those films were just not successful. that’s hardly media’s fault, nobody wanted to see them. and for the record, i don’t consider those films different. bhatt has made plenty of films like these, naam was a much more authentic effort than zakhm. thakshak? that was just a dressed up masala film, and rahul bose got more attention there. his only truly risky film at that time was gangajal. then jha started making dressed up gangajals.
            and he is good with certain kinds of roles and emotions but is nowhere near as versatile as aamir (my favorite devgan role is hddcs, he was a nice contrast to the vapid prettiness of ash and salman)
            it may be that he is just not as good at selecting projects. he floated a production house and made the hot mess that was raju chacha. and that movie with kajol he directed, i cant remember the name. you can’t just do different films, you also have to do the right ones. and it is not aamir’s fault that he gets it right more often than not.

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    • Thanks Kash but you are being far too kind. honestly I don’t have the talent to even blabber on such an honest film. In any case Satyam, GF, Abzee, An Jo and even Ami and Antya have covered almost everything possible- ab bas Q ke likhne ki baari hai. I did put up some thoughts on Night Vision thread just yesterday apart from the ones on Talaash B.O thread- Some earlier points related to Talaash-

      (Loved this note Satyam but wish you would have written more on the Cimino film. The Deer Hunter is my single most favourite hollywood movie. And i was ecstatic to find the poster of the film in the dead actor’s house in Talaash (in the scene where Aamir goes to the actor’s house to inform and inquire her wife regarding the death). There is also a poster of Eraserhead there and I strongly feel that Reema Kagti was somewhere inspired by themes of both films but particularly that of The Deer Hunter. A correspondence could be established between the motifs and the central protagonists of both films- both movie are about ‘closure’. as in about closing the chapters in life and trying to move on. They are also about the catharsis that precedes the closure. Deer Hunter has soldiers accepting their defeat by dehumanizing their enemy. It was about how they adjust to failure and handle the self blame. In Talaash too, the principal protagonist is coping up with self blame and somehow finds a solution. And then there is the theme of ‘disillusionment’ common to both films

      When I first saw The Deer Hunter I found it emotionally shattering. And to my mind it is the greatest epic film in Hollywood after The Godfather.)

      (Superb point here Satyam. And just like Abzee pointed out with respect to the 3 Aamir films, I would say that in Kaala Patthar too Vijay Pal Singh has to go to a ‘foreign land’ (mines) in order to deal with those visions and memories (and notice how for people like Vijay, who hail from a well-to-do family from Bombay, Bihar in any case is culturally foreign). And if we were to talk abt KP in noir terms (and to extend ur ‘spirits in the mines’ point further) probably Vijay is searching for those haunting dreams and memories in those mines but in the same manner in which Rosie remains a mystery for Surire Vijay’s memories too remain an “elusive phenomenon … always just out of reach”. And I say ‘out of reach’ because inspite of Vijay saving people from the disaster he is ultimately unable to save Mangal so his path to redemption is not A fully completed)

      Great comment Satyam. and at the risk of somewhat ‘objectifying’ you i must say that you are the best portal through which a Bachchan fan can access Bachchan in totality.never heard of Lord Jim but now want to read the book. And I have also noticed that whenever in films Bachchan has not aligned himself with the marginalised communities he has to pay a price which is worse than his own death- in Namak Haram he loses his own brother-like- friend when he refuses to side with the mill workers and even in Pukaar just bcos of a misunderstanding he runs the risk of becoming a traitor and an anti-national (and imagine one of the biggest ‘national’ icon in that Pukar role…ironic). Also something I wrote earlier- https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/from-anand-to-bemisaal-variations-on-a-mukherjee-theme/#comment-192700

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      • Bachchan1 to 10 Says:

        Aah, Nice to read your take on this, did read some earlier, but I missed out on the Deer Hunter reference, Nicely put, Makes me wonder now, Thanks buddy.

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