Cornered with appreciation and criticism for his remake of his Tamil film Ghajini, director A.R Murugadoss is celebrating the tremendous success of the film. With a track record of making blockbuster films, his first Hindi project too has gone on to become a great victory.
In conversation with Businessofcinema.com, Murugadoss speaks his mind on why he had to remake Ghajini, the monotony of making the film, and his heart-felt response to a few critics who bashed the film.
Remaking a film exactly as the original version, doesn’t it get a bit boring?
Remaking a film is always boring. But the truth is when you have an actor like Aamir Khan in the film, you end up being excited working on it. I had thought for myself that I will never remake a film, so even my story of Ramana was remade by another director. But I did not want to give up the chance of working with Aamir Khan So I decided to do the film myself.
But you approached Aamir Khan, which means you had already decided to remake the film.
(Smiles) No, we didn’t plan to remake the film. All we knew was that this was a film that would get remade. My only thought was if we could get a big star to do the film I wouldn’t mind remaking the film. I never even thought that Aamir Khan would like the film, so as soon as he decided that he liked the film I didn’t want to let go of the chance.
There has been too much talk of the film being different in the last 20 minutes. Having seen the Tamil Ghajini, one can say that it’s more a case of omission than anything new in the remake.
No it’s not that. If you look at it, the fact that the villains were twins in the old one and in this one its one person itself is a big difference isn’t it? If that is not all, the memory loss aspect was used in the Hindi film whereas it wasn’t the case in the Tamil film. The Tamil audience themselves feel that the film has been treated differently.
Too much talk of Ghajini being like Memento and being inspired from it.
I liked the character from Memento. I thought it would be interesting if my main protagonist suffered from memory loss, but beyond that the film is nothing like Memento. I saw Memento after I finished writing this film, after completing the script I thought it would be interesting and then made changes to the revenge-seeking character.
Even technically the Tamil and Hindi Ghajini are quite similar. Why make the same thing when you had the opportunity to do something different.
(Laughs) It was such that I’d keep wanting to change every scene and was adamant about it. But then Aamir felt that the scenes in the original film were better. Also the scenes in the Tamil Ghajini worked in the film’s favor, so we thought we shouldn’t change it. We only changed scenes that did not work in the Tamil film.
So in a sense you have played very safe with this film isn’t it?
Absolutely. The reason for that was that there is no risk in this film. It was a sure shot film, it is ultimately meant to be a commercial entertainer. So in that aspect there was nothing much to experiment or take risks about. So because the film has a lot of aspects that the audience will enjoy, you can call it safe.
Mixed responses from critics for the Hindi Ghajini, whereas the Tamil version attained both critical and commercial success.
A lot of people approached me and appreciated the fact that there is no vulgarity in the film and the fact that a pure and beautiful love story is there in it. Although you see Aamir Khan’s six pack abs, there isn’t a scene in the film where the leading ladies’ bodies have been shown. There isn’t even a kissing scene. Things like these have not even been mentioned by the critics where as the audiences have acknowledged it. Today, where every film has a kissing or a bedroom scene after a few dialogues, Ghajini has none of it although it has a beautiful love story in it.
I had a fair idea that the critics will perhaps not take to liking the film too much. One of the critics commented on the screenplay. I treated the film as a book, where one chapter begins and the other ends at key areas. A lot of critics didn’t even mention this aspect. Getting the audience to understand memory loss and revenge itself is a difficult task, while all the other films have associated memory loss and humour.
We had the same amount of difficulty researching and making Ghajini that goes into making a period drama, or perhaps even more. Even Aamir has put in so much effort into getting the look and character right. There is great detail in the film and one should not write it down by saying it’s a commercial film.
It might very well be so, but then appreciate and acknowledge the work gone into making the film. There is no scene in the film that is predictable; you cannot guess what will happen next. But no one even raised that and appreciated that. I would have been happier if they had acknowledged the positives in the film as well.
Why did you choose to resurrect the 80s’ stereotyped villain for a film like Ghajini, where the characters are everything for the film?
The thing is we discussed this point numerous times. But when looking at it a lot of rowdies are like this in real life. We can’t dismiss the fact that such characters exist in reality. For this story such characterization fit the bill perfectly. We didn’t look at past films and then decided that yes this is what we want to be doing, the character stemmed from reality.
Between the Tamil and Hindi Ghajini, which one do you think works and is better?
I like the Hindi Ghajini at least four times better than the Tamil one. I’ll tell you the reason for that as well. I got to correct all the mistakes I made in the Tamil film by making the Hindi one. To my capacity I can call the Hindi Ghajini a perfect film when compared to the Tamil one. What the critics think is a totally different matter. What I wanted to try I managed to do in the Hindi film, which I couldn’t in the Tamil film.
Ghajini has got less shows in multiplexes because of the duration of the film, never considered editing it further to ensure more shows?
We tried to cut down on the length of the film a lot many times, but we just couldn’t. The story was getting affected. We nearly tried over five times and each time we saw that the impact of the story got affected, so we decided against it.
Lastly, what are the differences you thought are evident having worked here in Bollywood when compared to the Tamil film industry?
One of the major differences I felt was the fact that in the Tamil film industry, the people involved in a project have a sense of attachment with the film. They treat the film as their own. In Bollywood that feeling is a bit missing, here people work with great sincerity but that feeling is not quite there. Another aspect is that here planning is fantastic. There is not a day wasted here, excepting for when it rains (Laughs). You will never see a problem arise on the sets because something is not done, where as in the south you will find that.