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What Is the Meaning of the Word 'Ghajini'? Story and Trivia of Aamir Khan's New Film [Special]

[Special Entry]

Aamir Khan in his latest film Ghajini poster

Aamir Khan's latest film is titled a little weirdly for the taste of Hindi filmgoers. 'Ghajini': They have never heard of such a name, and such a word never existed in Hindi or in any other Indian language.

The name Ghajini is the name of the villain of the film. In Tamil version, the name of the villain was Laxman.

As a Tamil moviegoer, I have already watched Ghajini and know the story in full.

So, What Does the Title Mean?

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 (my own language), 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.

More About Ghajini

Ghajini was released worldwide on December 24, 2008. I believe that the story is already popular; many have watched the Tamil version or the original film, Memento, which inspired it. This film has been one of the largest blockbusters of Tamil in 2005.

I truly believe that this Hindi version takes so much verve, action, and suspense as the Tamil one. Ghajini is highly inspiring, entertaining, and frightening till the very end.

Ghajini is inspired from the Christopher Nolan thriller, Memento, released in 2000. The Tamil Ghajini director, A R Murugadoss, directs it in Hindi too, and this is his first Hindi film. Malayalam actress, Asin Thottumkal makes her Hindi debut with this film.
Aamir Khan the superstar perfectionist
Asin in Ghajini

Aamir Khan doesn't need an introduction to the Bollywood fans worldwide. The superstar is the oldest and most experienced of the three Khans of Hindi, Shah Rukh, Salman, and Aamir himself (all of whom are 43). He is at the top of film news every time his movies get released, because Aamir doesn't act in many movies; his face comes once or twice in a year in very unique movies.

The Hindi film's perfectionist has a huge fan following worldwide, and is recognized as one of the biggest stars in the history of Indian cinema. With Taare Zameen Par (which is his directorial debut), he has had three Oscar nominations as well, which makes him the most-Oscar-nominated Hindi star.

The Story of Ghajini in Brief

If you don't want to lose the suspense, don't read on.

The film is about a rich cell phone company (AirVoice Cell) owner called Sanjay Ramaswamy (in Tamil), who happens to fall in love with a model called Kalpana (played by Asin).

Kalpana, who is an ad-film model, falls prey for a small misunderstanding by her director that she is the girlfriend of the cell phone tycoon, Sanjay Ramaswamy, and she herself, for bagging bigger opportunities, agrees that the claim is true. Matters get worse when a gossip magazine reports that Kalpana is the girlfriend of Sanjay, without even Sanjay knowing it. Sanjay decides to approach Kalapana for an explanation.

On the way, he happened to fall in love with a girl (at first sight), whom he saw helping handicapped children cross the street. When Sanjay sees the same girl when he asks for Kalpana, he gets awestruck and couldn't bring himself out, and Kalpana mistakes him for a model that came for her recommendation for modeling jobs. Sanjay starts to like Kalpana's character from the first interaction itself, and within some days, falls fully in love with her.

Kalpana, still not knowing that she is going out with Sanjay Ramaswamy-the-real, makes him play the business tycoon himself, when her ad-film director wants to meet Sanjay and have him as special guest for a function. Kalpana, though she tried to make another struggling, terrible-looking, obese model to act as Sanjay, thinks that Sanjay himself is the best for it, and makes him do that. Sanjay, who was just comfortable being himself, was well received by everyone. Soon, Sanjay proposes Kalpana, and she also falls in love with him.

But the next day, Kalpana gets entangled in a big scheme, in which the villain, Laxman, trades some young girls as prostitutes to Mumbai. She rescues the group of girls, blowing up all of Laxman's plans, and gets mentioned in the Media, which Sanjay (who happens to be abroad this time) sees himself. This enrages the villain and he sends thugs to kill Kalpana at her home. Fortunately, Sanjay comes back by this time. He happens to see the attack on Kalpana and goes in to help her. But Laxman comes to the scene and kills Kalpana by stabbing and smashing her head with a steel rod, and he then smashes Sanjay unconscious.

Sanjay loses his memory power and contracts a rare medical condition called short-term memory loss, medically called anterograde amnesia, in which the permanent memory is different from the short-term memory and hence, anything seen or felt is not transferred to the permanent memory. This makes the patients lose memory after every fixed period. Here in the film, Sanjay has 15 minutes of memory only, and forgets anything that happens in these fifteen minutes. Anything already in the permanent memory, such as his own name or name of Kalpana is not forgotten. Though this is so, he has a clear remembrance of the villain's face.

The film starts with a Sanjay, already in amnesia, going out and killing all the ruffians, who worked together to kill Kalpana, one by one, but always misses the leader, Laxman. Sanjay does his acts with the help of a Polaroid camera, which he uses to capture photographs of anyone he kills, an alarm device that alerts him every fifteen minutes, a number of photographs (of his rivals, friends, his own flat, etc.), and a checklist.

In the beginning, a medical student named Chitra, played by Nayantara in the original film, becomes interested in Sanjay's peculiar mental state and meets him. But she finds out somehow that he is out killing other people, and gets repelled. She goes to Laxman and informs him that a person named Sanjay with short-term memory loss is hard at work to kill him, and gives him Sanjay's photograph.

Laxman captures Sanjay unawares and roughs him up. On removing his shirt, he discovers that Sanjay has tattoos allover his body with the names of his attackers. Laxman erases all the tattoos on his body and gets rid of all the photographs, but leaves him alive. This causes Sanjay to lose track of his own activities and his rivals. But later, when Kalpana comes to know of Sanjay's story through his diary, she becomes remorseful and vows to help him take down Laxman. With her help, Sanjay starts over with his quest. She discovers the place where Laxman stays and unfortunately gets caught in the act.

Laxman has a twin-brother, who stays in a different city, and is actually more powerful and lethal than Laxman himself. On finding out about Sanjay's comeback, he agrees to help Laxman. In the end, to find out the location of Sanjay, Laxman and his brother makes use of Chitra. To make her spill the truth, they humiliate Chitra's friends in front of her. When one of her friends was murdered and another, brutally stripped in front of others, Chitra agrees to help Laxman and goes in search of Sanjay. She comes back with Sanjay in the final scene of the movie, when he fights both the villains, who are experts in kickboxing. This long fight is very sophisticated and interesting in the original Tamil film. In the end, he kills both the villains.

Ghajini Trivia

  • Ghajini is Soorya's biggest hit to date and helped him establish himself as the next big star in Tamil.
  • Ghajini became Asin's most important film to date, and established as a very big star in Tamil, paving way to other major films like Dasavatharam.
  • Ghajini was the third biggest hit in 2005, and its distribution rights were sold at 90 crores ($19 million) to Hindi.
  • Ghajini is the Tamil version of Christopher Nolan's psychological thriller movie, Memento, released in 2000, based on his brother, Jonathan Nolan's story, Memento Mori.
  • Tamil version had a budget of Rs. 8 crores ($1.6 million) and collected Rs. 50 crores ($10 million). Hindi version has the budget of Rs. 30 crores (6 million USD).
  • Before the movie was released, Asin captured the attention of Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, both of whom signed up separate contracts for films with her.


On 24th, Ghajini will hit theaters. Don't miss!

Other Resources

Check out Aamir Khan's Site with huge Ghajini wallpaper

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008


  1. I have seen Memento, and found it bewildering! I had to watch it one more time to understand it...
    Hope Ghajini is not like this!

    (P.S. But if Ghajini is bewildering too, it might rake in more moolah at the box office. Isn't it? :P)

  2. great article..the "ghajini" meaning hasn't really been publicized much or you can imagine the righties go after it already :)

  3. I liked the ending of the movie in Hindi better than the Tamil version. The villains holding hostages in the girls hostel was so un-realistic in the Tamil version. How did the villains expect to get away with murdering in a public college hostel in open day light. I think they gave a more logical ending to the Hindi one.

  4. Why would we indians tolerate a movie made on an invader's name ? If you see the hindi version you will know the villian's name is ghajini dharmatma.

  5. Yes, but it is just a marketing strategy to attract Tamil moviegoers. That in itself is successful as the film grossed well on the first days. Why not create a film based on an invader's name? Nothing wrong in that. Thanks for your comment.

  6. It is a very good movie of amir khan's as well as this post is much nice...........


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