Ghajini (2005 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byAR Murugadoss
Produced bySalem Chandrasekharan
Written byAR Murugadoss
Music byHarris Jayaraj
CinematographyR. D. Rajasekhar
Edited byAnthony
Sri Saravanaa Creations
Distributed by
  • Sri Saravanaa Creaations (Tamil Nadu)
  • Geetha Arts (Andhra Pradesh)
Release date
  • 29 September 2005 (2005-09-29)
Running time
185 minutes
Budget70 million[1]

Ghajini is a 2005 Indian Tamil language psychological action film directed by A. R. Murugadoss and produced by Salem Chandrasekharan under Sri Saravanaa Creations. The film stars Suriya, Asin, Nayantara, with Pradeep Rawat and Riyaz Khan playing supporting roles. Pradeep Rawat plays identical twins. Harris Jayaraj composed the soundtrack and background music, while R. D. Rajasekhar and Anthony were the film's cinematographer and editor respectively. The film explores the life of a rich businessman who develops anterograde amnesia following a violent encounter in which his love interest was killed by the villain. He tries to avenge the killing with the aid of Polaroid Instant camera photographs, permanent tattoos on his body and a medical college student.

Production began shortly afterwards in April and was completed by September on the same year. The film was shot at Chennai, while two song sequences were filmed in Switzerland.

It was dubbed and released in Telugu by Allu Aravind in November 2005, and both versions enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim. The film was released on 29 September 2005 and received positive reviews from critics with praise directed towards the performances of lead pair and the film's plot. It was remade into a Hindi film by Murugadoss again in 2008, starring Aamir Khan with Asin reprising her role.

The film is an inspiration of Christopher Nolan's 2000 neo-noir film Memento.[2][3] The film's title is a reference to the tenth-century sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.


Chitra (Nayantara), a medical student and her friends are working on a project about the human brain. She wants to investigate the curious case of Sanjay Ramaswamy (Suriya), a (former) notable Chennai based businessman, who is reported to have anterograde amnesia. Her professor denies access to Sanjay's records as it is currently under criminal investigation. Chitra, nonetheless, decides to investigate the matter herself.

Sanjay is introduced as he brutally murders a man. He takes an instant picture of the man, and writes on it "done". Sanjay has anterograde amnesia; he loses his memory every 15 minutes. Sanjay uses a system of photographs, notes, and tattoos on his body to recover his memory after each cycle. It is revealed that Sanjay is ultimately out to avenge the death of his lover Kalpana (Asin), and that he is systematically killing the people responsible. His main target is Lakshman (Pradeep Rawat), a gangster and notable socialite in Chennai.

A police inspector (Riyaz Khan), on the case of the serial murders, tracks Sanjay down to his flat and attacks and makes him unconscious. The inspector finds two diaries where Sanjay has chronicled the events of 2002 and 2003. The film flashes back to 2002 as the inspector reads the diary. Sanjay Ramaswamy is shown as the owner of the Air Voice mobile telephone company. In the course of his business, Sanjay sends his men to meet Kalpana, a struggling model, about putting up a billboard above her apartment. The owner of Kalpana's advertising firm (Manobala) misinterprets this as a romantic advance, and in view of a possible lucrative Air Voice ad campaign and other benefits, encourages Kalpana to accept the overture. Kalpana thinks of this as an innocent prank that may fetch her better modelling work, and decides to play out the charade as Sanjay's girlfriend. She gives an interview in a magazine citing Sanjay as her lover interest. This irks Sanjay; as soon as Sanjay knows of this matter, he decides to confront Kalpana but falls in love with her on first sight. Thus, he introduces himself as "Manohar". Eventually both of them spend time together and gradually develop a liking towards each other. The diary ends with Sanjay proposing to Kalpana and promising himself that he will reveal himself as Sanjay Ramaswamy if she accepts.

Before the inspector can read the 2003 diary, Sanjay regains consciousness, attacks him and ties him up. He tracks down Lakshman to a college function where Lakshman is the guest of honour. Sanjay took pictures of Lakshman and decides to kill him. He meets Chitra at the function who, after some conversation, decides to befriend him. Later that evening, Sanjay mistakenly attacks and kills one of Lakshman's goons in the parking lot. Lakshman is perplexed and fails to recollect the incident. He decides to find and kill his enemies one by one, but Sanjay is not among them.

In the meantime, Chitra visits Sanjay's flat and finds the inspector, beaten and bound. Chitra finds the two diaries and frees the inspector. She also finds that Lakshman is Sanjay's target. The inspector tells her that Sanjay is a known serial murderer. Sanjay arrives suddenly; he remembers neither of them and chases them out. The inspector is eventually hit and killed by a bus, while Chitra barely escapes, going into a phone booth. Believing Lakshman is in danger, she informs him that Sanjay is after him. Lakshman arrives at Sanjay's flat to kill him. He destroys all the photographs, notes and scratches off Sanjay's tattoos. Satisfied that he has neutralised Sanjay by wiping out any trace that connects back to him, Lakshman leaves. Meanwhile, Sanjay discovers that Chitra had warned Lakshman and goes to her dormitory to kill her, but Chitra calls the police and Sanjay is arrested.

Back in her dormitory, Chitra reads the diaries. The 2003 diary reveals that Kalpana had accepted Sanjay's proposal and ends abruptly. Chitra investigates further, and discovers that Kalpana was travelling to Mumbai for a modelling assignment by train when she came upon 25 innocent young girls being trafficked to Mumbai. She saves the girls who name Lakshman as the ringleader of the racket. Lakshman kills two girls, who recognised him, and goes in search of Kalpana. His goons break into her apartment and wait for her to return, upon which they give chase and subdue her. Sanjay arrives there to meet Kalpana, but notices the group of men grabbing her, and tries to rescue her. He overpowers them only to discover that Kalpana had disappeared amidst the chaos. He makes it to her room, and upon opening the door, she slowly walks towards him, drenched in sweat. Her last word to him is "Po" (Go), a warning for him to leave, as Sanjay looks down to see she had been stabbed from behind. Sanjay is suddenly aware but Lakshman hits him over the head with an iron rod. Sanjay's last vision was to witness Lakshman brutally murder Kalpana with the iron rod, despite already dying from the knife, and Laksman hitting him in the face with the same weapon, before losing consciousness.

Chitra, now aware of the truth, finds Sanjay in the hospital and tells him the truth. He flies into a rage and he tells her to lead him to Lakshman. Meanwhile, Lakshman's twin brother Ram arrives from Kolkata to help him pursue Sanjay. Arriving at Lakshman's lair in downtown Chennai, Sanjay confronts all of Lakshman's henchmen and with superior strength, manages to disable them. Finding Lakshman himself, Sanjay fights Lakshman hand-to-hand. However, Lakshman realises that he is no match for Sanjay's strength, so Ram intervenes. As both brothers look alike, Sanjay's memory loss strikes again. Ram, exploiting Sanjay's memory loss, beats him mercilessly. Sanjay lies badly wounded on the floor when he sees a vision of Kalpana. With a sudden burst of last minute strength, and with the encouragement of Chitra, Sanjay overpowers both Lakshman and Ram, and kills them.

While Sanjay drives Chitra back to her dormitory, he stops at a crossing to let young children cross the road. A young girl smiles at him, and he reacts by smiling back at her.


  • Suriya as Sanjay Ramaswamy
  • Nayantara as Chitra
  • Asin as Kalpana
  • Pradeep Rawat as Lakshman and Ram (Dual Role)
  • Riyaz Khan as the police inspector who is investigating the murders by Sanjay
  • Manobala as the owner of the advertising firm where Kalpana worked.
  • Sathyan as a person whom Kalpana asks to impersonate as Sanjay for a function


"I found the basic story — the part about the memory loss — very interesting. It was something not dealt with in Tamil before. I thought even a layman could understand the medical problem. The screenplay was very exciting too".

 — Suriya spoke about Ghajini in an interview to Rediff in 2008.[4]

The film was initially announced as Mirattal in March 2004 to be produced by NIC Arts and to feature Ajith Kumar and Asin in the lead roles, with a photo shoot also being held. Yuvan Shankar Raja was then signed as the music director.[5] However the project fell through and negotiations with Madhavan also collapsed.[6][7] In November 2004, it was announced that the project was revived by Salem Chandrasekhar and that Suriya would portray the leading role.[8] Suriya subsequently had to tonsure his head for the film before production,[9] with Asin retaining her role while Shriya Saran and Prakash Raj were selected to play other roles in the film.[10] Murugadoss said that he had narrated the script to 12 actors but none of them agreed, Surya was the 13th actor.[11] It was revealed that Asin would play the role of Kalpana, with the name being inspired by the late Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla.[12] Shriya was later replaced by Nayantara for the second leading female role, after the former became busy with other films and Pradeep Rawat replaced Prakash Raj.[13] For the character of the rich tycoon, Suriya had closely observed the garment exporter, Tagore Bakshani.[14]

The film was launched on 11 February 2005 at AVM Studios in Chennai with the cast of the project in attendance.[15] In early April 2005, two songs for the film were shot in Switzerland with costumes brought in from Paris for the shooting.[16] Shooting continued and the film finished production in July 2005.[17]

Themes and influences[edit]

Ghajini was inspired by the American film Memento,[18] which itself was adapted from the short story Memento Mori. In response to allegations of plagiarism, Aamir Khan noted "Murgadoss had heard about a film called Memento and the concept had really fascinated him. Without having seen the film he went ahead and wrote his own version of the script and screenplay. Having finished his script, he then saw Memento, found it very different from what he had written, and went ahead and made Ghajini."[19] Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu stated that: "Those who have watched Memento, will not miss the similarities between the English flick and Ghajini. Yet Murugadas's ingenuity lies in adapting the inspiration to suit the taste of the audience".[20] Murugadoss stated, "I had written half the story of Ghajini when I saw Memento. I liked the character in the film who remembers things for just 15 minutes. So, I used just that character."[21]

Several comical scenes in the film are similar to Happy Go Lovely (1951). The scene where Kalpana (Asin) helps a blind man to cross the road is similar to the French film Amélie.[22] The film's title is a reference to Mahmud of Ghazni, the tenth-century Sultan of Ghaznavid Empire whose name is pronounced "Ghajini" in Tamil.[23]


The soundtrack features five songs composed by Harris Jayaraj.[24][25] Harris Jayaraj received his third Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director and was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Music Director. Regarding the song "Suttum Vizhi", Harris said that when Murugadoss narrated him the situation in which the hero is full of admiration for the heroine's attitude and compassion and he dreams of her. Initially, he thought of a peppy song but after hours of discussion, he decided on a melodious tune.[26]. "Suttum Vizhi" was copied in an unreleased Kannada movie Havaa as "Malli Malli Minchulli".

Soundtrack album by
Released15 July 2005
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelRoja/Mass Audios
ProducerHarris Jayaraj
Harris Jayaraj chronology
Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu
1."Oru Maalai"ThamaraiKarthik5:55
2."Suttum Vizhi"Na. MuthukumarSriram Parthasarathy, Bombay Jayashree5:19
4."Rangola Ola"KabilanShankar Mahadevan, Sujatha4:27
5."X Machi"VaaliMathangi, Nakul4:13
Total length:24:45
Soundtrack album by
Released29th September, 2005
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelAditya Music
ProducerHarris Jayaraj
Telugu Track-List[28]
1."Oka Maaru Kalisina"Veturi Sundararama MurthyKarthik5:53
2."Hrudayam Ekkadunnadi"VennelakantiHarish Raghavendra, Bombay Jayashree5:16
3."Rahathulla"Bhuvana ChandraAnnupamaa4:49
4."Rangola Ola"Veturi Sundararama MurthyTippu, Sujatha, Ranjith, Suchitra4:22
5."X Pichi Y Pichi"ChandraboseMathangi, Nakul4:09
Total length:24:29


The satellite rights of the film were sold to Sun TV.[29] Ghajini was censored with a "U/A" by Central Board of Film Certification, with few minor cuts.[30]

Critical response[edit]

The film received critical acclaim. Sify wrote: "Full marks to the director and Surya for coming out with one of the best edge-of-the-seat racy thriller seen in recent times. Ghajini is recommended for those who seek extra strong, stylish, over-the-top entertainment" and also wrote that ", it is an action film with plenty of intense, dark and suspenseful filled moments".[20] Indiaglitz stated that: "Director Murugadoss has made bold with an absolutely new idea and to his eternal credit makes it work with finesse and flashiness" and also wrote that "it is an impressive story told in an inventive manner".[31]

Box office[edit]

The film along with a dubbed Telugu release opened to high critical acclaim. Ghajini became the third highest grossing Tamil film of that year.[32][33][34] Ghajini, together with Chandramukhi and Anniyan, earned three times than the total cost.[35]

Telugu version was also successful at box office.[36] The film did better business than straight Telugu films.[37] The film's success earned Suriya a fan following in Andhra. It also prompted producers in the Telugu film industry, to acquire the dubbing rights to Suriya's Tamil films and release them in Telugu.[38]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In addition to the following list of awards and nominations, prominent Indian film websites named Ghajini one of the 10 best Tamil films of 2005, with Rediff, Sify and Behindwoods all doing such that. The film also featured, prior to release, in "most awaited" list from film websites.

Award Category Nominee Result
2005 Filmfare Awards South Best Actor Surya Sivakumar Nominated
Best Actress Asin[39] Won
Best Director A. R. Murugadoss Nominated
Filmfare Special Award Harris Jayaraj Won
Best Film Salem A. Chandrasekaran Nominated
Best Lyricist Thamarai
("Oru Maalai")
Best Male Playback Sriram Parthasarathy
("Suttum Vizhi")
Best Male Playback Karthik
("Oru Maalai")
Best Female Playback Bombay Jayashree
("Suttum Vzhi")
Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj Nominated
Best Cinematographer R. D. Rajasekhar Nominated
Best Editor Award Anthony Won
2005 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards[40] Best Film Ghajini Won
Special Award for Best Actor Surya Sivakumar Won
Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj Won
Best Male Playback Sriram Parthasarathy
("Suttum Vizhi")
Best Female Playback Bombay Jayashree
("Suttum Vizhi")
Best Cinematographer R. D. Rajasekhar Won
Best Lyricist Na. Muthukumar
("Suttum Vizhi")
Best Audiographer A. S. Laxmi Narayanan Won
Best Editor Anthony Won


Aamir Khan who saw the original film decided to remake the film in Hindi. Murugadoss again directed the Hindi version.[41] Asin reprised her character and the film marked her debut in Bollywood.[42] The climax in Hindi version was slightly altered with Murugadoss revealing that Aamir rewrote the climax portions.[43] The remake version was released in 2008 to positive reviews and became a successful film at the box office. Munirathna announced that he would remake the film in Kannada with Upendra, Divya Spandana.[44] However the remake failed to materialise instead Telugu film Manmadhudu (2002) was remade as Aishwarya (2006) in which few scenes were borrowed from Ghajini.[45]


The film's success established Suriya as an action hero and Asin as leading actress. Asin said that Kalpana in Ghajini "was a life-time role for me".[46] Nayantara who appeared in a secondary character told that appearing in Ghajini was a big mistake and the "worst decision" she ever took.[47]

In a comedy scene from Kovai Brothers (2006), Sathyaraj parodies Surya's bald look from Ghajini to impress Namitha.[48][49] In Shiva starrer Thamizh Padam (2010) Siva (Shiva) remembers that he has to kill Swarna when he looks at a Polaroid photo of her.[50]

In the Telugu film Dubai Seenu (2007), Seenu (Ravi Teja) plays a prank on inspector (Sayaji Shinde) by calling every women and singing "Oka Maaru" (Oru Maalai) and also getting him beaten black and blue.[51] In Pokkiri (2007), Body Soda (Vadivelu) imagines himself dancing for the song "Suttum Vizhi" with Sruthi (Asin).[52] In the 2014 Kannada film Kwatle Satisha, a remake of Tamil film Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom (2012), the first look poster featured the film's actor Sathish Ninasam in the look inspired from Ghajini.[53]


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External links[edit]