This past weekend, I reluctantly watched that greatly awaited rip-off — Ghajini. My overwhelming memory of the movie is a kaleidoscope of killer metal rods, twisted necks, sweaty terrified women hiding from men sent to slash them into silence, a scary, banshee-type, goblin-eared amnesiac making animal noises and one of the lousiest villains in recent history — immortalised in the title. I imagine this is enough to make a few children cower in fear after lights out.
Shockingly enough, the movie was open to all kids accompanied by adults, and I presume that almost everyone came away a bit shaken. Scores of harried parents in the rows around us kept forcing their poor kids to stop hiding in their woolies, exhorting them with “look beta, nothing’s happening”, even as Aamir Khan continued to settle scores with brutal and bloody precision.
Yes, there were certain ‘violent’ deletions from the film. Apparently, one can qualify for the Central Board of Film Certification’s U/A certificate by toning down a scene in which a man hits a woman with a rod twice, by allowing her only to be hit once; restricting broken necks to a modest number; and not allowing blood to drip from a tap inserted with great ferocity into a man’s abdomen. Now I do like my occasional Tarantino and thoroughly enjoy vengeful bloodfests, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the same to little nieces and nephews.
In fact, I can’t decide what I found more disturbing: the kids who hid from the violence, or the ones who clapped loudly after each successful assault. By haggling on certification, and making cosmetic changes to squeeze past the audience-depleting ‘A’ rating, are we even aware of the confused morality we’re bequeathing our children? So, while we want to keep their impressionable minds away from promiscuous coke-snorters, chain smokers and rapists, are we inadvertently inuring them against violence by celebrating murderous machismo as wholesome family entertainment? Can we, then, afford to be surprised at the runaway popularity of violent gaming?
It’s only a movie, one might argue. But sadly, the audience doesn’t have the luxury of a 15-minute memory span like the movie’s avenging angel. Oh, how I wish I did!