It is a remake of AR Murugadoss's own 2005 Tamil film of the same name. It became the highest-grossing Indian film of that year and the first to cross the ₹100 crore mark domestically, creating the Bollywood 100 Crore Club. It stars Aamir Khan, Asin and Jiah Khan in lead roles while Tinnu Anand, Pradeep Rawat and Riyaz Khan (in his Hindi debut and remains the only Hindi movie he has worked) essay supporting roles. The film was inspired from Christopher Nolan's 2000 neo-noir film Memento. And the comedy plot was inspired by the 1951 British film Happy Go Lovely.
The film explores the life of a rich businessman who develops anterograde amnesia following a violent encounter in which his love interest, a model named Kalpana, was killed. He tries to avenge the killing with the aid of photographs from a Polaroid Instant camera and permanent tattoos on his body. Aamir Khan's character was featured in a 3D video game titled Ghajini – The Game, which is based on the movie. On release it became the highest-grossing movie of all time until it was beaten by another movie, 3 Idiots (also starring Khan) the following year. Ghajini's paid preview collections were ₹27 million (US$420,000).
Sunita (Jiah Khan) is a medical student working on a project about the human brain with her classmates. When she was denied access by her professor to the curious case of Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan), a man reported to have anterograde amnesia, because it is under criminal investigation, Sunita decides to investigate the matter herself.
It is later revealed that Sanjay loses his memory every 15 minutes. He uses a system of photographs, notes, and tattoos on his body to recover his memory after each cycle to remind himself of his mission: to avenge the death of his girlfriend Kalpana (Asin). He systematically kills the people who were involved in the murder. His main target is Ghajini Dharmatma (Pradeep Rawat), a notable social personality in the city, and the man directly responsible for Kalpana's death and Sanjay's condition.
Police inspector Arjun Yadav (Riyaz Khan) tracks Sanjay down to his apartment and knocks him unconscious. Yadav finds two diaries in which Sanjay has chronicled the events of 2005 and 2006. The film flashes back to 2005 as Yadav reads the diary. Sanjay Singhania is the chairman of the Air Voice mobile telephone company. In the course of business, he sends his men to meet Kalpana, a struggling model of Mumbai, about putting up a billboard above her apartment. The owner of Kalpana's advertising firm misinterprets this as a romantic advance and, in view of a possible lucrative Air Voice ad campaign, encourages Kalpana to accept the overture. Kalpana thinks of it as an innocent prank that may fetch her better modelling work and decides to act as Sanjay's girlfriend. Sanjay goes to confront Kalpana about this but falls in love with her at first sight. He hides his identity and introduces himself as Sachin, and the two begin spending time together. The diary ends with Sanjay proposing to Kalpana and promising himself that he will reveal his actual identity if she accepts.
When Yadav is about to read the 2006 diary, Sanjay awakes and attacks him, tying him up. Ghajini realizes that someone is trying to kill him but is unable to figure out who. Sunita visits Sanjay's flat and discovers Sanjay's plan to kill Ghajini. She takes both his diaries before finding Yadav, beaten and bound, and freeing him. Just then, Sanjay arrives, he remembers neither of them and chases them out. Yadav is hit by a bus as he flees in terror, and Sunita, believing Ghajini is the good guy in danger, informs him about Sanjay. Ghajini arrives at Sanjay's flat and destroys all of Sanjay's photographs and notes, as well as the tattoos on Sanjay's body, so that Sanjay is left with nothing to help him recover his memory.
Meanwhile, Sanjay discovers that Sunita had warned Ghajini and he goes to her dormitory to kill her, but Sunita calls the police and Sanjay is arrested. Back in her dormitory as Sunita reads the diaries, the film flashes back to 2006, where it is revealed that Kalpana had accepted Sanjay's proposal. When this diary ends abruptly, Sunita investigates further and discovers that Kalpana was travelling to Goa for a modelling assignment when she came upon 25 innocent young girls being trafficked. She had saved the girls with the help of some army soldiers on board, who named Ghajini as the ringleader of the racket. Outraged, Ghajini broke into Kalpana's apartment with his goons to kill her. When Sanjay arrived, he found Kalpana stabbed. Ghajini then hit Sanjay over the head with an iron rod. Sanjay's last sight was Ghajini brutally murdering Kalpana with the iron rod. Kalpana's last word to Sanjay was "Ghajini."
Sunita, now aware of the shocking truth, finds Sanjay in the hospital and tells him the truth. He flies into a heartbroken rage and tracks down Ghajini with Sunita's help. He fights off all of Ghajini's henchmen with a superior and anger-fueled strength. Ghajini,upon realizing Sanjay is too strong for him, flees. Sanjay's memory loss strikes again, and he forgets who Ghajini is. Ghajini takes this opportunity to stab Sanjay and taunt him with the grisly tale of how he murdered Kalpana. As he is about to make Sanjay relive the experience by killing Sunita in the same exact way, Sanjay recovers the memory of Kalpana's murder, and overpowers Ghajini in a flash of strength. He finally kills Ghajini, in the same way Ghajini had killed Kalpana.
The film ends with a still-amnesiac Sanjay volunteering at an orphanage named after Kalpana. Sunita gives him a gift that reminds him of his bond with Kalpana, and Sanjay sees Kalpana by his side, finally at peace with himself.Aamir Khan as Sanjay Singhania, a rich businessman; the chairman of a mobile phone company, Air Voice; who later suffers from short term memory loss after a brutal attack
Asin as Kalpana Shetty, a model who gains publicity by falsely proclaiming herself to be the girlfriend of Sanjay Singhania
Jiah Khan as Sunita, a medical student, who tries to study the case of Sanjay Singhania and his amnesiac problem, even though she is forbidden to do so
Tinnu Anand as Satveer Kohli, Kalpana's boss
Pradeep Rawat as Ghajini Dharmatma, a gang honcho and the mastermind of many illegal and criminal ventures.
Sai Tamhankar as Sunita's friend
Khalid Siddiqui as Air Voice manager
Rajendran as Henchman
Supreeth Reddy as Henchman
Riyaz Khan as Inspector Arjun. A police inspector who is investigating the murders by Sanjay Singhania.
Sunil Grover as Sampat
It was rumoured earlier that the film was titled Kajri. Shooting started in Chennai in May 2007. Other filming locations included Bangalore, Cape Town, Deadpan Desert and Mumbai. Aamir Khan had spent a year working out at the gym, training for his role. This film marked the Bollywood debut for Asin.
Ghajini (main villains named film) was released on 25 December 2008 with an estimated 1,500 prints worldwide, including 1,200 prints (digital and analogue versions) in the domestic market, making it the largest Bollywood release at that time. The domestic rights were sold to Geetha Arts for ₹530 million (US$8.3 million), while satellite, overseas and home media rights were sold at a total of ₹400 million (US$6.2 million), breaking the records of Shah Rukh Khan's film Om Shanti Om's ₹730 million (US$11 million).
The overseas distributors, Reliance Entertainment released the film with 300 prints in 22 countries, including 112 prints in the USA and Canada, 65 prints in the UK and 36 prints in the UAE. Ghajini was also released in Norway, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. It had around 650 paid previews which fetched it around ₹ 70 million.
The two-disc collector's edition DVD was manufactured by Big Home Video and distributed by international distributor, Adlabs Films Ltd on 13 March 2009 with a MSRP of US$19.99. It received a 15+ age rating by the British Board of Film Classification for persistent and excessive violence.
A PC video game based on the film was manufactured and produced by FXLabs Studios Pvt Ltd and Geetha Arts, and marketed and distributed by Eros Home Entertainment: Ghajini – The Game. It is a third-person action game consisting of five levels of play; here the player controlled the protagonist Sanjay to accomplish missions using martial arts, weapons, and artefacts. It was hailed as India's first true 3D PC game with an MSRP of US$14.99. Although never officially rated, the distributor recommends that 15+ year old players partake in the game. Ghajini has also reportedly earned ₹40 million (US$620,000) from gaming rights (a first for a Bollywood film), ₹210 million (US$3.3 million) for satellite rights for India and overseas and something to the tune of ₹100 million (US$1.6 million) for home video and music.
Director A. R. Murugadoss was arrested shortly before the film's completion. According to Salem Chandrasekhar (producer of the Tamil original), he had not bought the rights to remake the film in Hindi.
Sonia Chopra of Sify gave the movie 3.5 stars and recommended watching it "For the four As—Aamir, Asin, AR Murgadoss and AR Rahman". Rajeev Masand of CNN IBN gave 3 stars writing, "Ghajini isn't a particularly good film, but entertainment it delivers by the bucketful." Martin D'Souza of Bollywood Trade News Network gave 3.5 stars, noting the flaws in screenplay, while praising the action. Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama remarked that the movie "is a winner all the way" and gave it 4.5 stars. Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India praised the performance by Aamir Khan as its high point and awarded 3.5 stars.
Zee News described Aamir's performance as his best till date. Sukanya Verma of Rediff gave the movie 3.5 stars, while describing the film as "a sleek album of dark memories, which are terrifying to relive and shattering to experience". Noyon Jyoti Parasara of AOL India said, "Most comparisons often point out that a remake is not as worthy.Ghajini however succeeds when it is compared to the Tamil version directed by the same director." Anupama Chopra of NDTV said "Ghajini isn't a great film or even a very good one but I recommend that you see it. It is, as we used to say in the old days, paisa vasool. Kaveree Bamzai of India Today said that "This is brutality, choreographed by a poet, and therefore that much more compelling." giving it 3.5 stars.
The film received some mixed and negative reviews. Gaurav Malani of Indiatimes gave 2 stars, criticising its length while praising the performance of the cast. Raja Sen of Rediff rated the movie 2.5/5 and criticised the performance of Asin while concluding, "overwhelming feeling is one of regret". Shubhra Gupta of Express India concluded that Ghajini is too long, too violent, and criticised Jiah Khan's acting and dancing skills, but praised the performances of Aamir Khan and Asin. Hindustan Times gave it 2 stars and said "You'd like to give Ghajini a long-term memory loss. Kya, kyon, kahan? Murugadoss.? Aamir? Asin? Who? Got to jog my memory... maybe after 15 minutes."
Trade analyst Komal Nahta estimated the film's first week collections to be ₹62 crore (equivalent to ₹121 crore or US$19 million in 2016). Ghajini's box-office worldwide gross total was ₹200 crore (equivalent to ₹390 crore or US$61 million in 2016). It was declared an All Time Blockbuster. Some other independent sources have stated that Ghajini has grossed ₹200 crore (equivalent to ₹390 crore or US$61 million in 2016) in two weeks—totting up a domestic gross of ₹160 crore (equivalent to ₹312 crore or US$49 million in 2016) and an overseas collection of ₹40 crore (equivalent to ₹78 crore or US$12 million in 2016). A success party was organised to celebrate Ghajini's ₹200 crore (equivalent to ₹390 crore or US$61 million in 2016) worldwide celebration in January 2009. Before this,one more success party was organised in Mumbai's Taj Land's End hotel on 30 December 2008,for celebrating that Ghajini grossed ₹110 crore (equivalent to ₹215 crore or US$33 million in 2016) in five days.
The original Tamil version of Ghajini was inspired by the American film Memento, which itself was adapted from the short story Memento Mori. The film stars Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, a former insurance fraud investigator searching for the man he believes raped and killed his wife during a burglary. Leonard suffers from anterograde amnesia, which he contracted from severe head trauma during the attack on his wife. Certain concepts like writing notes behind instant Polaroid photographs and tattooing facts on his body were inspired by the film. According to Aamir Khan, "Ghajini is not a remake or even slightly inspired by Memento, but it's a remake of the Tamil film, Ghajini".
Several comical scenes in the film are similar to Happy Go Lovely (1951). The scene where Kalpana (Asin Thottumkal) helps a blind man to cross the road is similar to the French film Amélie.
It was notable that Christopher Nolan was aware that an Indian film with a same kind of story similar to Memento was released though in a different story plot. As said by Anil Kapoor in an interview, when he met Nolan, he said Nolan was "upset" about the Hindi film and Nolan said that he was neither "credited" nor "compensated."
The film has six songs including two remixes composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics by Prasoon Joshi.
Bollywood Hungama wrote, "The music of Ghajini is all set to make waves way into 2009 after the Christmas release of the film. When 'best of the best' list would be compiled at the year end, it would be hard to ignore Ghajini." Rediff.com gave it the highest possible rating of five stars with the reviewer praising Rahman saying, "This could just be one of his finest albums ever. Not just are the tracks great, but each one segues into the next with perfect unpredictability." According to the Indian trade website Box Office India, the soundtrack sold around 19,00,000 units.Star Screen Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Female – Asin
Stardust Superstar of Tomorrow – Female – Asin
Stardust Hottest New Filmmaker – A.R. Murugadoss
Stardust Hottest New Film Award
Filmfare Best Female Debut Award – Asin
Filmfare Best Action Award – Peter Hein
IIFA Best Female Debut – Asin
IIFA Best Villain Award – Pradeep Rawat