Home Bollywood Etc. Ghulam (1998)

Ghulam (1998)

Ghulam (1998)

Ghulam (1998)
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Rajit Kapur
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Nutshell: Well constructed tale of two brothers on a collision course to destruction.
Reviewed by: Faiz Khan


Not much was expected of Ghulam, certainly not by me as it was being made by a director who had failed in his previous efforts and showed little sign of the obvious talent which he clearly shows in this film.

This is a compelling, taut film and essays the story of two brothers. The elder brother, Jai (Rajit Kapur), works for a local goonda Raunaq Singh also known as Ronnie, an ageing boxer who has plans to go kosher and make all his ill-gotten gains legal by winning the tender for building of a huge building complex. The younger brother, Siddharth, also known as Sidhu ( Aamir Khan) is a wastrel, getting into petty trouble with the law and generally horsing around, once in a while, doing the odd job for his brother. He, however is haunted by visions of a fire and the death of a man from the top of a building, the subject of many nightmares and repressed feeling.

One day, he comes across a girl, Alisha (Rani Mukherjee) who is travelling around with what appears to be a kind of motorcycle gang headed by Charlie (Deepak Tijori). Intent on impressing her, Sidhu agrees to a challenge by Charlie for a “dus dus ki daud” at Sanpada station at night. Having won the challenge, Sidhu drops Alisha home.

As is expected, love blossoms even their backgrounds are very different. In time, he befriends a social worker who comes to live in his area Hari (Akhsay Anand) who is trying to make people stand up to the power and might of Ronnie dada. Sidhu warns him of this but is taken in by much of what Hari has to say. Hari becomes a thorn in the side of Ronnie Dada and with the help of Sidhu, they induce Hari to meet them on a bridge. Hari is murdered by Ronnie dada, which is witnessed by Sidhu who becomes hysterical with rage but is stopped by his brother from saying anything. The sting in the tail is that it turns out that Hari was Alisha’s brother and in some ways, Sidhu feels responsible for his death.

He is now in turmoil. His world collapses around him when Jai shatters his illusion that their father was not a brave freedom fighter but someone who had sold out to the British and had later committed suicide. Jai further chides him and tells him that the only way forward is to be like Ronnie. Guilt and conscience catch up with him and he confesses to his lawyer and Alisha about what he has seen and his intention of being a witness at court. Then follows the clash between Sidhu and his brother and Ronnie Singh and his gang.

The film sounds as if it is run of the mill stuff but it is not. It is in fact a powerful film, focussing on the story of two brothers and the scenes featuring both of them are the best of the film. The scene at the house when Jai makes tea for Sidhu and Jai tells Sidhu that he is mistaken about their father, their scene after the boxing match, the scene by the water when Jai takes a gun out on Sidhu are just some scenes that remain in memory.

This is very real stuff, very intense yet underplayed. No melodrama here, no dramatics that are usually seen on the screen. The scene at sanpada station is also superb. This is a very tightly knit screenplay and excellently executed. Aamir Khan in the lead role is simply superb, matched equally by Rajit Kapur as Jai. Rani Mukherjee in her second film, is a breath of fresh air and enacts a fairly simple role well and injects a great deal of life in her scenes.

The music is not bad, the standouts being Aati kya khandala, and Jadoo hai, tera hi jadoo. The background score is hugely impressive and very well utilised by the director. This is Vikram Bhatt’s film and hats off to him to have come up trumps after many turkeys in the past.