When a seething Aamir Khan rams an iron pipe through a man’s stomach in the first few minutes of the film, you get an idea of what’s coming (in the original Tamil version, there’s apparently a tap attached to the pipe and when hero Surya turns it on blood comes dripping out) in the next three hours.

Aamir Khan plays a revenge-crazed lover in Ghajini

It seems only fitting that 2008’s biggest film will likely be a violent one. Yet, it’s an oddly comforting violence. Nobody wants to blow up the big city, religion doesn’t matter here and nobody’s heard of suicide bombers. It’s the violence of a time before terrorism. It’s a world where villains wear gold chains, kidnap little girls, bribe the police and kill innocent people who get in their way. A world that we had almost forgotten thanks to the new wave of urban terror that has swept our cities in recent years and, especially, in the year gone by.

Plus it’s got Tamil punch.

Villains are pitchers who swing iron rods that look more menacing than any you’ve seen in Bollywood. The hero has a Superfist (and an oversculpted, tattooed body) that can fell multiple scary-looking villains who attack him all at once.

Ghajini is a near faithful copy of the 2005 Tamil film though a Tamil critic I saw it with pointed out that in the original the villain had a double role and the climactic fight sequence was shot in a swimming pool, not a basti. And, she added, Surya was way hotter than Aamir Khan could ever hope to be.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi has a skinny plot

Khan plays industrialist Sanjay Singhania who, for reasons best understood in Chennai, wears all his formal short-sleeved shirts with the sleeves rolled up. He meets Kalpana (played by Asin), a struggling model who chatters her way through life, helping everyone who needs her help. Thanks to a funny mix-up, the two become friends and then fall in love.

But this is a revenge story of a grief-stricken man (who also suffers from short-term memory loss, a fact that lead villain Ghajini, played by Pradeep Rawat, finds highly amusing), so you already know this film is not going to end happily ever after. Ghajini is a tense, edge-of-your-seat, pit-of-your-stomach gripping masala film.

Aamir plays a revenge-crazed lover convincingly, Asin is great as everyone’s roadside saviour and Rawat is a villain plucked straight out of 1990s Indian cinema.

So, who did 2008 belong to then? Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan? I would say Abhay Deol or Imran Khan actually, but if I had to pick between Ghajini and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi it would have to be the former.

Rab Ne... was an inane movie with a skinny plot that only confirmed that for Shah Rukh Khan, acting equals contorting his facial muscles (even if he looks cute hugging a tiffin); Ghajini is great old-fashioned Tamil pulp.