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Kolkata India
+++The Dhobi you'll love!+++
Jan 31, 2011 04:39 PM 2759 Views
(Updated Feb 22, 2011 03:16 PM)





Welcome Kiran Rao! Welcome to the world of intelligent film making and engrossing story telling. Dhobi Ghat, the directorial debut of Kiran Rao, produced by Amir Khan Productions, is like a breath of fresh air for movie lovers. In fact it opens up a whole new avenue for Bollywood movies - the one being neo-realistic.

Before I come to the movie I cannot help but compare Rao's attempt of story telling with the neo-realistic movies of post World War Italy. Stalwart movie directors like Vittorio De Sica, Rosselini etc. started making neo-realistic movies by hitting real locations, using real stories and highlighting the harsh realities of life. This experience, movies being shot outside the studio environment, brought a whole new dimension to World Cinema. Similar attempt was made at contemporary Germany too with the Dada movement swinging in full force.

In Dhobi Ghat too, you will find real locations of Mumbai, real characters, who are caught in the dilemma of real life scenarios. The way Mumbai is portrayed in the movie through the cinematographer's lense, deserves many a kudos. It's much more engaging and soul touching than Danny Boyle or Deepa Mehta's camera.

Dhobi Ghat tells the story of four characters whose world collide and intermingle in the fascinating city of Mumbai. Through their story, the audience is taken through a journey of hopes and aspirations, of pain and angst and of love and solitude. Mumbai, is the fifth character of the story. The liveliness and spontaneous nature of the city adds to the vibrance of this celluloid saga. It's also a different picture of Mumbai, emphasizing on parts of old Mumbai, which are normally not much highlighted in Hindi movies.

Amir Khan is a brooding painter called Arun, facing mid-life crisis post his divorce. To cope up with life, he goes on a spree to change his apartment and finally lands into one where he finds something new and interesting. The flat had some abandoned recording casettes of a woman who once lived there. She was a lonely housewife, called Yasmin Noor, who used to record her monologues of melancholy and solitude in those videotapes. She also recorded bits and snaps of the Mumbai locale - her neighborhood, Gateway of India, local train compartment etc. She plans to send these cassettes to her brother who lives in UP. The housewife, played by Kriti Malhotra, comes from a small town and has a life full of sorrow. She has to cope with the coldness of his husband, and also comes to know of his adultery. The painter is touched by her anecdotes and it becomes a hobby for him to watch these tapes. He also tries to make paintings out of the scenes he watches in those tapes. This part of the movie seems a bit inspired by the French classic Amelie. An applauded scene is one where Arun finds out that Yasmin had committed suicide and goes into trauma. He eventually had to change his house.

On the other hand is the Dhobi boy Munna, played by Prateik Babbar, who aspires to be a movie actor. His pain, angst, aspirations and frustrations are beautifully portrayed in the movie. The Dhobi falls in love with a US based investment banker, Sai. Sai has taken a sabbatical from her work and has come to Mumbai to photograph the nuances of the city. The Dhobi turns her guide and the two are engrossed in a journey through the city. Munna coaxed Sai into creating his portfolio. Sai on the other hand went to the Dhobi Ghaat and caught the glimpses of the place with aid of Munna. As Munna's feelings for Sai started growing, a series of mishaps led to their separation. Sai on the other hand was actually smitten by painter Arun, with whom she had a one night stand. In the end, Munna sacrifices his own feelings and guides Sai to Arun's new address. Sai played by Monica Dogra is refreshing and serene. She is very natural and has lived the character.

About the performance, well Amir Khan has pulled up a wonderful example of method acting. It is very rare to see such controlled acting. Bravo Amir! Kriti Malhotra is so real, so natural, you will never feel she is attempting to act. Looking forward to watching more of this lady. Prateik is perhaps the weakest link in this cast, though he tries a lot to live up to the legacy of his famous parents. He has also filled his character Munna with the innocence and sweetness which was needed. Monica Dogra, beautiful and elegant. She is one of the best thing about the movie. You will enjoy her scenes with Amir and Prateik. Infact, lovely acting from the whole ensemble cast and fascinating work by the crew.

The camera, as I said is brilliant. You will love the black and white still snaps used in the movie depicting common Mumbaikars, and snapshots of streets, markets, dhobi ghat etc. The sound track by Oscar winner Santaolalla is haunting. It so much grows into you. The editing is crisp and fast paced. The movie runs for 95 minutes without a break. And when you come out of the theatre, you are definitely a gainer.

I will strongly recommend this movie to all lovers of cerebral movies.

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Dhobi Ghat