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Aug 22, 2011 12:10 PM 4267 Views





A few days back I watched the movie Dhobi Ghat on my laptop. And thank God for that because Dhobi Ghat is not a movie on which one can incur expenditure on expensive PVR tickets. It is also not a movie to be watched on TV with loads of advertisements in between breaking the continuity and flow of the film. It is a movie to be viewed privately sans disruption so that one can cud chew on its content to arrive at one’s own personal conclusion.

THE PLOT:Dhobi Ghat revolves around three individuals – Arun, a divorced painter (Amir Khan), who is desperately trying to get over his estrangement from his wife and son and the consequent loneliness. Shai Edulji (Monica Dogra), an investment banker in the US, who has taken a sabbatical from work to do research on her professional subject and dabble in photography which is her favourite past time. Munna (Prateik Babbar), a washerman who washes and irons Arun’s and Shai’s clothes and side by side nurtures a secret desire to join the film industry as actor. Dhobi Ghat is about these three different characters from three different mileu orbiting in their respective paths suddenly coming in close proximity of each other, getting attracted towards each other and then by the same laws getting deflected from each other.

THE STORY:Arun meets Shai in one of his painting exhibitions, gets drawn towards her and has a one night fling about which he later feels bad and squirms out of a relationship which though having elements of a burgeoning promise is nipped at the bud. Shai, though infuriated by Arun’s attitude, forgives him in due course of time but cannot get over the fatal pullwhich magnetically draws her again and again towards him. In the meantime, Shai takes Munna’s help to get to know the city of Mumbai and capture its various layers in her camera. On the other hand, Arun, who leads a nomadic life, comes across a few video tapes in the flat where he has currently moved in These tapes are in the form of letters written by a young, innocent Muslim girl from Malihabad who has come to Mumbai for the first time after her marriage to a much older man. It is a parallel story which runs through the entire movie – how the girl’s initial excitement of knowing an alien city gives way to loneliness resulting in a drastic and macabre end. Arun identifies with this unknown girl and empathizes with her loneliness.

THE DRAWBACKS:In spite of its serene pace, beautiful moments, feel-good factor and poignant narration, Dhobi Ghat categorically lacks in intent. The purpose of the movie is unclear and the message undelivered. What the movie is able to bring forth is the isolated existence of modern urbanites. However, at the same time, a directorial statement underlying the cinematic context is unfortunately missing in the movie. The script is also unable to captivate the variegated, idiosyncratic shades of the metro called Mumbai. The portrayal is sporadic, haphazard and superficial and continuum disruptive. Given the class disparity between Shai and Munna, their closeness, if I may call that, or friendship, whatever that means, is unnatural and baseless. It would have rather been more realistic and comprehensible if Shai’s rapport with Munna reeked of exploitative charm, the latter being the common and only link between Arun and Shai. Instead, it is just a half heartedly erected undefined canvas wherein three individuals and a few instances pivoting around them, have been interlinked in a loose fragmental juxtapose which fails to etch an indelible blueprint of the cityscape and the lifestyles associated with it – its frictions, its dilemmas, its Bohemia or its pacifying placidity. In short, Dhobi Ghat is a nice attempt, neither a clichéd artistic craftwork nor a fast paced mainstream revenue grosser; it is just a good film, watchable and enjoyable in bits and pieces, but does not leave a long lasting impact on the minds of the audience who is left craving for a wee bit more.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:Dhobi Ghat is Kiran Rao’s directorial debut which is not altogether bereft of promise and hope. A little more polish, finesse, meaning and assertion, we may find a more complete and well knit story telling on celluloid. Some of the shots and angles applied to bring out the closeted existence of the human species in super-busy metros are commendable. Editing lacks charisma. Amir Khan as the lone painter stands out in emotive performance. His dialogues are few but his actions and expressions speak volumes. Monica Dogra is sweet and blends with her character well. Prateik Babbar is a powerhouse of talent which even a de-glamorised, peripheral role cannot but showcase. Thankfully, there is no song in the movie to disturb its pace. Background score is minimal and soothing.

THE FINAL ANALYSIS:I shall end the review on the same note on which I have begun. One need not spend money on a movie like Dhobi Ghat but definitely while a quiet evening sitting through the same. The contextual structurization of the film may invoke sardonic contemplation. However, chances are that the viewer may end up ruminating on the realms of what could have been rather than what is actually meant by the movie.

If you ask me I shall sigh and say I like Dhobi Ghat but I am slightly disappointed by it so...

Happy Watching

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