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A little more introspection, Kiran Rao!
Jan 26, 2011 07:29 PM 5360 Views
(Updated Jan 31, 2011 07:29 PM)





Ostensibly, "Dhobhi Ghat" is about 4 ordinary people, from different walks of life, experiencing Mumbai in their own unique way, frequently coming into contact, influencing each others experiences...changing each others lives.

To this end, we have Arun (Aamir), a reclusive painter finding solace and inspiration in the lonely young bride Yasmine's (Kriti Malhotra) video recordings. Then we have Shai (Monica Dogra) a well off Indian American, who comes to Mumbai for a change of pace from her investment banker avatar, finding an expression in Mumbai for her creative leanings. And finally there is Munna aka Zoheb (Prateik Babbar), who appears to embody Mumbai's frenetic energy and character by doing a zillion jobs...he is a dhobhi by day, a rat catcher by night, a tourist guide by choice, and an actor by aspiration! How these 4 characters collide, how their lives are influenced by the other, how tenuous and fragile these connections are , despite being so what Dhobhi Ghat is about..or so I think!

My Take:

I have been eagerly awaiting 2011 mainly coz I knew Dhobhi Ghat was going to be out in January! My mammoth expectations from the film were fuelled by the promotion of the movie as "parallel cinema/ world cinema" , by the presence of Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar (who showed a lot of promise in his earlier venture), and by having a woman director (Kiran Rao) at its helm...a lady who looks like she lives and breathes cinema.

I so wanted to like the movie, so wanted to be moved by it as I was by "Udaan"...and I was so disappointed to NOT feel that way! Let me start with the fact that it did indeed live upto some aspirations of world cinema. A great cast, fabulous background score, a great germ of an idea to inspire the screenplay, and brilliant cinematography showcasing a vibrant, alive Mumbai city.

Where it fell woefully short was the loose characterisation. A good movie does not necessarily need a dramatic script and story, but it atleast needs water tight the end of the 90 minutes running time, I still had no idea what the 4 characters were about!

Aamir Khan has been mostly criticised by reviewers for his casting in this movie. But I feel the criticism should fall on Kiran Rao's shoulders for writing this character! What was Arun about? What did he stand for? His painful past is hinted at, but does not really connect with the viewer. His reaction at the end, is even harder to decipher! Aamir, for once you SHOULD have interfered with the directors vision and put more of yourself in Arun...coz Lord knows Kiran Rao didnt do Arun justice!

Munna's character made sense in parts, until the end where he is abruptly shown to have a family and a brother.....why? And why is the camera so in love with his toned physique and his designer looking clothes? Instead, had the camera lingered more on his face (mobile and raw as it is) , Munna would have been an instantly memorable, unforgettable character. That beautiful last scene is wasted because the audience isnt given enough of Munna too hold onto before that scene.

Yasmine makes you wish we knew more about her or what happens to her...again a loose, unravelling thread in the narrative. Shai was the most consistent, relatable character of Dhobhi Ghat..but she was also the most annoying!

So at the end of the movie, while you might be haunted by Gustavo Santaolalla's (music composer) guitar strings, while you might have occasional flashbacks of a Munna running behind Shai......there is precious little else that remains with you from Dhobhi Ghat.

As my title for this review states...I wish Kiran Rao had put more thought into the characters and what she wanted to convey through this movie...I, for one, have no idea!

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Dhobi Ghat