Dhobi Ghat Hindi Movie Review
Intermissions are not just a time when you help yourself to popcorn and drinks. Intermissions rather are one of the most important aspects of storytelling in Indian films. Our movies are scripted with an interval in mind. There is a beginning, a build-up, a strong mid-point, a proper follow-up and then an end that marks a closure to the story. As Indians we are so used to this format that intermission are even forced Hollywood films that release in Indian theatres, despite the fact that they don't have any intermissions.
Kiran Rao's Dhobi Ghat is quite an antithesis that way. Although the story is very much placed in Mumbai the storytelling is hardly Indian. And that's also the intention. Both the producer and the director have been honest from the very beginning that the content of the film is not the regular commercial stuff that Aamir Khan has been part of.
What is Dhobi Ghat then? It is more in lines with the European films that we see at the film festivals. It takes its own time to unfold and leaves you with an open end. It has been shot wonderfully and have beautiful character sketches. And superlative background composition by Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla!
Dhobi Ghat is a story of four characters, all from different walks in life, and the effect that they leave in each other's life. Also it is about the city of Mumbai and how it leaves an impression on all four characters. There is one investment banker Shai (Monica Dogra), a dhobi Munna (Prateik), a painter Arun (Aamir Khan) and a housewife Yasmin (Kirti). Shai meets Arun at a painting exhibition and they find a connection. But Arun is temperamental and a loner whose only constant companion is smoke. Shai does not have the conventional hang ups and does not mind talking to Munna as a friend and even goes to movies with him. In the meantime Arun finds a muse in Yasmin, a woman who used to stay in his flat earlier.
Kiran Rao comes up with a beautiful piece of narrative. And also a near perfect cast. Funnily the only person who looks out of place at times is the star Aamir Khan. She also depict Mumbai beautifully - a city which leaves you with no space to breathe and yet so huge that it takes in everything in its stride.
On the flip side, as an Indian audience we expect a story out of every film. There has to be some movements and an ending. If these are not there, it leaves us disturbed. And being disturbed by a movie is the last thing we want in our lives! We like to take something away from the movie; even if it is just a song. In Dhobi Ghat the only thing that sticks on is Munna's character. A dhobi, a rat killer and a wannabe actor who gets his portfolio clicked is definitely interestingly. And there is more. He is 'company' to a married woman, who gets jealous when he spends more time with Shai! Also the pace at which the story moves can be quite a put-off if you are used to watching films where something is happening at every moment.
The performances are an absolute high. Prateik is subtle and seems to be very comfortable that way. Monica Dogra, who is actually a singer, fits into the character of that has diverse shades. Yasmin has a tough part and she does it with élan. Aamir Khan, with the shades of grey hair, is restrained. He looks unsure at first but gets into the character very fast. The perfectionist remains so!
Movies coming out of Aamir Khan Production always have huge expectation around them. The baggage only gets bigger because with Dhobi Ghat as it is directed by Kiran Rao. Our advice - Do not go to watch an Aamir Khan entertainer. Go only if you have an appetite for such cinema. And very importantly, help yourself before going inside the theatre. You would not like to desperately wait for a break so that you rush to the bathroom to ease yourself and neither would you like to sit hungry hoping to get the sandwich in the break.