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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Movie Review

Cinemimi[Thursday January 26,2011]
Dhobi Ghat tells the story of four different people in Mumbai. Monica Dogra plays Shaai, a banker who is on a sabbatical. The South-Bombay girl spends her days taking pictures and hanging out in the nooks and crannies of Mumbai with Munna (Prateik), her dhobi (washer boy). Aamir Khan plays Arun, a lonely painter. He sleeps with Shaai after meeting her at his show. Munna is his dhobi too. Arun spends his time watching videotapes left behind by Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra). And the stories do not culminate in anything.

Dhobi Ghat is disappointing and does not move you. It starts off as an off-beat film but becomes unnecessarily dramatic in the end. The drama and violence are out-of-sync with the peaceful and leisurely pace of the movie. The general perception about art films is that they are abrupt, sad, slow, boring, and abstract and the problem is that Dhobi Ghat plays by these rules. There are many art, unconventional, or festival films that are moving and soulful and yet have happy or pleasant open endings. Amelie, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, (500) Days of Summer, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Queen of Hearts, and Lost in Translation are examples of such films that are entertaining and in-sync with their premises.

DG is all about close-up shots, conversations, and moments between its characters. It is refreshing to see real locations and actors minus inches of make-up. DG captures how people have legal jobs by day and questionable jobs by night and how everybody is linked with each other as they survive and live it up in the city. The English dialogues are fine but they will be murdered when dubbed in Hindi. The movie moves at a leisurely pace and the conversations between the characters are realistic and normal. Arun’s track with Yasmin is engaging and original though it should have ended on a happy note. It is interesting to see Mumbai through the innocent eyes of Yasmin, an immigrant from U.P. Shaai and Munna’s encounters are funny and sweet but their story is cut short abruptly. It is difficult to comprehend Shaai’s feelings for Arun. Does she have feelings for Munna? Why doesn’t Munna tell her about the way he feels for her? There are many unanswered questions. Nothing really happens through most of the movie. That is fine because we get to know the equations the characters share with each other as they live their lives in Mumbai. The problem is that the movie becomes dramatic and depressing in the end. The characters suddenly realize that they have to cut ties with each other and do something with their lives. It seems that Shaai is unaffected about hanging out with her dhobi but later on, she succumbs to societal pressures. That sums up the problem with Dhobi Ghat as it tries to be different but succumbs to the misconceptions or boundaries of its genre.

Aamir Khan gets into the skin of his loner painter character beautifully. He leaves his superstar aura behind and makes Arun very real. He is the typical arty type who is appealing and moody. Prateik is a joy to watch and brings out the layers in his character. As Munna, the dhobi who does odd jobs to make ends meet, he is charming, entertaining, sweet, and vulnerable. We would love to see more of him. Monica Dogra and Kriti Malhotra are perfectly cast as the spontaneous Shaai and the guileless Yasmin, respectively. Kriti strikes a chord without actually being on screen. However, it is unlikely that they will make it in Bollywood.

If you enjoy watching interactions and conversations between people and have patience for leisurely-paced films, then you can give Dhobi Ghat a chance. Masala film lovers will have a hard time staying awake.


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