TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Dhobi Ghat

Overheard, as I exited the theatre after watching Dhobi Ghat, that this is a film made for the high-class. What a classist comment! It is a film that weaves the ‘almost true’ with the ‘probably real’ very well. And for those who think that this is a film for the ‘high-class’, please re-consider your choice of film. Dhobi Ghat made no claim of being no-brainer, nonsensical, comic, action packed, masala Hindi film. The intent of the film or rather the content was pretty clear from its look in the promos and the poster. In fact, the film opened to business in a very demure, almost non-Hindi movie manner. If anything, then please do not penalise the film for having a storyline and some class acting. 

The film Dhobi Ghat has a subtitle Mumbai Diaries and the film is beautifully portrayed on cinematic canvas, almost like a personal memoir. In fact, it is a story of Bombay. The city of Bombay has been the seat of many such stories and always stories of struggle, be it in whatever form. Dhobi Ghat takes 4 different lives, 4 different stories, 4 different characters and spins together a story. And I admit, I loved the story-telling technique.

Husband Aamir Khan acts under the aegis of his wife Kiran Rao, who dons her directorial cap for the first time. Aamir, as he confessed in an interview, had to prove himself harder to his new director to get the role of the painter Arun. Oh well, worth every bit of extra Aamir Khan dedication, considering the fact that this wasnt an Aamir Khan vehicle. Aamir was very, very intense, restrained, perfect in his mannerisms and extremely evocative. Then again, if all that would have been denied, then that would have been a disappointment. But probably giving Aamir competition in each frame, with or without him was Prateik (Babbar). Effortless and simple. He was absolutely brilliant in his essay of Munna, the ‘dhobi’ who also harbours many dreams and emotions. Prateik certainly would be marked for this film. Well done.

The other two characters in the film are rank first timers: Monica Dogra as the America returned investment banker and Kriti Malhotra as newly wed Muslim bride. Both actors were first-rate and very sensitive in their respective portrayals.

I will not reveal any bit of the storyline here. I have always felt that most reviews take away from the film, than give. The story must be savoured by cine-lovers. Many film students, young and new, might have made similar stories into their diploma films but what makes Dhobi Ghat stands out is the production value that Aamir Khan Productions brought to it. And here finds, special mention of the background score. As I was delightfully aware of the Celtic guitar strains, I was also struggling to give a name to the background score composer. As it turns out, Rao has chosen Academy Award winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla who has composed for films like Brokeback Mountain, Babel etc. The music is, in no-way remotely Indian and yet, it speaks what Aamir’s inquisitive eyes say, it plucks a shy smile on Kriti Malhotra’s face, it beats the innocent heart of Prateik as does Monica’s.

Dhobi Ghat would not be a commercial behemoth. It would not be remembered by most. Those that will, will remember it as another film from the AK stable that defines the range of work and fine pedigree of Hindi films that are worthy of film festivals and global appeal without any unnecessary gimmick. Oh, and I take back my admonishing remarks on the gentleman who made that classist comment. Of course it is a film that is meant for a different class of people – true cinema loving kinds. 

Well done Kiran Rao. Take a bow.

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9 comments on “Dhobi Ghat

  1. Navneet Kaur
    January 24, 2011

    Nice one Dev. Your review did justice to the movie. The movie shows real, adult relationships. No teenager love type scenes, no drama, no gazing into each other’s eyes mouthing silly dialogues. It shows how two people can have a bond, be attracted to each other, but at the same time not have the need to express themselves, give the relationship a name or expect something in return. I also liked that it did not have a definite end or a close.

    At the end of the movie, I overheard somebody say ‘ye interval hua hai kya?’. Truly, this one’s for people who like their movies real, sensible and non judgemental.

  2. Dev J Haldar
    January 24, 2011

    Hahaha… I am laughing at the petulant comment about the interval!!!
    Agree with you whole-heartedly, about the mature handling of the film and the need to have more films like this as well. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Subho
    January 24, 2011

    Nice review, Dev… shows your deep understanding of the medium and music. Kiran would surely bag most of the best directorial debut awards next year. (Aamir was very clear – Kiran would direct him and Rina would direct his children 😉

  4. Dev J Haldar
    January 24, 2011

    Clearly, division of labour is preferred 🙂

  5. Navneet Kaur
    January 24, 2011

    Could somebody tell me what was the significance/symbolism of that woman who couldn’t speak?

  6. arjun mathur
    January 24, 2011

    Loved the review..This form of a review..makes me wanna watch the movie..Now i really wanna c wats behind it!!!

  7. Deep
    February 14, 2011

    I couldn’t believe they made a film like this is Hindi…it was like being in a dream man! Sheer awesomeness! LOVED the film.

  8. Dev J Haldar
    February 15, 2011

    @Navneet: Could be somebody who is witness to everything but can do nothing.
    @Arjun: So did you catch it yet?
    @Deep: In total agreement.

  9. vibhabhatt
    May 23, 2011

    very analytical review and loved all the characters of this film…………nothin unwanted.not a single scene, a single expression or a single word………..totally in place…………

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