Movie Review – Dhobi Ghat

A close up of grapes, a background voice and a view of Marine drive from a taxi in the first shot is the most abstract beginning that Kiran Rao could have given to Dhobi Ghat, her first film as a writer and director. That being said, it couldn’t have been more engaging.

The movie released on January 21, 2011, it was one of the most awaited films of the year, mainly because of its unusual title and the fact that Aamir Khan is being directed by his wife.  Therefore, the movie was expected to bring Aamir Khan’s fans to the theatre. However, after watching the movie his fans might be a little disappointed because he is just Arun, an artist, in the movie and his role is not dominating the other characters, which is in a way good for the story.

The other leads have done a brilliant job. Prateik Babbar has played a dhobi, rat killer and an aspiring actor, who gets his portfolio shoot done by Monica Dogra, who is an investment banker and a passionate photographer.  The other female lead Kriti Malhotra was a virtual part of the story. But, she was the highlight for Arun’s character. Apart from her acting skills, what’s really striking about her is the original Urdu accent, where you hear the sounds of all ‘nuktas’.

The story is all about how their lives intersect and mingle amongst each other’s lives in the city, Mumbai. The film has lived up to its name Dhobi Ghat- Mumbai diaries. It explores the different shades of life in Mumbai without passing any judgments. The movie expressed what it wanted to and gave space to the audience to interpret it in their own way.

The cinematography is amazing. The use of camera is so refreshing that you like every canvas and the background score makes it even better. The music, costumes and make-up were very subtle.
Being produced by one of the most brilliant mainstream actors of Indian Cinema, it doesn’t really belong to that kind. It’s a new experiment in the Indian film industry. In fact before the release both Aamir & Kiran said that they were doubtful about its success and were afraid whether people would like it or not. Well their anticipations were not entirely wrong because the movie only has an appeal for the urban population, the rural people might not be able to adapt to its theme. In addition the movie is partially English which has further reduced a section of audience and appreciators.

In all the film is a great attempt. It belongs to a different league. Therefore, it needs to be received that way. Comparing it with any other movie will not be justified because it doesn’t share common grounds with them, except that it has the element of a contemporary love story.

The credit for this of course goes to Kiran Rao, for thinking something like this and putting it onscreen, and to Aamir for taking the risk. Well, it was worth it. Though the speed of the story tests your patience, it doesn’t let you lose it. In one line, it was interestingly boring.

Shikha Nehra

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