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January 24, 2011

Dhobi Ghat

A desi female investment banker from New York, on her sabbatical, meets a Mumbai painter at his art exhibition and sleeps with him the same night. Credit goes to the painter's masterful pursuance. Arun, played by Aamir Khan, is the painter under consideration. He is intensely committment-phobic and "No strings attached" is his personal motto. Hence, the morning following their one-night stand, he sits on the couch, sporting a dyslexic look, like Ishan Awasthi of Taare Zameen Par. Noticing his clamped mouth and uncertain frown, she gently inquires about the issue at hand. That is when he seeks apology for his previous night's misconduct under the pretext of intoxication. Joy ripples in her laugh and delight shines in her eyes when she gets instantly convinced at Arun's remorse. A blush glorifies Arun's face when she forgives him saying "No great deal Arun, it's the first time for me too".

Another important character is Munna, a laundryman with a perfectly worked-out body, whose chest-size is that of a semi-automatic washing machine. While on laundryman duty, he runs into the NY banker whose hospitality towards him is beyond Mumbai standards. After a couple of runs across, they subsequently strike a mutual deal wherein she agrees to click his photo portfolio in exchange for he serving as her Mumbai tour guide. However, per the universal law of masculine consequences, he mistakes her friendliness and develops a crush on her.

The fourth and final character, Yasmin, is an amateur video blogger. She leaves behind her blogged mini-tapes in an apartment, now rented by Arun. A grand total of three video tapes left by Yasmin is the only source of entertainment for Arun, as well as for the audience.

On a serious note, the graceful character, Yasmin, a middle-class housewife, is the heart of the movie. In the first tape, she seems very pleased with herself and records her random experiences and feelings in all positive tone. Yasmin, who comes across as a blissful, happy and fully alive housewife in her first tape, talks about a serious issue in a flash of revelation, in the second tape. During this time, you would certainly sense her confidence spiralling downward. In the third and final tape, the delicacy in her face and the strength in her voice withers away. Bitterness beams in her face and her eyes darkens with pain. Her tear-smothered voice shares her final decision on the tape like any other woman who got fed up with the harsh realities of loneliness, betrayal and defeat. All before she signs off for the last time. Very touching. Would certainly leave you with a lump in the throat.

The debutant Prateik Babbar was great, justifying his character very well. Innocence or naughtiness, he knew what he was doing. He looks good and has a very good screen presence.

Personally, I'm not so 'Bullish' on the investment banker's appearance on the bollywood radar anymore.

Honestly, the movie is not a great entertainer, as you might have already known by this time. However, from a directorial point of view, this is a challenging subject. Moreover, this being Kiran's first movie. The way the story was presented was appreciable and the challenge she has undertook should be inspiring to other newbie directors. Commercially a thumbs down, as publicly announced by the producer. Nevertheless, the subject is convincingly original and different from the usual lot.

Finally, the hype about the way Mumbai was picturized and presented to the audience is indeed a hype. A couple of pourings, few slum snaphots or a Ganapathi festival portrayal doesn't justify it to be a 'Better portrayal of Mumbai'. There have been better Bollywood and Marathi movies that have picturized and captured the essence of Mumbai far better than this flick, justifying veridical claims to an even greater extent.


S.R.Ayyangar said...

The story of Yasmin has no connection with the main story and film could have been reduced to 1 hour! Pratik fails to look like a dhobi and his dialect are not at all Bihari.

Victor Guerra said...

Ayyangar, I agree with you.. Infact, the movie could have been reduced to 25 mins too. The hype that says 'Four wonderfully woven characters' is glorification at best. That includes the no-way-relevant-to-the-plot video blogs of Yasmin.