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Dhobi Ghat

Movie Reviews
11 August 2011

Rating: * 1/2

Watching a 95-minute-break-free movie (no interval here!) means a break from munching, slurping and burping (unless you stock up before you enter the screen). But for 'Dhobi Ghat', unfortunately, this undivided attention was completely undeserved. What was portrayed as a film on Mumbai diaries, came across as obvious lines scribbled on a notepad. Perhaps it would be perceived differently by a non-Mumbaikar, but if you've lived in this city, you don't need to be told why people go to Marine Drive or why The Gateway of India is thronged by click-happy tourists. It's like telling Mary about her little lamb (she doesn't want to know!).

So, the movie is about four unrelated characters, who happen to discover each other accidently and then continue leading their lives just as they were before. So basically, if they hadn't met, the result of this film would remain unchanged (right?). Anyway, Arun (Aamir Khan), a suave smoker and artist (in that order), has an overnight hump and dump with Shai (Monica Dogra), an NRI investment banker who wants to capture 'poor India, hungry India' (she puts it in more sophisticated words). Shai is also not shy in inviting her Dhobi, Munna (Prateik Babbar) home for tea and then goes ahead to shoot his portfolio, as he wants to be an actor (when will all the Mumbai underdogs give up on their acting dreams?). While Shai is busy scanning the bylanes of Mumbai with her camera, Arun gets deeply tangled with his new muse, Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra), whose depressing story is filmed in abandoned tapes that he discovers in his newly rented apartment. And then director Kiran Rao lost her pencil. So let's copy-paste the above paragraph two more times and there you go, 95 minutes of your life have been swiped.

Despite the aimlessly drifting script, the performances definitely deserve a mention. Prateik manages a convincing dhobi, rat-killer and gigolo (three professions that are possibly more unrelated than the characters in this film). Monica can be believed as an upper class NRI who wants to connect with the common man in an attempt to connect with her country (reminds you of celebs who click pictures of themselves squeezing cheeks of filthy hobo kids). Aamir manages his pensive role with great flourish, closely competing with the blob of white hair on his head that tries to steal your attention. Kriti does a great job with her narrative on Mumbai but the story of her life is too boring to endure.

It's a great idea to align characters from all walks of life with the background of the city. As a format, it gives you a broad canvas to showcase the multiple perspectives that each of them have about the city. But for some (at least the more traditional movie-goers), the concept of a story is that it should lead you somewhere. Or these accidental meetings (as shown in this movie) should atleast transform either of the characters consequently in some way. Even clothes in a washing machine appear different after twirling around for a while. Moral of this non-story: when life gives you a dhobi, serve him tea in your cup and if you're a rich and lonely hag, make him your dirty laundry.

You can reach me at guha.kunal@rocketmail.com or connect with me on Facebook

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