February 4, 2011

Dhobi Ghat(mumbai diaries)-the review

Just not good enough!

 The main problem with Kiran Rao's self indulgent directorial debut 'dhobi ghat' is that it tries too hard to be 'serious' cinema,yet falls short in it's attempt.The movie is well shot,has brilliant music by argentenian composer Gustavo Santaolalla, complimented well with competent performances from the lead cast(comprised mostly of rank newcomers,except the big 'Khan') but is put down by mediocre writing.Too many things happen by chance in Ms Rao's world which is definitely one of the main drawbacks in the screenplay. The movie manages to be an ode to the much loved city of Mumbai,but seldom rises above being just that.

There are only five characters in the movie; Anand,a maverick painter (played by Aamir Khan) who is a divorcee; Shai,an investment banker(Monica Dhongra) from the U.S. who is on a sabbatical; Munna,the dhobi who develops a liking for Shai; Yasmin Noor,a newly married bride with a troubled present with whom we get aquainted with via the lost mini dv tapes chanced upon by Anand in the apartment to which he has recently moved in.The last character is the city of Mumbai herself presented in all her beauty and chaos.There is the Mumbai in rains, Mumbai of Ganesh visarjans, Mumbai of Marine Drives Mumbai of Mohd Ali road during Ramzan –  anything and everything an average mumbaikar goes nostalgic about.The movie is slow paced, quite expected of one which belongs to this genre.

As a lot has already been  written about this movie by the so called critics and the 'intellectuals', i don't think that there is any point in writing a very long review of the movie.Just sharing a few thoughts on this one.

Kiran Rao and her husband had already made it clear(in the pre release media briefings) that 'Dhobi ghat' is not the conventional mainstream hindi film and had quite uapolegetically stated that it would cater only to a niche audience.Quite a smart move indeed.But i seriously doubt the acceptance of 'dg' even among the so called 'niche' which Ms Rao and her husband were referring to for the movie neither has the sensitivity of an 'Amorres Perros'(Alejandro González Iñárritu,2000 )or a 'Life in a metro'(Anurag Basu,2007) nor the provocativeness of a 'LSD'(Dibakar Banerjee,2010).However Kiran Rao hasn't shied away from including almost all the cliches which usually one associates with the 'film school' type movies.As Raja sen rightly pointed out in his review,the film comes across as earnest but hollow.

Dhobi ghat essentially belongs to Prateik Babbar who is an absolute delight to watch.He has a teriffic screen presence and as the dhobi Munna(who is also a rat catcher/wannabe model/male escort), literally steals the show in dhobi ghat.The scene in which he is watching a movie with Shai at the multiplex alone is sufficient to explain what an excellent performer he is.He also surprises us in the climactic sequence of the movie.Monica Dhongra as Shai is also competent and her subtle portrayal of the confused NRI was effective.Kriti Malhotra was also sincere though one gets the feeling that her character(yasmin Noor) could have been developed a bit more. The final revelations about her doesn't shock us much as we had almost guessed something bad to have happened to her.Aamir Khan as Anand makes up for the absence of a saleable star in the movie.As Anand,the painter he has delivered a decent performance.

On the whole,Kiran Rao's Dhobi ghat is a movie which ends up as an average fare despite excellent performances and high production values due to mediocre writing.Buy a Dvd of 'Life in a Metro' instead.

Rating: 5.5/10