November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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FILM/Bollywood Report

 

 

Review: Dhobi Ghat

By Zaira Rahman

Dhobi Ghat is a short movie – barely 90 minutes of an interesting work of art. The movie is written and directed by Kiran Rao. It was her first effort as a director. She has worked immensely hard on the details, and the script is definitely one of the strongest parts of the movie.
The film is about four characters belonging to different social classes. All of them get a chance to interact with each other in different circumstances in Mumbai. The movie revolves around their interactions and how their relationships will develop, even though they belong to very different social classes.
Aamir Khan plays the role of Arun — a renowned painter and recluse. Arun keeps to himself, not even making appearances at his own exhibitions. Aamir Khan, one of the most talented actors of Indian cinema, is Rao’s husband and producer of the film. He didn’t disappoint his fans in this portrayal, brilliantly essaying the role of a reclusive painter by delivering extremely natural dialogue that sets him apart from tmany other actors in India who are way too loud, flashy and commercial.

Prateik on the other hand is a poor dhobi guy — Munna. He works in the dhobi ghat (an open air laundromat) during the day, and as a rat at killer at night to earn extra money. But he likes to work out, dress up well and dreams of working in Hindi movies. Munna seems to be a Salman Khan fan – as he worked out regularly, there was a Salman Khan poster in his house and he also wore a replica bracelet, similar to what Salman Khan wears in both his real and reel life. Prateik is a born artist and truly represents the fact that acting runs in his blood. Like his parents Smita Patel and Raj Babbar – he delivers dialogues in a natural flow and gives apt expressions as and when required. Although he portrays the role of a poor boy, his character is quite sorted out and hard working from the beginning till the end.

Monica Dogra plays the role of an American banker (Shai) who has come to Mumbai while taking break from work. She belongs to an elite family. She believes in equality and becomes friendly with Munna despite their huge class difference. She asks Munna to show her the dhobi ghat and other places so that she could photograph them. She and Arun have a few romantic sparks. Arun, however, becomes agitated quickly before their relationship could go any further and there a gap develops between the two. Shai does think that there is an unfinished business between them and wants to sort things out. Monica Dogra’s character is an integral part of the movie, but her over all screen presence and appearance is not that memorable.  Though as you watch the movie, you do get used to seeing her.

The fourth character is played by Kriti Malhotra – another new comer. She plays the role of Yasmin. Arun finds a few tapes in his new flat in which he sees Yasmin talking to her family. She was a young girl who recently got married, missed her family a lot and was always alone. Arun is inspired by her natural way of expressing things. He felt her emotions, her pain, her loneliness and tried to understand her life through her tapes. Yasmin lived in the same flat in which Arun lives now.  Kriti Malhotra had a very inartificial way of conversing. The way she goes on talking about the things that we often ignore in our daily lives is very thought provoking.

For Kiran Rao’s first directorial work she did well.  The story and the script were quite well thought out. Aamir and Prateik were fantastic to watch. Though before the movie was released, it was promoted that it is Prateik’s film, but if you watch closely, almost all the characters are equally important. The girls were relatively unknown actresses and performed well in this niche film. The cast selection was impressive, as each actor did a good job of portraying his or her class. “Dobi Ghat” is a clean movie, and not at all commercial. Most art film fans and people who look for movies with some depth will like it.

 

About the reviewer:

Zaira Rahman is the author of “Pakistani Media: The Way Things Are”, available through Amazon.com, and “If Mortals Had Been Immortals & Other Short Stories.” Rahman is a writer, blogger and human & animal rights activist in Karachi, Pakistan.  She writes frequently about Bollywood film productions.