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Dhobi Ghat – movie review

Mumbai Diaries


Dhobi Ghat, movie review

Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) is Kiran Rao’s first feature film as a writer and director. It is the story of four people from very different backgrounds, whose worlds intersect and leave them forever altered. As they find themselves drawn into compelling relationships, the city finds its way into the crevices of their lives, separating them even as it brings them closer. Dhobi Ghat movie review …

One of the main characters – Arun’s life is drawn by Kiran Rao’s personal experience she has had as a tenant in Mumbai, having had to shift to a new apartment almost every year (due to short term tenancy laws). Every new apartment she moved to, she always felt a little warm from the last occupant, leading to the idea that she was in some strange way connected to the earlier tenants that had lived in the space before her. What if they had left behind something that revealed to her their life and secrets?

It is around Arun’s existence, that the other characters sketches are interlaced in Dhobi Ghat.

It begins inside a taxi in the pouring rain of Mumbai, the cab driver strikes up a conversation with the shy girl with an amateur video camera, shooting the grey city through the misted windows, Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra), and they find out that they are from neighboring towns back home in Uttar Pradesh. The brief encounter creates a small space of belonging.

Shai (Monica Dogra), an affluent investment banker on a sabbatical in Mumbai meets Arun (Aamir Khan), a gifted painter at the opening of his new show. Arun and Shai spend a night together, which later Arun cannot explain and Shai cannot forget. The very next morning they part ways, almost sure they will never meet again. This lady appears to be completely confused and ready to mingle just with anybody she meets on her short visit to the city.

Munna (Prateik), the young and beautiful washerman (dhobi) who delivers clothes to Shai’s house, aspires to be a film actor. When he learns of Shai’s hobby of photography he agrees to show her the ‘real’ city in exchange for her shooting his portfolio. Shai discovers the city through his eyes and her lens, and an unlikely friendship develops as Munna can’t stop himself from falling in love with her.

Meanwhile Arun finds a new apartment where he can resume his silent, reclusive life. In the process of settling in, he stumbles upon a secret that at first he is ready to dismiss, but later finds more and more absorbing: a secret that will find its way into his heart.

Fragments of experiences of these people from different surroundings is seen through a naïve video diary, black and white photographic images and painting – form a portrait of Mumbai and its people, bound together as they journey through longing, loneliness, loss and love.

Prateik was cast in a cameo in Aamir Khan Productions’ Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na has a substantial and very impressive debut as a lead actor in this docu-drama Dhobi Ghat. As for Monica Dogra and Kriti Malhotra, its their first film as actors.

The director had mentioned in one of her pre release interviews that Dhobi Ghat is not a mainstream bollywood film and even though it’s a 95 minutes film it drags.

Despite having an aimlessly drifting script, it is Aamir Khan with his underplayed performance and Prateik who is the main attraction of the film. It’s a fine documentary film on Mumbai, certainly not the fun filled weekend fare.

Cast of Dhobi Ghat-
Munna – Prateik
Shai – Monica Dogra
Yasmin – Kriti Malhotra
Arun – Aamir Khan
Vatsala – Kitu Gidwani
Amma – Nafisa Khan
Salim – Danish Hussain
Pesi – Jehan Manekshaw
Yasmin’s Husband – Ashok Varma
Neighbouring blank lady – Sanjivani Oagle
Latabai – Aasha Pawar
Vanitha – Jyoti Pawar
Munna’s Client – Babita Sehgal
Karim – Jitendra Shinde
Rakesh – Rohit Tiwari

Credits & Crew of Dhobi Ghat-
Written & Directed by Kiran Rao
Produced by Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao
Music Composer – Gustavo Santaolalla
Director of Photography – Tushar Kanti Ray
Editor – Nishant Radhakrishnan
Sound Mixing Engineer – Anup Dev
Sound Designer – Ayush Ahuja
Production Designer – Manisha Khandelwal
Costume Designers – Isha Ahluwalia, Darshan Jalan
Financial Advisor – Bimal Parekh
Executive Producer – B. Shrinivas Rao
Line Producers – Sunitha Ram, Kishor Sawant –
Still Photography – Jyotika Jain
Final Painting – Ravi Mandlik
Art Gallery work – Sukanya Ghosh
First A.D. – Advait Chandan
DI Colorist – Kiran Kumar Kota
VFX Supervisor – Ashoke Chowdhury
Publicity and Promotions – Spice
Publicity Designer – Marching Ants
Make-up – Jogindra Gupta (for Aamir Khan), Kamlesh Shinde
Hair – Joyce Luize Margaret
Action Directors – Javed-Aejaz
Written & Directed by – Kiran Rao
Dhobi Ghat, movie review