The works of Shakespeare and Wordsworth are easy on the eye. But a deeper understanding develops only when we penetrate beyond those little words which are large at heart, immortal in soul. Shakespeare encompassed magic through drama while Wordsworth did his part with nature. Kiran Rao who wields the megaphone for the very first time through “Dhobi Ghat” fructifies with magnificence to create an impact that strikingly corresponds to those works of legends barring a difference in the medium. It would have been more or less tempting for a newcomer to venture into direction with a delectable romantic story. Kiran Rao ferries along the less accessed route minus all gloss to surfeit her creative expertise with an enterprising start. Dhobi Ghat is a beautifully balanced artifact with its characterisations and situations leaving behind an imprint that very few works generate.
A city of aspirations, a city that accommodates every stranger disembarking, A city that visualizes those beautiful waters of the Marine Drive, A city that is restless yet still, Mumbai is a mute spectator witnessing these four central characters converging with each other. Shai, Arun, Yasmin, Munna glimpse through the city in diverse dimensions. Despite resembling each other so much at heart,their ambitions, expectations from this very city are contrasting. Arun is a painter staying in close doors wandering for inspiration. Shai is a banking consultant from America who’s on a sabbatical feels Mumbai is indeed the place she wanted to be in. Yasmin, a child at heart ,despite being in the city past 5 years feels she hasn’t explored it enough. Our very own Munna arrives from Bihar to settle in Dhobi Ghat besides conquering a desire to be a film lead. Arun encounters Shai in one of his shows and the two share wonderful vibes with each other. Yasmin is a character harnessed out of a video tape that is left unaddressed in Arun’s new house. Arun views those tapes with much anticipation to discover facts about Yasmin. He admires her fascination for the city and her desire to relish modest exultations in life. Munna meanwhile, depicts the unseen shades of Mumbai to Shai journeying through the heart of the city. Shai’s captivated by the spirit of the city and Munna with whom she shares an indispensable connect. She snaps the memories of the city in her heart. Does the bond between Shai and Munna materialise into a substantial relationship? Did Arun find a hidden tragedy in Yasmin’s life? Dhobi Ghat delicately establishes an answer to each of the questions which translate into a film that’s very subtle and heartfelt in its illustration. Its a dexterous tribute to Mumbai, an indomitable spirit.
Acting is a question of absorbing other people’s personalities and adding some of your own experience-Jean-Paul Sartre
A director’s job is half done with the casting. Big names need not ensure a good film. Directorial vision lies in caressing the character with the right portrayal. Prateik Babbar, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra may not be heavyweights but are more than handy in investing soul in their performances. Prateik as Munna is top-notch in his portrayal and accomplishes masterfully to register an emotional depth into his role. He easily reminds us of his mother Smita Patil and he’s no less than an equal match in skill and sensitivity in comparision. Monica Dogra as a self-sufficient woman fascinates with her spontaneity and the amicability she brings to her character. Kriti by far has the toughest role as she needed to connect the film with her words and actions besides being natural. Her expressions reflect the incompleteness of Yasmin’s character beautifully. One could easily sympathise with the lines she uttered in the film. She’s a remarkable find. Aamir Khan needs no introduction. Besides allowing other characters to take over the film, he ensures a stirring simplicity in his depiction.
The cinematography never dominates the film yet it saunters along exceptionally to capture those unseen, neglected spots of Mumbai to those streets that the city has much of its populace in. The film much coherent with its theme has no songs and banks on a euphonious background score to let it sail. All departments complement each other in churning out this ornament. It’s ultimately an incredibly superb launch vehicle for entrant Kiran Rao who looks promising and definitely is much more than being a wife of Aamir Khan.Aamir Khan made me watch “Dhobi Ghat” but it was Kiran Rao for whom I cherished this experience.
Dhobi Ghat isn’t a film to compel you with its story, it rather relies on its execution to convey its essence. The film has an open ending sequence that we so often come across in literary works which entrusts your imagination to carry the soul of the work. It’ll work for people who are willing to take some time to comprehend its drama. It’s an experiment that’s rarely undertaken in Hindi cinema and it’s refreshing when a debutant director is inclined to go forward some distance in excavating purpose and thought in the viewers mind. While films like Raavan and Mumbai Meri Jaan did experiment with this genre, they were letdown by its over-dramatized content. Any film will survive on hype until it convinces a viewer to buy a ticket. Once the show begins, it’s the content that drives the film forward and this one does it with utmost maturity. Its indeed time for a change and the right film to propagate change!