Dhobi Ghat

I have always been partial towards people who belong to Bangalore. Call it my stupidity or my love for this city. Well, this automatically will make it clear that I always liked Kiran Rao. Here she was, presenting Dhobi Ghat, her first film as a director, to the world. And here was I, biased because she was from Bangalore, biased because of Aamir Khan, biased because I absolutely love Prateik Babbar’s timing biased because it had already been recognized by the so called ‘intellectual movie lovers’ and yes, biased because of the pseudo feminist that I am! Made it to the halls last night.

Dhobi Ghat - a film by Kiran Rao

There is an incident I would like to narrate before I can speak about the movie. My friend and I decided to catch Dharamendra’s Yamla Pagla Deewana on Republic Day (after wanting to go for long). The movie was scheduled to begin at 9pm. They let us into the hall only by 9.20 pm. The movie did not begin until 9.45 pm and finally when it did, there was a bloody technical snag and the show was cancelled.. Arrgghhh. Ok. That’s it.

Coming back to Dhobi Ghat – as we checked into the hall they scared us by saying the movie was delayed. However it started and zooppp, it stopped. Another technical snag! Double aarrgghh this time. However, the movie started. A tale about Mumbai was being narrated. I liked the V/O artist (at that point I thought that it would just be a V/O). Soon, there was Aamir Khan, playing the role of Arun – a socially aloof painter who wanted to sell his paintings among the socialites! Ironical but true. The movie then started introducing the other characters – Shai, played by Monica Dogra (NRI and a typical Page 3 socialite), Munna played by Prateik Babbar, (an aspiring actor who was at the moment adjusting with his life as a dhobi) and yes, Yasmin Noor played by Kriti Malhotra (the same V/O that I heard initially. She was weaving in the various parallels for us).

Yasmin Noor

3 characters with striking definitions that made us either like them or dislike them started dominating the film. And yes, 1 character, though was slightly downplayed, added another story and made it possible for us to see various emotions. It was the journey of a young girl to a newlywed bride. Her venture into the new household, her initial dreams of marriage and how it’s destroyed by landing up with the wrong man. All this being taped and narrated with love, innocence and passion to her younger brother. This story starts becoming the inspiration for Arun’s new painting.

Aamir Khan as Arun

Parallely, Munna starts developing a soft corner for Shai while Shai is still in love with Arun.  People come close, relationships grow stronger, situations gets lighter and make you smile at times and at times they get grim and cause worry. Unlike, a very typical ending, it did not define what happens in the lives of the 3 main characters. It was open ended and left to the imagination of the viewer. Well, I can say, if it was made by a Rohit Shetty or RGV or any other typical director then there was enough scope for a sequel of the film.

A still from the film

I absolutely loved the hues and the treatment of the film. It was more like a ‘Mumbai Yatra’ for me with Mumbai being shown in it’s typical and raw form – lively, captivating, encouraging, sometimes depressing, lonely, brimming with life and passion, supporting various segments of society. Yes, it mirrored society and depicted the city like how any NRI or a foreign director would. Coming back to the hues – I loved the usage of blues in the film – sometimes the colour was soothing, sometime brought in depression and sometimes when it got deeper just depicted the harsh reality of a life in a metro. I enjoyed the costumes in the film, especially that of Aamir Khan. Gentle colours, mostly linen and cotton defined his character well. (Oh yes, some branding was seen unintentionally – Marc Jacobs, Next and so on). The lighting as well was something that I enjoyed. Sometimes the tungsten was so dim that it would add to the eeriness and the irony that existed in their lives.  When love was blooming daylight was bright and set in the mood beautifully.

Lighter moments
Aamir Khan left to himself and his solitude
A moment of introspection and thought

Coming to performances, I would only like to mention that of Prateik Babbar – stunner and a complete winner. This is the second time he has made me go ‘gaga’ over him. Sinks into his character amazingly well and brings out various emotions beautifully. Could Aamir Khan deliver less? No. So, here we go – the movie had good performances.  Background score is surely good. It gets you into the movie and the pathos of their individual lives.

Prateik Babbar - I loved him

I am just a little skeptical about my own opinion about the movie. I cannot put my foot down and say ‘I did not like it’ or exclaim that I loved it. I am just confused. The story line has left me wondering what I should opt for. If I were to suggest, then watch the film for its treatment and yes, for Prateik Babbar. Don’t go there expecting a great story that would move you like a Taare Zameen Paror a ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Just go there to watch ‘Dhobi Ghat’.

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4 thoughts on “Dhobi Ghat

  1. I don’t like open ended movies, but I do like moving hues, Yasmin Noor, and Monica Dogra the typical Page 3 socialite! Great job.


  2. Yea. Open ended movies give way to a lot of speculation. But I guess here the viewer has been given the freedom to shape the movie the way he/she wants to see it end!! Or like I said, they can plan a Part 2!!
    Yes the lighting, costumes and cast are awesome.


  3. “Well, I can say, if it was made by a Rohit Shetty or RGV or any other typical director” well, RGV might have gone bit nuts… but pairing him with rohit shetty and giving him a typical director’s topi is bit too much meenu madam..! oh i forgot, he is not from Bangalore… well, i heard kiran rao talking and i saw what she had made, its a film which got lost in translation… but she managed to prove to the world how limited amir is, as an actor… (he gets the best line in the movie and he screws it up by saying it so dispassionately… “to mumbai, my muse, my whore and my beloved…”) i am a fan of amir khan and i think kiran rao can be a good writer and a very good film maker if she can shed the baggage of calcutta upbringing (in other words conventional intellectualism, in your words typical) and let herself go…! (She has a terrific smile and i always had a thing for women with spectacle)


  4. @ Sharath – Hey, I surely did not compare RGV and Rohit. I just have an opinion that like how RGV went on to make Rakhta Charitra 2 or Phoonk 2 he would have surely thought of making a DG 2 if he had to leave an open ending. Surely they are worlds apart.
    Yes, I also like women with spectacles!! There you go, she has a bonus cookie and I agree with you on how Aamir is precisely as good as his director! 🙂


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