1. Kiran Rao wrote the script of Dhobi Ghat in about 3-4 months. After Aamir green-lighted the project, it took her another three months to shoot the film. But it took Kiran and Aamir almost one year in the editing and post-production, such was their attention to detail. Says Aamir, “Films are made or marred on the editing table. We wanted to be sure that we came out with the best product.”
2. Aamir Khan, who is known to frankly discuss the script with his directors and give creative inputs to them, was at his best behavior while shooting ‘Dhobi Ghat’, debut-directed by his wife, Kiran Rao. Says Kiran, “Although I was open to all suggestions and Aamir did offer quite a few of them, my word was the final word on the sets.”
3. Aamir Khan has given only two auditions in his life so far: once for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and the second time for ‘Dhobi Ghat’. The story goes thus: Kiran Rao was skeptical about taking Aamir or, for that matter, any other big star in her first film because she knew it would raise the audience’s expectations a great deal. After a lot of auditions for the role of Arun, one of the primary characters in her film, she decided to let Aamir give a screen test too. Says Kiran, “And after that, I was sure that Aamir was the best suited to play Arun’s character.”
4. Aamir Khan is vocal about his love for ‘Dhobi Ghat‘, the latest film from his production house. He says, “Of the five very different films that I have produced, Dhobi Ghat is my favourite so far.” Notably, the other films from Aamir’s company, Aamir Khan Productions Pvt. Ltd., include critically-acclaimed and commercially successful films like Lagaan, Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na, Taare Zameen Par and Peepli Live.
5. Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao did not let work get in the way of their relationship. Although discussion “on the dinner table was always about the film”, the couple could spend a lot of time together during the shooting of the film. This is how: Aamir, who was playing the character of Arun in the film, was holed up in an old house (the shooting location) in the crowded locality of Bhaat Bazaar, Mumbai, for almost a week. Aamir could not go out of the house because if he moved in and out of the house often, the neighbours would become aware of the on-going shooting and that might have jeopardised the entire shooting schedule. Aamir gladly decided to stay put in the house all by himself, and without turning on the lights at night, so as to not reveal his presence there. Kiran Rao, the faithful wife, joined Aamir in the house all throughout while he stayed there. Aamir says, “We had to light candles in the night as we could not switch on the lights.” How romantic!
6. Kiran Rao, who has also written ‘Dhobi Ghat’, did not let in hubby Aamir on to the story that she was writing. As a result of this, Aamir was totally unaware of the contents of the script when Kiran first narrated it to him at their farm house in Panchgani. After a two-and-a-half-hour narration, Aamir was wonderstruck. “By the end of the narration, I had cried and laughed; I related so well to the story’s characters,” he reveals. And because he loved the script, Aamir told Kiran that he wanted to produce the film. Now, it was Kiran’s turn to be shocked: “I was happy but shocked. I did not know what to say. I just smiled.” Jokes Aamir, “But she never gave me a kiss and a hug… that’s still pending.”
7. Debutante actress Kriti Malhotra, who plays the role of Yasmin in ‘Dhobi Ghat’, was selected by director Kiran Rao for the pivotal role after the latter chanced upon a photograph of Kriti on the cover on a lifestyle magazine. Says Kiran, “I was holding auditions for the character of Yasmin, when I saw Kriti’s photo. After the audition, I knew I wanted her for the role of Yasmin.”
8. Kiran Rao worked on three drafts of the script of ‘Dhobi Ghat’. The first draft was loved by Aamir, but he had problems with the second one. Says Aamir, “When I read the second draft, I knew something was not right. I requested Kiran to re-do the script once more.” Finally, in the third and final draft, Kiran retained only a few elements from her second draft and many from the first.
9. Aamir Khan went slow on the publicity of ‘Dhobi Ghat’ because he did not want to give the audience a wrong idea about his film. Says Aamir, “’Dhobi Ghat’ is a very different film from what the Indian audience is used to seeing all the time. It has a story that will touch the heart but every individual in the audience will have his/her own interpretation of the story.”
10. Kiran Rao wanted a background score composer who could understand her vision of the film. But she had to go as far as Argentina to find such a music composer. She zeroed in on the two-time Academy Award winner, Gustavo Santaolalla. Says Kiran, “Gustavo not only liked the film a lot, he was also very excited to come on board the project.” Adds Aamir, “Besides being a master composer, Gustavo is also aware of the Indian musical traditions, and he used that expertise while composing the background score of ‘Dhobi Ghat’.”