Star cast: Aamir Khan, Prateik, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra.
Plot: Aamir is a painter who chances upon three recorded cassettes left by the previous tenant, Kriti, in the house taken by him on rent. Prateik is a dhobi who wants to become an actor. Monica is an investment banker whose pastime is photography. They all are in Mumbai and their lives affect one another’s.
What’s Good: The acting by all the four lead actors.
What’s Bad: The inconclusive script; the very elitist appeal of the slow-paced film.
Verdict: Dhobi Ghat is for the thin minority which likes festival films.
Loo break: Several.
Watch or not?: Masses may avoid; classes may go for a different experience.
Aamir Khan Productions’ Dhobi Ghat (A) is about four people adrift in the city of Bombay.Their worlds intersect and leave them altered forever.
Shai (Monica Dogra), an affluent investment banker in the USA, is on a sabbatical in Bombay. Photography is her pastime. She meets Arun (Aamir Khan), a renowned painter, at the opening of his new exhibition.Arun and Shai spend a passionate night together for which Arun apologises the following morning. Shai and Arun part ways right then…
Munna (Prateik) is a dhobi who aspires to be an actor. He is the common washerman of Arun and Shai. He requests Shai to click his portfolio. Because of Munna, she meets Arun once again.
In his new rented house, Arun stumbles upon three recorded cassettes which he sets out to watch on his television set. The cassettes belong to the earlier tenant, Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra), and they make for interesting viewing till Arun comes to the last part which leaves an indelible mark on his heart.
Story and Screenplay
Kiran Rao’s story is extremely class-appealing. Her screenplay is very slow-paced and although there are a few light moments, it does tend to get boring for the average viewer. Perhaps, the biggest drawback of the drama is that it is inconclusive. The various stories in the film don’t have a perfect ending like the endings the Hindi film audience is used to watching.
Since the screenplay doesn’t spoon-feed the audience, leaving a lot unsaid, it would be difficult for the regular audience, fed on commercial cinema, to appreciate and, often, even comprehend the import of the scenes. For instance, it seems rather difficult to understand why Arun breaks down when he finishes watching the cassettes.Fearful, yes! But breaking down and crying aloud? Similarly, Munna’s aloofness from Shai after a point of time doesn’t make too much sense to the viewer.
All in all, identification with the characters except, perhaps, with Munna, becomes difficult for the viewers. If one were to speak in traditional terms, the film lacks romance, emotions, high-voltage drama and action. Of course, the film is targeted at the elite audience only but many among them would also miss the aforementioned ingredients.
Aamir Khan plays the character of Arun well. Prateik is endearing. He looks good and acts beautifully. Monica Dogra makes a promising debut and suits her character very well. Kriti Malhotra also acts with aplomb.
Read More: 10 Things You Did Not Know About Dhobi Ghat
Direction and Dubbing
Kiran Rao’s direction may not appeal to the masses but the classes residing in the big cities mainly would find her narrative skills of calibre. Gustavo Santaolalla’s background music score is terrific. Tushar Kanti Ray’s camerawork complements Kiran Rao’s narrative style. Nishant Radhakrishnan’s editing is crisp. Javed-Aejaz’s action scenes are effective. Dubbing (in the dubbed version) is very good.
The Last Word
On the whole, Dhobi Ghat is a gentry film for a very select audience which likes festival films. It will have to rely on Aamir Khan’s presence in its cast and the Republic Day holiday mid-week to take its collections to a somewhat respectable level.