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Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) - POST ALL REVIEWS HERE (Page 4)

BheegiBasanti IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 06 October 2005
Posts: 11062

Posted: 19 January 2011 at 7:43pm | IP Logged

Mumbai Diaries **

by Andrew Schenker on January 16, 2011

Everyone's an artist in Mumbai Diaries, Kiran Rao's Bombay-set network narrative—or at the very least aspires to be one. Part wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance, part portrait of the titular city, and part reflection on the class privilege of turning (mostly impoverished) life into art, Rao's film is least clumsy and most interesting when dealing with the latter, even as it's partially implicated in the same thorny dilemmas facing the director's on-screen surrogates.

Following a one-night stand between Indian-American financial consultant (and amateur photographer) Shai (Monica Dogra) and toast-of-the-town painter Arun (Aamir Khan), the two go their separate ways, each increasingly occupied with a third character who shows them new aspects of the teeming metropolis—and fuels their art. When Shai, on extended sabbatical from New York, befriends her clothes washer (dhobi), a handsome young man who fancies himself an aspiring actor and instantly falls in love with the toothsome American, more than a few eyebrows are raised among the locals. That class is a more rigid matter in India than the United States is a point frequently made, most explicitly by Shai's maid who upbraids her for her activity, dismissing the "dhobi boy" as "totally worthless."

Still, despite the bluntness of the class critique, the relationship between Shai and Munna (Prateik) is appealingly modest, the possibility of romance ever present, but nicely sublimated as the character's repression of desire delivers a more telling comment on the social barriers to love than any explicit listen-to-this dialogue. More problematic is Shai's interest in Munna as artistic "material." In exchange for shooting the aspiring actor's portfolio, Munna agrees to let Shai photograph him at the various stages of his washing work, a project that expands to guiding the young woman around the less "glamorous" neighborhoods of Mumbai. While this agreement allows Rao to construct her own cine-portrait of the city, which she does via handsome but not overly prettified views of the metropolis' vivid working-class quarters, she complicates the question of how to film poverty by incorporating Shai's own arty snaps into her shots. Lensing perfectly framed black-and-white pics, Shai clearly aspires to a self-consciously "artistic" brand of photography, and by cutting directly from her more rough hewn framings to Shai's images, Rao calls into question the propriety of mining exotic material for artistic glory.

Or does she simply indulge in the same impulse as Shai? Certainly her film seems more thoughtful about questions of class and aesthetics than does its female lead, but Rao's not above the same mode of easy prettification. In one sequence that seems to define the film's ambiguous attitude toward its central questions of representation, Rao films Munna on top of his shack roof, placing plastic over a hole in order to waterproof the structure in the middle of a nighttime rainstorm. The shot, whose ostensible content is the crippling effects of poverty, is filmed as a lovely overhead nocturnal view, the image of tiny Munna patching the hole set off against two trains zipping by in the distance, their windows lighted amidst the attendant downpour. But then, Rao follows up the scene by showing Shai discussing her adventures in slumming with her real estate magnate father. As the two laugh about what her poverty-phobic mother would say if she knew about Shai's project, the juxtaposition with the previous scene becomes an eloquent testimony to the relative economic positions of Munna, Shai, and Rao herself as a starting point for their participation in the creation of art—whether as author or subject.

Slightly less problematic than Shai's artistic interest in her dhobi is Arun's relationship with his own "guide" to the city. Despite his residence in one of the poorer quarters of Mumbai, the painter is signaled as both financially successful and an outsider to the city (he's lived abroad in Australia). So when he discovers a series of video letters shot by his apartment's former resident on a low-grade camcorder, he becomes obsessed to the point of curtailing nearly all other activity until he makes his way through the tapes. Determined to document the city for her family back in her provincial hometown, the woman, Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra), takes her camera to Mumbai's marketplaces, thoroughfares, and public trains, opening up the metropolis for the reclusive painter in the same way that Munna did for Shai. But if Arun, like Shai, is a self-conscious artist, than Yamin's work is that of a primitive, her nauseous zooms and choppy handheld work a more turbulent version of Rao's own rough-hewn aesthetic. As he makes his way through the tapes, and Yasmin's sadness turns to genuine despair, Arun becomes fascinated by the woman's face, eventually working her teary-eyed visage into his latest painting, a questionable decision that the film doesn't quite question and which becomes especially dubious when we learn Yasmin's ultimate fate. Still, even apart from the uncertain propriety of Arun's project, the scenes with the painter suffer from a certain static quality, mirroring the character's own hermetic orientation and diverting attention from the more vibrant question of Shai and Munna's romantic and (especially) artistic relationship.

A deceptively simple tale of four Mumbai residents, Rao's film is animated by its inquiry into the not always mutually beneficial symbiosis between artist and subject that complicates so much of human-centric art. That film is among the most human-centric of arts and that Rao doesn't adequately interrogate her own relationship to her subjects means that Mumbai Diaries can't quite match its own ambitions, but unlike popular Indian-set entertainments like Slumdog Millionaire, at least it knows enough to pose the right questions.

  • Director(s): Kiran Rao
  • Screenplay: Kiran Rao
  • Cast: Aamir Khan, Prateik, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra
  • Distributor: UTV Communications
  • Runtime: 100 min.
  • Rating: NR
  • Year: 2010

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noor_ayesha Groupbie

Joined: 21 November 2010
Posts: 58

Posted: 20 January 2011 at 12:04am | IP Logged
Cool...excited to watch it this weekend!
ZorZorSe IF-Rockerz

Joined: 01 December 2005
Posts: 8345

Posted: 20 January 2011 at 1:13am | IP Logged

i love to watch Aamir's movies

theprince IF-Rockerz

Joined: 22 December 2010
Posts: 7552

Posted: 20 January 2011 at 3:06am | IP Logged
Prateik wows in Dhobi Ghat

Sonil Dedhia reviews Dhobi Ghat. Post YOUR reviews here!

It's important for a first-time director to get things right. And mind you, debutante director Kiran Rao [ Images ] almost does. But just when she gets to the top of the hill, an avalanche strikes.

Dhobi Ghat is an unusual 95-minute film without an interval, unlike regular Hindi films. You don't know what turn the story will take. Even the characters are unpredictable.

And if you're expecting an Aamir Khan [ Images ] film, let me tell you, it's not.

Dhobi Ghat is a film about four people from different backgrounds: Arun (Aamir Khan) is a painter, who's a complete loner. Shai (Monica Dogra) is an investment banker from America, who is on a sabbatical. Zohaib alias Munna (Prateik Babbar) is a dhobi by day, rat killer by night and a wannabe actor in between. Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra) is a naive and shy newlywed.

The four stories get entwined with the fifth character, Mumbai [ Images ], the city of dreams, hope and survival.

Mumbai has been an inspiration for many filmmakers and has been highlighted in many films. But it is Dhobi Ghat that gets you into the small by-lanes that we haven't really seen before.

Cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray deserves a standing ovation for showing off beautiful landscapes, colourful sunsets over Marine Drive [ Images ], the festival of Ramzan being celebrated at Minara Masjid, the constant traffic, crowded streets and heavy rains, where one can actually feel the raindrops.

Full marks to Kiran Rao for using an innovative idea of capturing the essence of Mumbai through multiple formats. Yasmin's character is shown as a video diary, and that is amazing.

Jyotkia Jain's black and white still photography is a treat to watch. She explores the different kinds of people in the city.

The paintings, done by Ravi Mandlik and Sukanya Ghosh, stand apart and brings out what goes on inside Arun's mind. Oscar-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla's (Brokeback Mountain and Babel [ Images ]) music deserves a mention. It is in sync with the mood of the film.

Kiran Rao has tried to be as realistic as possible, and that's the USP of the film. Her choice of subject and handling is one of the reasons that makes this film watchable. But the film is not a straight-line narrative and so gets complex, and lacks clarity. The editing could have been tighter as well. The tense moments get too heavy after a point and would work only for a handful who appreciate realistic cinema.

The film clearly belongs to Prateik Babbar and newcomer Monica Dogra. Prateik gets under the skin of the character with ease and performs beautifully. His mannerisms and body language take you by surprise. Dhobi Ghat will definitely open many more avenues for the young actor.

Watch out for him in these two particular scenes: When he gets jealous with the liftman and in the end, when he chases Shai's car.

Monica is splendid to watch. She makes her presence felt everytime she's on screen.

Kirti Malhotra, as Yasmin, leaves a solid impression.

Aamir Khan's presence in the film, however, is a big question. He tries to restrain his character and that does not work for him. His English dialogues don't sound fluent. In fact, he's quite the misfit in the film. Wacko

Dhobi Ghat is sure to find a niche audience and will be a hit in festival circuits. Being a Mumbai-centric film, it may connect with the audience in the city. But it needs to be seen whether it will find takers in other parts of the country.


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ruky786 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 12 August 2006
Posts: 41375

Posted: 20 January 2011 at 5:08am | IP Logged
Originally posted by azeeblowing

Thanks Kiran for this lovly movie.

Wonder what Kiran is thinking? ROFL
Meena1 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 27 December 2005
Posts: 27397

Posted: 20 January 2011 at 5:17am | IP Logged

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ruky786 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 12 August 2006
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Posted: 20 January 2011 at 5:18am | IP Logged
^^ROFL Meena you make me laugh
BheegiBasanti IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 06 October 2005
Posts: 11062

Posted: 20 January 2011 at 8:03am | IP Logged

'Dhobi Ghat' truly world cinema': Rahul

IANS, Jan 18, 2011, 05.42pm IST

Indian actor Rahul Bose, known for his distinct choice of roles, can't stop praising Kiran Rao's directorial debut " Dhobi Ghat" and says the movie provides a world-class feel.

"Just saw 'Dhobi Ghat' at a private screening. Take a bow, Kiran Rao! It's one of the finest Indian films I have ever seen. If we keep wondering which is that Indian film that truly qualifies as world cinema, then our search stops at 'Dhobi Ghat' - poignant, touching," Rahul posted on his Twitter page.

"Dhobi Ghat", produced by Aamir Khan Productions, is one of the highly anticipated films of the year. Releasing Friday, the movie stars Aamir and one-film old Prateik Babbar, apart from new talent like Kriti Malhotra and Monica Dogra.

With Mumbai as its backdrop, the film traces the lives of four people from different backgrounds who meet each other, and their lives change as they go through longing, loneliness, loss and love.

Rahul, who has worked in international projects and been to many film festivals abroad, also wrote: "'Dhobi Ghat' has wonderful performances - prateik, monica, kriti & aamir shine with easy, true and layered work. Great editing and music too. (sic)," he added.

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