Kiran Rao’s debut venture Dhobi Ghat is not your regular “Aamir Khan Film” which what peoples feels to be a realistic cinema but turns out to be a well made masala movie. Dhobi Ghat is a movie which is actually real and mostly due to the fact that characters are raw and believable.
The movie is about 5 characters in which “Mumbai” is a central protagonist. Each character has an independent storyline which is connected to each other. Shai (Monica Dogra) is an NRI banker who’s on a sabbatical and develops an increasing obsession for Arun (Aamir Khan). Arun is a loner painter who develops a bond with a girl after watching her video diary. Munna (Pratiek Babbar) is a dhobi who aspires to be an actor. And there is Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra), a girl from a small town in Uttar Pradesh who is trying to send a video letter which soon turns into a video diary. All these stories and characters reveal a face of Mumbai which is not always pleasant.
One of the best parts about Kiran Rao’s direction is her detailing of the human behavior. Take for example the scene where Shai invites Munna for a cup of tea at her home and before sitting he first feels the cushion.
But there are some things which come out as a sore point for the movie. Like the multiple number of jobs which Munna does still having time to meet Shai. Or the gangster round up of his character. Also even at 95 minutes the movie feels a bit long at certain points.
Aamir Khan does his part extremely well. This is not the star Aamir which we generally find many shades of in his movies. He truly becomes the self involved character who’s uncomfortable in socializing. The scene where he freaks out is one of the best enacted scenes of the movie. But his English dialogue delivery is too conscious and awkward.
Kriti Malhotra shines in her small role of Yasmin which oozes innocence. One actually feels for her grief and just wants to take her out of that box and tell her that everything will be all right.
Monica Dogra acts her part believably. Even though her accent sometimes gets on you still you are able to get over it because of her rock solid performance.
The real star of the movie is Pratiek Babbar who gets into the skin of Munna. His character experiences the most in terms of the variety of emotions and he performs all of them emotions perfectly.
Visually the movie is a delight to watch. The cinematographer in creates a picture perfect portrait of Mumbai. All these things are accompanied Gustavo Santaolalla’s haunting background music which stays with you even after the movie ends.