Movie Review: Dhobi Ghat

Nope. I won’t even attempt to sound intellectual and say that the movie is great in parts, and the blah blah. Dhobi Ghat did not work for me on Friday night. Dhobi ghat may work for me on Sunday afternoon 3 weeks from now, when I have no emotions attached to a Friday Aamir Khan release. Not when I have just been sitting on meetings all evening, and it is my only way to avoid slowing down my life. And Dhobi Ghat slows down the world around you. Come to think of it, that’s so against the natural spirit of the city that I know as Mumbai.

DUMB ALERT: I would likely look back at the movie five days from now, and I may say that the movie is a good watch. But I was quite bored while I was watching it. For some reason, I could not understand why some people were clapping at the end of the movie. It did not even seem like sarcasm. Maybe, I am not intellectual, after all. What is an investment banking consultant by the way?

What worked:

  • Prateik. Adorable, in the character (for most part) and the saving grace of the movie. Does not seem like a contrived character, not someone you’d want to glorify OR pity, not someone who’s character is clouded in fake conversations.
  • Monika Dogra is reasonably good. But I don’t see how she will move on from that character to any other mainstream character. She can be the next low budget ABCD movie star though.
  • Special mention: background score. For most part of the movie, the movie does not depend on any background score. It uses (apparently), the natural sounds and the stillness of the city. However, wherever there is, it’s poetic.
  • Some of the pictures (still) and the final painting of Yasmeen are beautiful.
  • Some of the camerawork is good, but not as breathtaking as Satya was. To me, Satya still brings out some of the best Mumbai moments on screen (apart from Rimjhim Gire Sawan from Manzil). What’s your favorite?
  • I like the screenplay for about 70% of the movie

What did not work

  • Pace: Extremely slow and uneven. There are times when you almost feel like screaming that you get it, you get it, and we can move forward. But I guess Kiran Rao made this movie as a self-indulgent Sunday siesta movie where pace is not the most important thing for storytelling. The feel and the texture is.
  • Editing: Some of the jumps are extremely jerky. It takes a few reels to get used to the four narratives, and
  • Dubbing: without realizing, I ended up at the Hindi version of the movie. And the dubbing is horrendous. Dubbing is where Monika’s character goes terribly wrong, and Aamir’s character comes out a little better than what it s.
  • Characterization: Aamir’s. Not thought through is an understatement. Seems like this time, Aamir did not get it right. Surprising, for someone who managed to look reasonably convincing as a 19 year old in 3 idiots. Even otherwise, Monika’s character Shai seems lost. I really don’t know why Munna (Prateik) and Shai did not run the final lap. I am not sure why the other random lady in the building keeps calling Munna to her bedroom while Shai (that’s the name, right?) cannot. And who was that random friend of Shai buyind dope? And what was the point of Arun’s (Aamir) family equation? And the casual relationship between Vatsala (Kittu Gidwani) and Arun? And Salim and Munna? To me, the part that worked were Yasmeen and Munna. Surprisingly, Kiran seems more comfortable handling the characters from lower echelons of society (which have anyways been beaten to death by avant garde cinema), but fails to handle the India shining generation. The obsessions and independence of this class are not even semi fuelled.

I can rant about the movie for a few hours. But the net conclusion is – For the want of a better word, its a Bangaali Intellectual movie :). You can IM about it for long, but its dull and its not a movie I’d recommend you watch in theater. But it’s a reasonable one time watch for a Sunday afternoon.

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About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

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