Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dhobi Ghat - Of yearning and frustrations

A song in the movie Namastey London goes like this - 

Kehne Ko Saath Apane Ek Duniya Chalti Hai
Per Chhupke Is Dil Mein Tanhaayi Palti Hai
In Dhobi Ghat, the lives of 4 characters - Arun (Aamir Khan), a painter who plays by his own rules, Shai (Monica Dogra), an investment banker on sabbatical and in love with photography, Munna (Prateik), a Dhobi, whose everyday objective is to make ends meet and Yasmin (Kirti Malhotra), leading an unhappy family life - come together on canvas to make for a commentary on human yearning and frustrations. 

The encompassing spirit of the city as an abode to millions that throng its shores, some aspirational and looking to make a mark, some, just running away from their unpleasant past, while, some others, just wanting to embrace its hustle and bustle, is brilliantly brought out through the 4 lead characters. The introductions just stand out in their simple to-the-point style. 

Yasmin tells a taxi driver, "I have been in the city for five months now, but still it feels strange". Shai tells Arun, "I have moved here for a bit, because, I guess, I needed a break from things to get new perspectives and some fresh air...". Arun lives out of "boxes" and moves often as leases run out. Munna tells Shai that he came to Mumbai to "fill his belly"

In carving out their own identities amidst a teeming microcosm, these characters try to find meaning in what they do, in an attempt to confirm to themselves, that, their mundane existence has a purpose. Their pangs of loneliness, their yearning for love and attendant frustration makes for a kaleidoscope of intense emotions. Even as they find nuggets of happiness, the viewer always experiences a taut rope, a feeling that the fragility of their lives would ultimately triumph.

Shai is exceptional - As a person hunting for realistic pictures in a city that thrives on dark realism, she impresses. Her accent just about qualifies for an outsider - accentuated words, pronounced intonation and a subtle hint of unfamiliarity with the language. Munna, unaffected by his surroundings, retains an innocence that is heart warming and immediately attracts Shai. Shai's natural curiosity is piqued by the eccentric behavior of Arun, even as he is tormented by a few videos left by Yasmin. Yasmin, always in the background, befriends her video camera and through the medium, engages in an outpouring with her brother that is sheer melancholic poetry. Kirti Malhotra has done a remarkable job!

The background music deserves an encore. It is, simply put, excellent. The sounds almost become a character in the movie. As scene after scene, in rapid succession, delves into the lives of these 4 characters, the effect, at first, a little disjointed, creates a definite impact that only random juxtaposition can achieve. Credit to Kiran Rao for achieving that! There are many unanswered questions; each character evokes enough intrigue and all along, the city provides a fitting background. 

This is a 9/10 movie that deserves applause. 


$$ said...

Shiva gives 9/10 and how can I not watch?! :)

gopal said...

Your view on the movie is better than movie itself. I saw the movie, but didn't notice the details you mentioned.Now I can relate movie with your description. Good description of movie. Good job Siva.

monica said...

It is a movie to be felt.. And not just watched.

Shiva said...

@ Shalini: Yes, you should and soon :)

@ Gopal: Thank you sir!

@ Monica: Right, you gave me the review first...!