Mumbai Diaries….Dhobi ghat!

So, I happened to see this movie over the last weekend and felt that it was not a movie. But, to think of the story line and the narrative style – I felt for an amateur in film-making you can’t decide how good the screenplay is and stuff like that. Ofcourse, you can’t expect Kiran Rao to be a Spielberg or a Nolan, or maybe even our Indian greats too.

I would like to briefly touch upon the story line and probably make people aware that this movie should be actually given a try. Not for the sake of the happiness of watching a romantic comedy and believing everything in love is happy or a subtle movie suited for the multi-plexes. This movie is actually a true replica of how the modern India thinks like. Struck in between the taboos and the westernization, struck between the line that divides the rich and the poor, struck between the moralities and immoralities which vary in every body’s head. This movie is the closest you can get to see how India and especially the metropolitan cities have changed or evolved.

The story is strictly in Mumbai and follows closely the lives of 4 people for a very short span of their lives. It is a diary-based screenplay of showing everything in their lives on the big screen. The camera work in certain frames is really spell binding, because it is simple and easier to correlate with the theme of the movie. You get annoyed with the extensive usage of the handy cam, but again, that is part of the movie and looks like a deliberate attempt to go with the theme of the movie again. Certainly it is not the movie which is going to compete with the commercial cinema but trust me, there might be a section of audience who love the way the debutantes acted in the movie. Absolutely amazing!

This movie isn’t about how a typical commercial movie or an art movie progresses. It sounded as a perfect short story that you read on a blog or a magazine or a newspaper and has that spark in it to say, “Wow! that is a good story and a good narration”. I failed to understand the screenplay at times, particularly because it was a bit lagging on the pace and otherwise it was a brilliant attempt to a character-driven story.

There is no point in writing about the movie, as I would like to dig into the characters and understand what they are and how they are portrayed that made them memorable.

Arun is a modern artist and a professional painter. He is completely devoid of any human element in his life and is at a stage in his career where he is looking for an inspiration to work for his next exhibit. He is a recluse and he enjoys his space or maybe trying to break free out of that lonely world, but doesn’t know how. His lack of social aptitude is depicted in the scenes where he apologizes to Shai after the one night stand. When you go a level deeper into his mindset, you understand that he is a divorced father of a kid who is living with his mom far away from Mumbai. He is amazed and extremely happy and the brush strokes are back with superfluous energy when he happens to voyeur into Yasmin’s life through her video tapes. Watch out for grey streaks of hair on Aamir Khan. Probably, first time he is flaunting them in a movie. I don’t know actually.

Arun’s character represents a character who is emotionally drained and searching for a connection with the external world. Being in the creative field doesn’t help him either. He has to search for something that will inspire him and definitely help him out with his mental stage as well. Also, any disturbance in the life of a extremely creative person actually impacts more than what it does to a normal mind set.

The first prominent female character in this movie is Shai. She is a banker who is on a sabbatical and enjoys the break from her monotonous corporate work indulging herself in her photography hobby. She captures Mumbai through the eye of an inquisitive individual with a different set of idealogies that are uncommon for a native of that city. She has that energy to search for something which is so common in the lives of a mumbaikar. She represents the people who fall in love with a city for all it’s history and beauty. The innate beauty of any city is the people and she tries to study them and interacts with a lot of people and she is a born cosmopolitan. She has a crush on Arun after a one night stand and feels that they are connected on a mental level that is clearly visible through her speech and actions. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t try to build the story or screenplay on that front a lot. That is one of the loose ends of this movie.

Somehow this character is one of those hippy-ish kinda girls according to me. Maybe I am wrong, but I feel she is driven by factors that are typical of those set of people. The attitude that is represented in this character is a care free girl. She doesn’t care much about the job or any such obligations. She feels that everything should just sail and she will do whatever to make that sail smoother and will not care much and can run away if it’s turbulent. You can’t say that these kinda people have a passion and they will pursue it at the cost of their lives. They are mostly ‘I don’t care, I don’t know’ kinda people.

There is an interesting character ‘Munna’. He is a movie aspirant and a fanatic of  Salman Khan. Again, I loved the way the director didn’t go berserk on establishing the fact that he is a movie aspirant and works as a Dhobi during the day and a rat killer during the night and all for the sake of making money and feeding himself. It is not at all exaggerated and it was heartening to see that. Aren’t we bored of seeing the build up to the story entirely and characters lost in the cloud somewhere due to this exercise of the commercial cinema? Welcome change! His character I would rate is the best performed amongst all the other characters. I am not saying that Aamir Khan didn’t perform or wasn’t good. He was extra-ordinary, but that is expected out of him. Munna’s character is something that registers in your brain for a long time. The comic relief also comes through him in the movie. The guy who portrayed Munna was the same guy who played Genelia’s brother in ‘Jaane tu ya jaane naa’ in 2008. A level deeper into his character, you find him like any other guy of his age who has aspirations and is not willing to change the way he thinks. He has an infatuation/crush on Shai which is not reciprocated by Shai or maybe the intimacy is misunderstood by Munna that makes him the guy who is going to have a first love ending in a not-so-good state at the end of the movie. Though you never know how it ends 🙂

Munna is probably the sense of aspiration in the city. Easily enthused and doesn’t take a no for his priorities. He aspires to have a photo shoot in the studio but will take the outdoor shoot. He doesn’t run away from his mistakes, again, shown in the movie. His character shades are brilliant and they were equally matched by the histrionics of Prateik Babbar.

The most brilliant addition to this story is the character of Yasmin. She is the enthusiasm personified. She wants to communicate everything and anything about the city and her life and her mundane activities over a handy cam to her brother and family. She is unfortunately married to a guy who doesn’t share the same enthusiasm about her life. Later, you come to know that he has an extra-marital affair which will actually push her to killing herself. She resembles innocence. The dialogs given to her are actually very deep and mean a lot. Particularly, the one she tells about the sea somehow still lingers in my mind. “Sea is a great friend. She takes all the stuff we give to her and keeps calm about it and you can tell her any secret and you will know it is safe”. Bottomline, she defines the common Indian girl who is married to a person and tries to share her happiness to the world through her camera and with the intention that she is chatting to her brother through that medium. I mean, how often do you see women like that in the geographic region of  India. Subtle, wanting to be loved, stuck in a cruel world that is often ruled by flames of cheating, lies and misfortune. Arun’s character happens to see all the videos and finds the inspiration with all the happiness that is flown in the initial part of her home made videos and sinks into a melancholous mood when he realizes her misfortune and the way she ends her life. This character is another brilliant portrayal of the mood, the happiness and most interestingly the ‘innocence’ and the tenderness of a woman.

There is an underlying character which is a silent observer, much like the old nanny who resides in the apartment adjacent to Arun. That is Mumbai – the city! Probably, this is one city where many people thrive on the very fact that it has everything for every one. I have read about it and listened to many people who have lived in it or visited it. I am probably unfortunate to not travel to that part of the world to see and understand and probably correlate or even fall in love with it. But all these stories and talks about the city increase my curiosity and definitely making me look forward to the slightest of opportunities to bask in the sunshine of the city.  There is beauty, there is innocence, there is sorrow, there is hope and all in one city – definitely makes us feel that this character is probably the underlying current of the whole movie.

The ending of the movie, which I am not going to divulge – as I earnestly want each and every one of you to see for the simple reason that I want you to experience the same confusion I had at the end of the movie. Also, the same set of realization I had after contemplating over it. It is probably in a genre which is not a commercial or an artwork. It is reality and what astonishes me is the affect it is having over me. I mean, after Natalie portman in ‘Black Swan’, I am still able to rant about this movie and definitely makes me happy to do that.


Adios, people. Let me tell you – this is a very good movie, which doesn’t look like when you want to watch a comedy or pass time over the weekend. It is valuable more than the trivialities. It is ‘Real’ and hence ‘Superb!’.


6 Responses to “Mumbai Diaries….Dhobi ghat!”

  1. Karthik Says:

    perfectly summarised…really loved the movie…even though it left me baffled towards the end…..leaving an ending to the viewers imagination…..u should probably write one for Black Swan tooo…..Portman has given a performance of a lifetime…never thought that i would end up loving a ballerina based movie…

  2. Chandrasekhar Says:

    Yes. I started loving the movie as I thought about it more.

    Initial reaction was like ‘WTF!’ how can it be so unclear.

    Black Swan is having a deep impact on me. Can’t deny that at all. Natalie Portman for sure deserves an oscar and it would go down as probably one of the superb efforts to win an oscar if she does.

    And yeah, that’s true. Regarding the ballerina based movies….how often do you find a movie that is intriguing in the movies with dance as a backdrop.

    The french guy who acted in that movie who is the owner of the theater group specializes in ‘Capoeira’ about it..that’s interesting!

    PS: He is the husband of Monica Bellucci….one lucky chap! 😛

    • Karthik Says:

      you can say that again about him being lucky 😛

  3. Says:

    I have heard mixed reviews on Dhobi Ghaat so far. Crazy, incomplete, art film… etc.

    I liked your perspective on the movie, perhaps I shall give it a try!

    yeah, a lot of talk about Black swan and 127 hours. I am looking forward to seeing Black swan more than 127 hours though! And yes, was looking at Oscar nominations and looks like Portman would be front runner :).

    • Chandrasekhar Says:

      You definitely need to see the movie. Since all the perspectives are their opinions entirely..Not many would like to see a movie like Dhobi ghat for the simple reason that it is a diary kinda movie.

      127 hours is a bit over-rated movie. Perhaps you should read that book. I didn’t feel that it was a great movie. The story is exciting and all but movie I felt was okayish. 127 hours is totally a DVD-good-enough movie.

      Black swan on the other hand is a terrific terrific movie. It is Dark, intense and superb acting and even more of a fascinating subject of mind and it’s complexity. They are captured brilliantly. Give it a try.

  4. vijayenjoy Says:

    Em ra bunty ga e madya, blogs rayadam aapesinavu…… service lu bandh chesinava…….Chandu…..the social servicer….job manesi ela social panulu cheyyi ra paikostav!!!!!!!!!!!

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