Believe me or not, it’s a milestone in Indian Cinema
Just watched the first day late night show of Dhobi Ghat in a Mumbai multiplex. When I finished the film and till now while I am writing, in a strange mood of recovering myself from the thought that why the movie ended at that point and within a peace of oblivion that Mumbai rain, its bazaars, its local train, dhobi ghat, its shops, people’s hope are still in their places, they are not lost. A salute to you, Kiran Rao, that you had seen the city so closely and you thought that Mumbai’s beauty is in its rain and people’s hope, in connecting few very ordinary daily characters that suddenly become extraordinary just through your story. Dhobi Ghat undoubtedly is an amazing story telling and marvellous texture of human relationships which do persist like thin knots for a short period.
When a one night story starts with the flush of red wine at an art gallery and ends between a man (Arun played by Aamir Khan) and a woman ( Shai played by Monica Dogra) at a flat, a dhobi ( Munna played by Pratiek Babbar) became a conjunction between them by washing their cloths. Munna remained in touch with Arun and Shai but in separate ways. Shai always felt for Arun, but Arun found Yasmin in his new flat. Yasmin existed in this movie through her nonexistence in real character and through the video recordings she made for herself till her death addressing her brother; Yasmin used to live in Arun’s new flat. The records never reached to her brother, but dead Yasmin’s different moods got life through Arun’s brushes. Excellent screenplay can make you feel the Mumbai rain when it seeps into Arun’s whisky or it pours into mug through the big hole in the ceiling of Munna’s jhopri and creating a mesmerising rhythm with the Indian classical music in background. Munna could not express his feelings to Shai but gave her Arun’s new address. All the actors did justice to their characters. And when the movie ended, the nature of storytelling simply compelled me to think of firstly Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams and seconly Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Polish drama series Dekalog , where in every part, the story goes on but the sudden twist in the realization of the relationships in last fifteen minutes will blow you off.
To be honest, while I was watching the movie, the flamboyant guitar strings in background score reminded me of Brokeback Mountain; I told myself it must be the same composer. I checked in net and found myself absolutely right. It’s the same music composer from Argentina, Gustavo Santaolalla. Whoever had listened to Brokeback’s and Babel's background score, can easily identify the touch of Gustavo’s strings in Dhobi Ghat, it’s scintillating.
There is no denying the fact that work of camera played the most important role in the movie, starting from the first scene of video recording by Yasmin in a Mumbai taxi, while she was passing by Chowpatty and it was raining cats and dogs to the last scene where Munna runs in Mumbai traffic chasing Shai’s car in a long shot; specially the zoom in and zoom outs in different scenes were awesome; hats off to Tushar Kanti Ray.
Concisely, anybody who follows hindi movies or Indian movies regularly and very closely, can easily realize why this movie is different and its importance in international context. This is a movie where you need to apply your brain to feel the essence; it’s not a time pass of the weekend. Dhobi Ghat shows its director’s vastness of movie knowledge and an open outlook to the world cinema; supports the term “director’s cut”. It is a typical Mumbaikars’ movie but has tremendous universal appeal. Feel the movie.