Dhobi Ghat – Mumbai Diaries
As the tag line suggests, Dhobi Ghat is a movie that records the events taking place in the lives of 4 protagonists from diverse strata of Mumbai’s society.
Arun, played by Aamir Khan, is a reclusive painter who gets his emotional fix from voyeuristically following the life of a newly wed Muslim girl (Yasmin, played superbly by Kriti Malhotra) who has just shifted to Mumbai with her husband. Arun moves into a new apartment that was previously occupied by Yasmin and her husband and happens to stumble upon her recorded videotapes, which contain a documentary of sorts about Yasmin’s life. She was filming them to send to her brother back home. The beauty and idiosyncrasies of Mumbai, as perceived by a new inhabitant of the city, are captured perfectly by Yasmin’s recordings.
The third protagonist is Shai (played by Monica Dogra, she seems quite natural in the role), who is a New York investment banker on sabbatical in Mumbai, falling in love with her passion of photography all over again. She meets Arun at the opening of his art exhibition and is swept off her feet by his intense persona. She seems to be obsessed by him and yet does not manage to express her true feelings to Arun.
As would seem obvious, the show stopper of a film called Dhobi Ghat, has to be the dhobi or Prateik Babbar, who gives a very controlled and underplayed performance that seems way more mature than his short career in the industry would suggest. He is a dhobi, a night rat-killer (did not know such a profession existed before watching the film), an aspiring actor and a true Salman Khan fan, as evident from his bracelet and Khan posters all over his tiny room in a Mumbai slum. Prateik acts a guide for Shai in her exploration of Mumbai and finds himself developing a fondness of her company.
The movie can be described as a love square of sorts with Munna (Prateik) in love with Shai, Shai in obsession of Arun (Aamir) and Arun finding himself more and more absorbed in the life of Yasmin through viewing her tapes.
Overall, I would suggest one should go to the movie for its attention to detail and brilliance in direction. The pace might seem a bit slow to few, but it perfectly suits the film and one feels the need for the story to progress at the rate it does, to be able to absorb it fully. The movie seems more like a glimpse into the lives of inhabitants of Mumbai, with no definite start or end, rather than typical Bollywood affair where the audience gets a sense of “completion” upon watching the movie. Dhobi Ghat is more about the journey than the destination.