Dhobi Ghat – Arty Ode to Mumbai, Disappointing !

You are warned that this film does not have an Interval. You are warned in the newspaper ad, then at the cinema, then by the ticket seller and then by the ushers and popcorn sellers. They want you to buy the cola and the chips before the movie.  The movie is 95 minutes long, you can survive without a break for that much period, cant you?

Dhobi Ghat is a docu-drama about Mumbai and 4 characters who try to fit into the rhythm of the city and failing to do so.  The city gives you hope and makes you make an attempt to achieve what you have set out for. But ultimately the city is a silent spectator to your life.  This was what was presented in the well made promos.

Kiran Rao’s debut film shot in a 16mm format ( thats why the big cinema screen doesnt fill up) and with handheld cameras shot in guerilla style as they say has 4 characters. Aamir Khan’s Arun who is a reclusive painter searching for a new house every 11 months and not finding anything that suits him. Prateik is the Dhobi Munna who also works as a rat-killer at night. Monica Dogra is Shau, USA based investment banker on a sabbatical to Mumbai to pursue her hobby of photography and understanding the city. The 4th character is Yasmin played by newcomer Kriti Malhotra who is the Muslim housewife who records her life in Mumbai which begins on a happy note and ends up with a shock. Each of these 4 characters interwine as Arun watches Yasmin’s recorded videos in his new apartment and Shai falls for the loner Arun and Munna Dhobi with film acting ambitions fall for the super rich Shai. There are issues of class divide tackled in a subtle way. Issues of love found in unusual place.

The above para tries to describe the characters and the movie, however I am unable to go beyond that as the movie tried to do all that mentioned above and didnt do it well enough. The movie is a confused look of a confused director in a confusing city. Every known cliche of Mumbai is used to show the city’s character.  From Gatway of India to marine drive and bylanes of slums and Mumbai lifeline its railway and drug dealing, prostitution, streetside food, dhobi ghat to rat-killers and narrow lanes of Mohhamadali road to menace of underworld. Every known theme about the city is explored.  But it is just that. It is an arty ode to the city and nothing more. The movie is as confused and slow and boring and at times even 95 minutes looks long. At one moment I missed that Interval !

Many of the times the editor has forgotten to edit and the movie does nothing for minutes togather. The background score by Spanish Gustavo Santanolia doesnt provide much help either and sounds almost the same note throughout the movie. The theme sounds promising but surprisingly not much used in the movie. Camera work is real nice and captures Mumbai beautifully and in a different way at times from regular movies about the city.

However overall this is a ‘pseudo’ version of an art film. Just by taking away entertainment from a film you do not make an art film ! Art films also do have important stories and anecdotes and its moments but here there are hardly memorable moments and a complete lack of story and structure. The four characters all begin on a happy note and by the end it is revealed that all the 4 characters are not happy but have to compromise. Mumbai as the fifth character is a mute spectator to all this.  This huge ‘metaphoric’ stuff is difficult to grasp and understand for most of us ‘ignorant’ viewers. Audience was left speechless at the end of the movie , not by its brilliance but because nobody had anything to say about the movie. It was almost like watching a Films Division documentary on the city with no real meaning in the movie. If this is World Cinema then I am happy with my regular Bollywood masala entertainment !!

Aamir Khan is confused and his character is shallow plus the English he speaks sounds fake. Prateik is okay, I mean most reviews compare him with his mother Smita Patil but I think at this stage of career he is more like his father Raj Babbar then mother. Although he is indeed a charmer but thats it. Monica Dogra, the singer turned actress actually fits to the tee in her NRI banker character. Her accent is just like NRI Parsi would have and she is impressive. Kriti Malhotra tries her best but her character is not at all defined.

Overall its an experiment by Kiran Rao, well supported by husband Aamir Khan thanks to which the movie is seeing light of the day and getting a proper release.  More of a showreel of what all Kiran can do. I have seen world cinema, I have seen arty films and they all have good stories to tell, but here all the director has managed is to put in some fake anecdotes without any emotional coneect with its audience.

My Ratings – 5/10 Dhobi Ghat is disappointing, watch it if you want to see a well made ode to the Mumbai city and yes dont forget the popcorns, remember no intervals !

Bollywood – What next in 2011?

The year 2010 is gone, well almost. The films have come and films have gone , some have succeeded and many have flopped. The latest release ‘Tees Maar Khan’ did get a big opening weekend but then audiences saw through it and the movie failed from the 4th day and it would barely manage to cover its huge investments of 65 Crores knocking the poor distributors and  taking with it the reputations of its director Farah Khan and actors Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. Many of the small films released this year have done lot better than many big budget disasters.

2011 has quite a few big films releasing in first few weeks itself mainly to avoid the World Cup Cricket to be held from February 2011. First of its release would be Rajkumar Gupta directed thriller ‘No One Killed Jessica’ based on the infamous Jessica Lall murder case starring Rani Mukherji as the firebrand journalist following the case and subtle Vidya Balan as Jessica’s sister. The film does have quite different music loved by many and the promos of the films are quite a Hit with people. The  film does have lot of potential and is eagerly awaited.

Next up is the mad-cap Deol trio comedy ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana‘ starring the 3 Deols. The film’s promos are loved by all and the film promises to be a laugh riot. The music is quite popular and the dialogue promos make the film an exciting prospect. This film releases on 14th Janury.

21st January sees perhaps the biggest film if this half of the year, although not a conventional movie but a movie starring Aamir Khan is always a big proposition. ‘Dhobi Ghat‘ directed by Kiran Rao starring Aamir and Prateik Babbar promises to be a great film and based on early reviews from Toronto Film Festival where this film was shown, this one could perhaps be the best film to come out in a while.

‘Dil toh Baccha hai Jee’ starring Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi and Omi Vaidya is another comedy releasing this month in the last week. Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar this film does look different from regular slapstick comedies we have been watching.

Early February also looks busy with Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ staring Priyanka Chopra and ‘Patiala House’ starring Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma releases. There are many other smaller budget and medium budget films releasing as well.

Let us see if any of the above big budget films succeed in first couple of months of the year 2011 or the trend of small films doing better continues in 2010.

My Bet for the first 2 months – Dhobi Ghat would be the best of the lot,  Yamla Pagla Deewana to collect good box office money and No One Killed Jessica to be the ‘dark horse’.

Dhobi Ghat – Theatrical Trailer – BEST Promo in a long time !

Here it is. The Theatrical Trailer of one of the most awaited film of 2011, Dhobi Ghat. The film directed by Kiran Rao stars Prateik Babbar in a central role ably supported by the box office magician Aamir Khan. Its a love quadrangle you have never seen before. The film has been appreicated already in various International Film festivals including Toronto International Film Festival in early September 2010.

The promo is one of the best one has seen in recent times an the background music is haunting enough to make you watch it again. The Intoduction of 4 lead characters of the movie is brilliantly done. Cannot wait for this movie. The movie releases on January 21, 2010.