Dhobi Ghaat (2011) - Movie Review

Cast: Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar, Monika Dogra, Kriti Malhotra
Director: Kiran Rao

Actor Aamir Khan's director wife Kiran Rao is getting a lot of kudos for her all-round success with the much-awaited 'Dhobi Ghaat' released Friday, January 21, 2011. The movie is top notch pretty much on all aspects - story, screenplay, characters, cinematography and music. It's a new genre in film making for Kiran. 'Dhobi Ghaat' is about the dwellers of Mumbai metro, but definitely not akin to 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Kiran is subtle but lucid in bringing out the subject.

'Dhobi Ghaat' is about four vital characters that share their journey of life. They experience pain and suffering, pleasure and fun. The fact that the director is able to vividly depict and deliver all this minutely and correctly is an achievement in itself. From diverse and different background, 'Dhobi Ghaat' characters share the bond of common concerns because of where and how they live.

Without letting out the story, here's a bit into what the central characters are all about. Arun played by Aamir Khan is an up-market artist. Arun runs into Shai, played by Monica Dogra, an NRI investment banker, at his exhibition. Shai befriends Munna, played by Prateik Babbar, the friendly neighborhood dhobi (laundry man). Arun discovers and gets engrossed in a video-taped story of Yasmin, played by Kriti Malhotra, the enigmatic ex-inmate of the house he currently occupies.

A newly married Yasmin speaks her mind in video letters to her brother. Arun admits he is a loner. But he begins to discover himself, including the fact, and he doesn't try to hide it, that he is uncomfortable with Shai getting close to Munna. Shai has some unfinished business with Arun. All this while Munna wonders if he would succeed with the uptown girl Shai. Aamir delivers more than a perfect performance. Well, this ain't new! Aamir also allows other characters to develop themselves and justify their roles equally well. Prateik Babbar shows his mettle, especially with dialogue delivery, speaking the slum lingo with ease and demonstrating gentleness in dealing with the uptown girl he loves. Necomers Monica Dogra and Kriti Malhotra are good at the debut.

Overall, the director succeeds in delivering well-founded characters in a good plot and script. The canvas looks real and that's a director's job well done. The director gets full support from others technicians. Tushar Kanti Ray's cinematography and Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla's background score are wonderful. Ray's lens portrays Mumbai very well. Kiran and Aamir have taken due care of objections by washer men and their associations. Luckily, after watching the film, the association officials were convinced that nothing demeaning has been shown about 'dhobis'. Some actually praised Prateik Babbar's performance as a dhobi.