It is a concept, not many first-time filmmakers would subscribe to. And that because, it clearly disguises itself as a methodology too challenging to be effortlessly welcomed by the average-viewer, who after investing in a film-ticket wouldnt bow down further to comprehend in-depth logic. This is debatable, as to how easy or complex you perceive the picture.
Kiran Rao, after directorially assisting in films like Lagaan, Swades, Saathiya and Monsoon Weddings doesnt reflect any similar nuances in her sensibilities but instead cinematizes frames of minds, expressions of originality and nakedness of its people through her unusual portrayal of confused yet determined emotions, represented by four strikingly contrasting individuals, with the city metaphorically demonstrating sentimental deficiency, but not once investigates its functional mannerisms.
Arun is an artist, his marital history tinted with shades of grey, on a lookout for substantiality to fill inner void, which has translated professionally resulting into his lack of inspiration. A nights encounter with an attractive NRI, who instantly gets emotionally engrossed, becomes an act of regret for Arun, who finds negligible solace in the tentative company. The diminutive attentiveness from his part weakens her, whose disappointment converts into momentary annoyance finally settling with an aspirational liaison towards Arun.
She is Shai an investment banker on a supposed sabbatical to stimulate the creative surges, which she gains from her photographic passion. Now, unintentionally her dhobi Munna gets trapped in, acting as a catalyst of soundness for her discontentness. Sheinterests herself by capturing the vivid lives and spontaneous moments the city presents, being considerably remote with the intensity of struggle and exercise of the people behind.
Here, Rao manages to conjure an unusual rapport between a highly unrealistic pair " a Dhobi, who isnt dampened to dream himself as a superstar, but simultaneously is aware about the limitations his life poses to him and an upscale professional willing to push herself to discover hidden meanings of her life.
The inviting approachability that Shai presents, which is just an attempt to fulfil her personal vacuum and attain success while at break, creates a depressingly passionate illusion for Munna - who by now is unaware of Shais fondness for Arun. In the meanwhile, Arun discovers an escape-route in the video files of the previous tenant where he is the current occupant. It features Yasmeen " who, with intentions to acquaint the city to brother Imran, records her variant experiences with a number of random people she comes across. This is an utterly smart tool employed by Rao to convey the disturbing hollowness in Yasmeens life and her unfulfilled desires which are not much " just to fit, at least within the brackets of average wedded life.
Thus, Kiran Raos story majorly centres on the aspirational dreams of her heroes which are not all the time pragmatic. Within this context, the city is shown in a rather depressed state, a fruitless and an unrewarding place. Tusshar Kanti Rays camera grabs the essence of the city impressively corresponding to the films character moods. It mystifyingly traps the irregular expressions of Mumbai, some which we see in our real lives as well as the ones we skip.
Raos protagonists are faulty and there is certain wrongness in all of them, probably because they dont behave the way youd expect them too. You ask them to see it straight, but there is where Dhobi Ghats greatness lies. In the evasion of the most lucid reactions and honest sentiments that might be things, the four arent prepared to accept. This comes out in the uncertainty of Munna towards his heroic ambitions. His improbability fluctuates with the anxiety that is preceded when his companions pass opinions on his portfolio.
Prateik is a terrific Munna " at times sure of his wit, laidback at moments, a streak of optimism but able to acknowledge the despair. In the scenes, where he is showing the city around to Shai " his eyes yell loud, with unerring expressions, the hopefulness of a probable romance yet his body-language strongly affirm his knowingness of actuality.
Aruns inspirational quests are accomplished through an unusual fashion but its the climax of the medium " Yasmins life - chronicled through videotapes, that breaks him terrifically even when though he isnt directly attached to the lady. Something that he doesnt even expect and something he isnt willing to be parallel in terms with.
Aamir Khan as the cloistered painter, trying to battle his inner demons, and voyeuristically sharing with himself, a penetrated insight of someones elses life is a believable Arun, who doesnt let his star-persona become an interference. This is one role, he hasnt portrayed and here when he does, he does it very well.
Shai clings to whatever she can gather and relies on expectations, but even she herself is clandestinely aware of that its only helping in building nothingness whereas in Yasmeens case, her eyes convey her feebleness and dependence on her man, a distressed story.
Monica Dogra who is the US-returned Shai is exceedingly superior with her enactment. Plausibility in her character is so much, she infuses tremendous amount of oxygen in Shai " the curiosity-occupied shutterbug who hides behind the lenses, futilely pretending indifference for Arun yet occasionally showing expectance.
Kriti Malhotra, seen only in the video footages, is effortlessly haunting, and perhaps the only character with who you feel serious empathy for the ugly turn of events in her already shallow, limited and monotonous life, which she tries to break by filling herself with the smallest possible fractions of joy and harmony.
To conclude an unsettled, non-linear and an avant-garde film, Dhobi Ghat politely brings into attention the isolation that creeps in, in a fast-paced, swiftly advancing city, that doesnt give room for anything as illogical as tears and aloneness. It presents itself in a dawdling, sluggish manner, which might annoy members of the audiences. The only emotion the film arouses is bareness. You dont feel anything; you are lost and arrested in the much depressing and helpless state of its many protagonists. The music (Gustavio) just rightly compliments the scenario, although it is understated at many needful instances. Dhobi Ghat is a film, where its people are on a lookout for something, and its unachievable, we know. That puts across a demoralising, gloomy picture and paints aloud a darker side of Mumbai. And this kind of an outlook is required, towards a city, which is forever shown in optimistically life-altering angles.