Irrespective of its genre, an Aamir Khan production is looked forward to with super-enthusiasm. Films like LAGAAN, TAARE ZAMEEN PAR, JAANE TU YA JAANE NA and PEEPLI [LIVE] have redefined cinema and in their own small way prompted film-makers to think beyond the stereotype. That automatically raises the bar for AKP's new endeavor DHOBI GHAT. Mumbai - this vivacious, lively and spirited city has inspired many a film-maker, novelist, writer, playwright, poet in the past. Kiran Rao's DHOBI GHAT takes a look at four different characters in this dynamic city.
Interestingly, instead of opting for the usual candy floss entertainer in her directorial debut, Kiran chooses to make a film that's very real and also that comes across as personal memoirs that have found a place on celluloid. It's more of a video diary on the inhabitants of this bustling metropolis. More importantly, this is a story about four different people - all from diverse walks of life - and how their lives crisscross in this voyage and how they cope with yearning, solitude, affection, friendship and loss. To me, Mumbai comes across as the fifth character in this film. The constant clamor of traffic, the sea of people, the energetic street life and the heavy and torrential rains dominate the goings-on from start to end. In fact, Mumbai comes across as a silent spectator here, watching each of those four characters mutely. Much like a septuagenarian [Aamir Khan's neighbor] in the film.
What catches one's attention is the fact that DHOBI GHAT tells four different stories in those 95 minutes in the most pragmatic manner. The characters are real and so are their stories, their emotions, their relationships, their smiles, their tears, their dreams, their desires, their fears and their tragedies. It comes across as factual and authentic as your eyes would observe and witness in real life. Sure, we got a flash of the assorted people of this city in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, but DHOBI GHAT doesn't follow the conventional route. It is far more subtle and restrained.