Friday, January 21, 2011

DHOBI GHAT review: Half - Slice of life cinema

A lazy weekend hello, frEek fellows!

Slice-of-life-cinema, in bollywood has tilted from the extremely schmaltzy genre such as "Life in a Metro" to the gut-wrenching such as "Mumbai Meri Jaan". Kiran "Mrs. Aamir" Rao's directorial debut, "Dhobi Ghaat" promises to be a slice-of-Mumbai-life film like no other. Does it deliver, or does it end up getting "washed up" (Dhobi...washed? get it?). Read on to find out:

Woh Dekh...Critics Award!!

What it is: Dhobi Ghaat, apollogetically publicised as the "the movie without an interval" tells the tale of a reclusive, divorced painter; Arun (Aamir Khan), a slum-teen; Munna (Prateik Babbar) who makes a living doing odd jobs from a Dhobi during the day, to a rat-catcher at night, and an NRI expat; Shai (Monica Dogra) who is on sabbatical in India. In very subtle strokes of circumstance, these characters from differing aspects of life are thrown together. Thrown together in this mix, is the video footage of Yasmin Noor (Kirti Malhotra); which Arun accidentally discovers and becomes intrigued with.

What works: Steering away from the above mentioned cliches, Dhobi Ghaat uses that long lost art of subtlety in telling its tale; Aamir Khan, known for his larger than life portrayals (Lagaan, Mangal Pandey, Ghajini) is refreshing in the role of the reclusive, temperamental artist. Monica Dogra displays earnestness, but the undisputed scene-stealer is Prateik; in his role as the odd-job Munna who lives in a shanty near the railway tracks, but earnestly harbours dreams of being a movie star.

What Doesn't: No Munni, No Sheila, No Interval: NO WAY!!

Rang De Basanti!!

Verdict: Shahrukh Khan in Om Shanti Om delivers a line which goes "Kahani ke end tak sab kuch theek ho jataa hai." Audiences in Bollywood are habituated to seeing a logical (mostly happy) end to their characters. Dhobi Ghaat steers away from this and other from melodramatic cliches, does a brilliant job in character study; while standard Bollywood characters are painted in borad strokes of black or white; Dhobi Ghaat allows each of its characters to display a wide range of emotions - and this is probably its greatest success.

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