Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dhobi Ghat - TWO and 3/4th stars

I struggled to rate this movie. Dhobi Ghat is like a restaurant, where everything is par excellence viz., the ambiance, the service, the location, the prices…but the food is not so great!
The film has excellent cinematography, fabulous music by Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla, good story, amazing acting from every actor. With all these pluses it is sad that the movie doesn’t wow you.

Aamir Khan was superlative in Lagaan and Earth, after that I thought his acting was flawless only in Dhobi Ghat. He is known as one of the best actors in Bollywood but is not the best actor according to me. His superb performance in Dhobi Ghat could be because wife and director Kiran Rao who obviously knows him well, got out his natural reactions in scenes more than any other director can. But I must admit she has been able to get the best acting out of every single person in the film.

Prateik deserves a special mention and awards for his acting in this film. He reminded me of Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire. Urbane, posh accented boy doing the role of an uneducated slum dweller. In both cases the actors proved that you may not look the part, you may not even get the accent right, but you can still touch the audience with sincerity and honesty to the role being portrayed. I had predicted that this was a guy to watch out for after his small role in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Yes keep looking out for this new hottie on the block. It won’t be long before one of the biggies like the Mira Nairs, Mani Ratnams, Vishal Bharadwajs and Anurag Kashyaps of the world lap him up for their productions.
In fact, all the actors have played their roles commendably.

Kiran Rao has done a brilliant job of selling the film; most people [including me!] even remembered the date of release because of the way the film was marketed, not to mention the blitz of Aamir-Kiran interviews with sudden personal details shouting out from every newspaper. Mind you she is a very good director, but can’t really write the best story & screenplay. She might want to write a book to take care of her creative writing abilities. Her story telling skills seem more suited to book writing than on screen.

So what was the main thing that went wrong???
Though Dhobi Ghat has a decent enough story with somewhat thought out characters, the story seldom touches you or holds you long enough. Let’s just say that Dhobi Ghat touches you, but strangely you don’t feel much.
Kiran Rao should have dived in and made a full length feature film and not just restricted herself [and us] to 90 minutes, to understand/deepen the nuances of her characters. The feeling you are left with is a lot like a scene in the film where Prateik's character comes close to kissing the heroine, but stops just short!

Dhobi Ghat is a one time watch, simply because it is nice to see a debutant director so deft at production values and more - that too on a small 8 crore budget. One could see the influence of classic world movies and master directors like Fellini in her work. There are also some tiny similarities between Dhobi Ghat and the French classic film, Amelie. I will surely look out for movies from Kiran Rao, even though this was not one of the best debuts seen recently.


  1. Good review!! I loved the music of the movie..Rediff had conducted a survey which upcoming Jan movies the audiences were most interested in, and no surprises, Dhobi Ghat emerged the winner..Aamir, the marketing genius at his best again..!!!
    The cinematography was excellent.. n I loved the concept of a segment of the movie shown through home video.
    I felt Aamir was too big an actor for this role n some of "Shai"'s dialogues were in high level hindi. If she didn't have a command over the language how was she speaking such difficult words :)

  2. thanks...yes, the music was lovely...and the hand-held camera shots were interesting