Dhobi ghat belongs to that class of movies that does not have fans or critics. You either absolutely love it and are completely blown away by it. Or you hate it and wonder why the hell the trash was made. There is no road in between.
Most of those who hated the movie wondered what the point of the movie, hat the message was. But in all honestly, does a movie really need to teach you something? The purpose of cinema is to keep you entertained for the duration and those movies will live a lifetime leaves imprints on your mind.
And the 95 minute spent watching Dhobi Ghat is spent completely worthwhile. It’s like reading a diary. Not of the loner painter Arun (Aamir Khan), the cutest dhobi on earth Zohaib aka Munna (Prateik), the NRI investment banker searching for her roots and fascinated by the underbelly of Mumbai Shai (Monica Dogra) or the newly wed typical village belle Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra). The diary is of the most poignant character or the movie, Mumbai.
The moods of the film, the emotions felt by the four touch you. You find yourself feeling sorry for wannabe Salman Khan, Munna, and excited about Yasmin’s explorations of the city. You are not surprised that Arun asks Shai to leave the morning after or that Shai enjoys spending time with Munna. Each of the characters grows on you.
To say the cinematography and background music are brilliant would be an understatement. They are without one of the brilliant works of recent times. Tushar Kanti Ray and Oscar-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla can take a bow. The theme music rings in your ears, much after you have left the theatre.
What made Dhobi Ghat work the ensemble cast, which is a class apart. They get the nuances just right, the NRI accent, the painter who talks more with his eyes than his brush, the excitement of being in a new city and the righteousness of the dhobi, who’d rather kill rats than be swayed. Kriti’s role might be limited, with just the video letters, but she touches your heart. The fading excitement and transformation is so natural. Monica shines through in every scene, so wonderfully comfortable in her skin. But the find of the movie is Prateik, no doubt. He has proved in this that he is indeed the son of stalwarts like Smita Patil and Raj Babbar. Understated and elegant, this man will touch the sky. Aamir too fits the quiet loner, with deep creativity to the T.
Kiran Rao’s debut and a mind blowing one at that. She has interwoven the story so well, that you know who your watching and yet it blends in and moves back and forth seamlessly. The stories don’t end, yet it’s not incomplete. This is a true slice of life movie. It doesn’t make tall claims to make you laugh, or doesn’t have dime a dozen songs. It’s as real as celluloid can get.
This is one movie that will be called a classic in days to come.