Last night like a fan of the Aamir Khan productions, I had the chance to a viewing of Dhobi Ghat. The indie handheld take on Mumbai is exploited in greater detail by Kiran Rao as opposed to Raj Kumar Gupta who gives us moments of reality in Aamir. This is perhaps the only place that Dhobi Ghat is perfect.

It moves between a stream of different stories all shunting each other. The goal, quite predictably is – where would they all collide? And they do, in parts.

But this is where the problems also begin with Dhobi Ghat. Its actors have tried to seem real-life by underplaying their characters immensely. I’m going to be honest, there were flickers from Kriti Malhotra but she never was coached or directed well enough to carry out the underlying sentiment in her video diaries. Monica Dagra disappoints. She can be cute and bratty but she is waddling her way through whether she wants to leave the crowds in mystery or to give them a clear answer. Her indecision causes her late reaction reflexes on the final cut. Prateik does a fine job but he is too constricted. Its almost like he is on a leash. And so, like Monica who can’t make up her mind*, Prateik faces external pressures in weak help and a poorly written part.

I believe Kiran Rao could see this film in her head long before it was shot and so she was already in final cut mode. Aamir Khan the tortoise of all our analogy of moralistic goals, trundles in and just can’t support the writing with ideas. Weak misfortune here. And then he goes and underplays his character. It was disappointing to watch on all levels. And even, overplays them (hint: almost the end, discovery of third letter). A fan was severely disappointed of what could have been one of the most defining films of modern India. It tries to hold true to the ‘Salaam Bombay’ brilliance.

The background score by Gustavo Santaolalla is interesting but its not recurring nor like most other indie films, build you one level at a time through its twisting plot. And then suddenly even this 90mins film seems stretched because its not ripe with the sentiment, the acting is weak, the direction is just shoddy. The only person who fits the bill is Tushar Kanti Ray – our dear cinematographer who seems to do his best to show the Mumbai of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ with the backdrop of the oncoming rains. It is quite a  well shot film. But again his editing counterpart coupled with Aamir’s meticulousness delays and Kiran not rising to meet the expectations, come up with a film that is limping away on itself. Its an attempt at making indie fare but which connects with the Third Estate of Indian populace.

conclusion

A fan was severely disappointed of what could have been one of the most defining films of modern India.