Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) Only as Interesting as Its Peripheral Details

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Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)
Directed by Kiran Rao
UTV
Opens January 21

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Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)—a new Indian indie written and directed by Kiran Rao that’s kind of about a romantic rich man/rich girl/poor boy love triangle, but is mostly about vanishing culture in Mumbai—is sadly only as interesting as its peripheral details. Star Aamir Khan, who also produced the film, plays Arun, a bored painter and the obsession of wealthy student Shai (Monica Dogra). Shai also happens to be taken with Munna (Prateik Babbar), a lowly “dhobi,” or laundry boy. Though Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) mostly follows the flat-line courtship between its three main characters, the film’s melodrama features a wealth of largely undeveloped ideas about Mumbai’s rapidly disappearing living history. Labor-intensive crafts, like perfumes mixed by a local artisan, are being driven out of business by store brands, drugs and rats run everywhere, and camcorders have taken the place of paintings in capturing the city’s ephemeral moments. Sadly, the cast is mostly out to lunch—the characteristically stoic Khan is the film’s most expressive performer—and consequently, the protagonists’ dueling romances never get off the ground. Had Rao chosen to foreground her tantalizing ideas instead of her instantly forgettable characters, Mumbai Diaries could have been more than the sum of its parts.

 
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7 comments
UA
UA

In my opinion this movie was brilliant, the real India, of how these completely different people form this connection. Especially the ending when munna gives shai the number and shes gets teary, it was never about the romances taking off, it was about the city and the people in it. It was a movie which didn't follow the clichéd love stories. An artist who finds and loses, and finds his inspiration all over again; a dhobi who is in love with a person with whom society and practicality would never permit him to be with; a banker who has this need to understand, this constant curiousity, a newly wed who goes from being happy to suicidal and eventually dead.. and most of all the connection that is formed between these people, either directly or indirectly and how Kiran Rao manages capture all of their emotions and lives... that is what made the fillm brilliant. This review is indeed very misleading.

AF
AF

I think this review is very misleading. I feel the movie gives us a glimpse into the soul of Mumbai...to me, the four characters whose lives intersect in unusual yet completely convincing ways capture the uniqueness of Bombay..it's a city where anyone and everyone (from different walks of life/socio-economic backgrounds) can find a place ..and everyone comes to Bombay with their aspirations...seeking something... And the movie cannot be reduced to "flat-line courtship between its three main characters" as described in this review. The relationships between the characters defy neat categories...their depth and complexity arises from their very different social worlds...and kiran rao does an amazing job of capturing the unspoken yet understood boundaries between social classes that are difficult to ignore or easily overcome in a friendship...she draws us into the world of Mumbai and the lives of her four characters...and hte more you get to know the characters, the more you feel for them..and that's the power of a good movie or a novel - it's ability to transport us into another world..

Filmi Girl
Filmi Girl

It looks like the gender problem was fixed but I think this review is a great example of how a Western reviewer unfamiliar with Indian cinema can thoughtfully take an Indian film on its own merits - and not once mention "Slumdog."

Richard
Richard

wow, good job man, thanks for making Kiran Rao a man.

Damunsug
Damunsug

The reviewer is a dumb ass.Needs a crash course on...well...everything.

Fred
Fred

Anand beat me to it. Kiran Rao is a woman. Please do a little research if you want your work to be taken seriously.

Anand
Anand

Kiran Rao is a woman, Aamir Khan's wife. Do your homework before writing reviews. Have you even seen the movie?

 

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