Dhobi Ghat = A Bollywood Renaissance?

So I had the blissful pleasure of getting a chance to watch Aamir Khan Production’s latest concoction, “Dhobi Ghat” on the big screen here in New York City. I am an AK fan, so yes I was excited to witness this spectacle. By the time the credits rolled, I was not only satisfied, but supremely amazed at the boldness and the silky, pure nature of this film. It was real, believable, emotional and stirring, but yet beautifully simple. I just had to break my three-month hiatus from blogging to review it.

The movie begins at this slow-rapid pace where everything seems painfully slow but is actually rolling on at a ten-minutes = one-night-stand pace. The first part focuses on character development and it is thoroughly pleasing to see that the Indian Film Industry has finally thought hard enough to develop interesting yet real characters. The film soon paves its way into a deep melancholy, but nothing that was sad enough to make you cringe. It climaxes with an acceptable and understandable disappointment. So yes, the end leaves you wanting more and does seem a little sudden. On retrospection though, this movie has deep, layered messages about India and life in Mumbai. Everything is transient, and so much happens, but in the end, everything and everyone moves on.

One of the dominating reasons I like this movie is that it was not a conventional Bollywood flick. It has no songs, is barely 120 minutes in length and is not scared to be real about sex, language and reality. A lot of credit for this obviously needs to go to director/producer Kiran Rao. She had a fresh spin on each of the main characters, and in what some might find dry, there is a lot of honest depth to be found. Prateik Babbar, i.e. the “Dhobi” was simply brilliant. He was delightfully convincing and genuinely charming in his slumdog-like role in this movie. Aamir Khan and the other chick did a decent job at personifying their persona too.

All good movies have one stand-out scene that just blows you away. This movie had one too. It was a first-person take of one of the characters in the movie. She was simultaneously filming and drawing on the shores of a beach in Mumbai, and every attempt of hers at this was lost when the waves strolled over and erased her writings. She did this a couple of times, chuckled and talked about how things are as transient as her writing on the beach. The sea seems to eat up all the secrets and keep them away from the world, making it a truly faithful friend. Yes, it might sound a little corny and I am sure my description does not do it any justice, but if you do watch this movie, enjoy that scene.

All in all, Dhobi Ghat is no epic nor a life-changing mindf**k. It’s a simple, classy, deep and a blissfully sorry movie that seems to throw fresh paint across the Bollywood landscape. It’s daring and I love that about it. It’s a must watch for sure. If not in the theatres, then definitely at home, but NOT while having dinner or eating lunch. Make time for this one and treat it with a tad bit of patience, and I promise you it will be worth the while.

P.S. The movie served as a lovely end to a 12-hour-day with a long-lost friend.