Dhobi Ghat: A film that goes in no particular direction

Producers: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao.
Writer-Director: Kiran Rao.
Cast: Prateik, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra, Aamir Khan.

MUMBAI: Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries), as the title suggests, is a personal account and, hence, hard to involve others. It is about discovering a part of the great metropolis Mumbai and being amazed at it. The trick is whether the same thing amazes the viewers as well! Chances are, the exercise may become as exciting as being invited to watch a neighbour’s vacation videos.

Mumbai Diaries here are limited to the protagonist’s exploits through a part of South Mumbai, colloquially called Mumbai 3. However, in its pursuit of weaving the concept together, the film generously takes liberties with the map of Mumbai. While Aamir Khan, a painter, is in Mumbai 3, the two closest dhobi ghats where the central character of dhobi (Prateik) operates are miles away in reality. It can be called cinematic liberty that he delivers clothes where he does and even mixes up clothes to deliver Aamir’s shirt to Monica Dogra who is desperately trying to locate him. There is also a fourth track of Kriti Malhotra, the previous occupant of the house Aamir rents, where he finds her letters written to her brother through a video camera.

Monica Dogra comes to Mumbai, supposedly to work on the marginal businesses like dhobis, fruit vendors and goes on a shooting spree armed with her camera. She opens her Mumbai visit meeting Aamir Khan and spending the night with him. She is very amiable, you see! Because, next she befriends the dhobi, Prateik, is concerned about his feelings but seems oblivious to the fact that the lad has fallen head over heels for her. As for her work, all she has to show are some coffee table book pictures of people on the street. So what’s new?

For most of its part, the film meanders with irrelevant scenes like the dhobi messing Monica Dogra’s wine-stained blouse top and offering to take it back for a rewash; Dogra’s conversation with her mother on phone. And, finally, Dhobi Ghat, so titled, is not about a dhobi ghat at all!

Since the film goes in no particular direction, that aspect speaks for itself. Cinematography is good and background music effective. Editor has no role in this film.

Prateik needs to add a few more expressions to his repertoire. Aamir Khan has a job on hand, not needed to act and just be someone. Kriti Malhotra has a tough job vocalising her video letters home and does a fine job. Monica Dogra is okay.

While the Aamir Khan brand may bring in a few initial viewers, Dhobi Ghat does not offer anything in the name of entertainment and little in the name of cinematic experience.

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