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DhobiGhat2011
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Dhobi Ghat (2011)

DhobiGhat2011

Dhobi Ghat (2011), (also known as Mumbai Diaries) is a 2011 Hindi drama film directed by Kiran Rao in her directorial debut. The film stars Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar, Monica Dogra, and Kriti Malhotra and is produced under the banner ofAamir Khan Productions. Aamir Khan plays one of the lead roles in the movie as a painter. Gustavo Santaolalla was signed to compose the score and soundtrack of the film.

Dhobi Ghat had its world premiere in September 2010 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was released in cinemas on 21 January 2011.

Plot

The film begins with Arun (Aamir Khan), a reclusive modern art painter, looking for a new house to shift into. He is seen with a real-estate agent, and finally decides upon a particular home in the older part of Mumbai, this being as per his wish. Arun is introduced to his landlady, an old woman who has never spoken a word for several years, and who seems to have an expression of deep sadness and melancholy on her face. He makes preparations to move in soon.

Later, Arun attends an art exhibition featuring his works. The exhibition features a visitor named Shai (Monica Dogra), an American banker who is on a sabbatical from her work and has come to Mumbai to research on traditional occupations, business prospects in South Asia and to generally devote time to her hobby, photography. There, she meets Arun personally after the latter gives a nervous and reluctant speech to the gathered crowd about his work. The two get along well, and Arun takes Shai to his home, where they involuntarily end up in bed. The next morning, Arun apologizes for making the incident seem to be “more than a relationship”, at which Shai gets angry and storms out of the apartment.

Just after Shai leaves, Munna (Prateik Babbar) delivers Arun’s laundry to him. Munna, whose real name is Zohaib, is a ‘dhobi’- a washerman, who dreams about getting a break in Bollywood as an actor. He is a migrant from Bihar, and lives in a slum near the railway tracks. Arun informs Munna that he is changing his house.

The next day, Arun moves into his new apartment. While he is unpacking his things into the cupboards, he chances upon certain belongings tied up in a small bag which had been left by the previous tenants of the apartment. He keeps them with him, and later investigates the contents of the bag. The bag is found to contain a silver chain, a ring and three video tapes. The tapes are labelled “First Letter”, “Second Letter” and “Third Letter”. The “First Letter” also has the name Yasmin written on it, suggesting that these tapes belonged to her. In the evening, Arun plays a part of the “First Letter”. The tapes turn out to be a recording of Yasmin communicating with her brother, who studies elsewhere, through video tapes. In the tape, Yasmin shows herself, her husband and her apartment, which is the same as the one Arun is occupying now. Yasmin wishes her brother luck for his exams and exchanges general pleasantries with him.

The next morning, Arun is informed by his manager Vatsala (Kitu Gidwani) that his work has received praise from certain corporates, who have decided to open an art gallery in Sydney featuring his works. Arun is greatly surprised and pleased by this news, as this will be his first international exhibition. This also gives him a chance to visit his divorced wife and children, who have settled in Australia. In view of this new exhibition, he begins work on a new painting which is inspired by Yasmin.

It turns out that Munna also delivers laundry to Shai’s house. Their first meeting is not friendly because of Shai’s bad mood over Arun, but she tries to make up for it later when she sees Munna with some of his friends at a theatre. Soon, they grow to become good friends, and Munna agrees to show Shai around the city of Mumbai, and help her gather photographs about the occupations of the poor. In return, Shai agrees to shoot a portfolio of Munna so as to help him out in getting a foothold in the film industry.

As the film progresses, Arun sees more and more of Yasmin’s tapes and comes to know more about her. It is revealed that Yasmin is from Uttar Pradesh, and had recently married to a little-speaking man. They shifted to Mumbai, and rented the apartment. The same landlady is shown, with the same silence and expression of melancholy. Yasmin declares that since her brother cannot visit Mumbai soon, she herself would help him tour Mumbai using the video tapes. At the same time, Arun still feels guilty about Shai.

Shai finds out that Munna also delivers laundry to Arun, and obtains his new address from him. One night, she goes to the road where Arun lives, but remains in her car to see if Arun comes out. She reveals to an accompanying friend that she hasn’t completely lost interest in Arun, and feels that there is some “unfinished business”. Shai wishes to be close to Arun, and so she rents a house opposite to Arun’s from where she can have a clear view of Arun’s house and of whatever he does inside. Arun, however, is unaware of this.

Arun’s painting starts taking shape, and he continues seeing Yasmin’s tapes. Meanwhile, Munna is still struggling to find work in the industry. To earn a living, he washes clothes by day and kills rats by night. He disapproves of his brother’s illegal ways of earning fast cash, and prefers to have an honest job. However, they both are very close and Munna’s brother uses his underworld contacts to try get Munna a break in the industry. Subsequently, he receives the photos of his portfolio from Shai, and thinks of sending them to a producer whom his brother contacted. During all this, Munna has been showing Shai the different facets of Mumbai – it’s labourers, the shoe polishers, the fish markets, and Dhobi Ghaat (where Munna works). As time goes by, Munna develops feelings for Shai but is unable to express them, partly because of his shyness and partly because of his low stature in life. Shai’s housekeeper also advices Shai to keep away from Munna.

The next day, Shai is returning to her apartment when she suddenly sees Arun walking towards her. Inspite of a hurried attempt to hide herself, Arun finds her and invites her to his house. There, he again apologises to Shai about that night, and they again reaffirm their friendship. At that moment, Munna arrives to deliver the laundry and sees them together. Mistaking the situation, he becomes dejected and feels betrayed. However, Shai rushes back to him, understanding that he was unpleasantly surprised, and reassures him to keep helping her out. Munna finally agrees.

On the day when they Munna is to visit the producer, a man arrives at the producer’s office and tells Munna’s brother that the “Boss” is calling him for dinner, and may offer a promotion. There is a veiled threat in the proposition, clearly signalling that this was not a request. They scrap the plans to visit the producer that day, and Munna goes back to kill rats. However, Shai, who is still continuing her photography, sees Munna. The latter becomes frightened and runs away from her.

Cast

Prateik Babbar as Munna
Aamir Khan as Arun
Monica Dogra as Shai
Kriti Malhotra as Yasmin
Kittu Gidwani as Vatsala
Nafisa Khan as Amma

Sound Tracks

“A Love Letter To The City”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“Arun Getting Closer To Yasmin”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“Arun’s Final Painting”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“At The Ghat”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“Intersections”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“Longing, Loneliness, Loss And Love”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“Munna Falling In Love With Shai”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“Munna’s Love”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“Shai And Munna Bond”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

“The Aftermath”
Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Music Label T-Series

Reviewed by ChathuRangA on 28 February 2011

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