Dhobi Ghat - The Intersections of Lives

January 28, 2011
Watching Dhobi Ghat, the movie, was like eating a gol-gappa or pani-puri or pani-patasha, whatever it is called in the different States of our country! You chew the crunchy crust.... relish on the soft and subtle boiled potato pieces laden nicely with some sweet and sour chutney.... no break in between (!).  But just as the spicy masala water of gol gappa hits a little later, the same way the movie... its impact hits you, at least it hit me slightly later.

Amir Khan
I have to say that, although there was no story as such, no beginning and no end, as we are used to see in Hindi movies, but this movie does make an impact on the audiences' mind.  It's subtlety hits you after you thought you have seen what you were shown.  Each character has been chiseled out with appropriateness.  The motive of each one is subtly reflected by their actions.  And the overall view of the movie does not let you move your eyes away from the screen throughout those one and a half hours.

The beginning fascinated me. The frames showing the vast difference in the living or rather the structures of the buildings of Mumbai.  A slender building labourer works tirelessly against the backdrop of the many high rise buildings.  A phenomenon seen in every city, but captured by very few.

Interestingly, the story is a depiction of lives for four people living or who have lived in that space, at that time. I shall not be writing about the storyline.  But a genre of a movie like this definitely begins an era of movies where the portrayal of a common man is more real... away from the fantasy land... away from the idealistic way we want to see our heroes.  There is no "I love  you" and there is no hero chasing the heroine and no villain and no fighting.  It's not about love, for a change! It's about the ordinary life people lead... their desperations, their aspirations, their desires and their disappointments.

One thing which surely moves you is the way the character of Praeek Babbar is shown, and the way he has done justice to the role. He is really impressive and he surely takes the limelight away from all other characters in the movie, not that Amir Khan was wanting to steal any.  As a poor boy from a small town, now working as a washer man, dhobi, and basking in the appreciative eyes and smiles of a beautiful and elite young lady, he has done a fabulous job by being just right - shy, embarrassed, infatuated, and even hurt.... things were subtle... yet they move you.

The only one thing, which I don't like is the title "Dhobi Ghat". Why? because it does not really capture the whole essence of the movie. If someone asked me (!) I would have named it as "intersections"  as the lives of these individuals intersect at some point... sometimes faintly, but it does.  Dhobi Ghat, i feel, simply tries to capture the urban village aspect of our cities and also tries to showcase the Indianness, the ordinary Indianness of the people.

Praeek Babbar
The best part of the movie was the many unsaid things, the many unsaid relationships which, for a change this time does not proclaim about the  "janam janam ka pyaar"(!!!).  The temporariness of relationships, or rather i should say causal relations, sexual relations of need, of desire, of lust, of convenience where strewen around.  Does that show the changing face of our society?  Does that not show how convenience prevails in relationships?  Does it depict what was prevalent in the society always but was not really expressed before?  Does it not show that love is not the only thing which brings people together... in non-committal bonds of convenience and physical proximity? Somewhere it disturbs you.

Some where you seem to be facing the real picture.  An Indian audience, so carried away by the dreamy world of lush green fields, or rose gardens full with plump flowers and the love laden young, well dressed and good looking boy and a girl, finding their way in the open blue skies... aren't we so happy seeing those almost dream like pictures?!

This movie sheds light on those unsaid moments, those unsaid emotions which may not find a name, a respectable name in the dictionary of those who thought relations have to be sealed with commitment.  (By this am not expressing my personal views about commitment in relationships).

I can't call it a path breaking movie, or a arty movie which you want to relate back after some time, but definitely it leaves a mark on your mind, just as the the spicy gol-gappas remind you of it's flavour much after you had it!

Have you seen the movie? Let me know how you think about it? Does the fragility of relationships based on convenience disturb you? Let me know.


image coutesy:imageworldblog.blogspot.com and bollywoodhindimovies.net


Prashant said...

Hey...you reviewed it very well.. i must say.. this is one of the best that you have written on...

i think Prateek Babbar has been the best thing that is to happen in bollywood... this guy surely has a lot of promise....

will write about the same more in detail.. running short of time..and in a hurry to wind up things..

Prashant said...

and to add something more.. the first para.. the introduction that you attempted at the movie..is as good as any professional reviews i have read.. surely, this movie review is worthy featured in a better and superior canvas than this blog..

Harish said...

I am planning to watch this weekend.

Matangi Mawley said...

awesome review! i felt very similar... the movie did not get out of my mind for the entire day!

lovely read...

Vivek Chamoli said...

Hi friend,

Yup I watched the movie ,theme was nice , all actors played their character well , but movie should have been a bit more in duration 10-15 min. For me it look a bit short. Though I find it different other bollywood flicks.

take care.
have a great weekend.

Vyazz said...

I lot of people that did see the movie remarked on its erm artiness of it all.
I did see dobhi ghat, and frankly unlike the paani puri you described, for me it was like eating a gol gappa without the filling.
I kind of left me with "huh"?? that's it?? at the end.
But that's just my point of view.
A movie on a very similar note left me feeling the same way, it was a Hollywood movie called 'A serious man'
The same interjection of lives, the same pointlessness and the sudden ending.
Nevertheless, such movies are strictly an acquired taste. Like sushi.
Least Im glad u liked it!!!

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Prashant - thanks a lot, very surprised and glad to hear this! It has to be good if u say so :) thanks again!

will wait to read ur version. yes Prateek babbar was simply superb.


A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Harish - yeah watch it, but don't expect it to be some Amir khan wonder movie...it's not. and then let me know!

Matangi - wow glad to know that u felt like me :) welcome again :)

Vivek - hmm could have been slightly longer 10 minutes or so, right.


A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Vyazz - I can understand! other ppl who went to watch movie with me, expressed exactly what you have!!! so i can understand.

but i feel the msg was subtle,it was not even msg, just expression. yeah, like sushi!!!

thanks for ur views on this and welcome to this blog :)


Vee... said...

I haven't watched the movie. But I have been seeing mixed response from friends who have watched it. But I did watch the movie A Serious Man mentioned by Vyas, and I didn't like it that much. As he said, its an acquired taste and may be not everyone likes these kind of movies. That said, I will put forward my opinion after I watch it.

Prashant said...

Pratiek Babbar..was promising when i first saw him in jaane tu ya jaane na..he played the character of genelia's introvert brother exceptionally well.. from that act, he could only have gone better.. and that is what he is doing.. climbing steadily... !!!!

for me, in recent times, there were two actors who could tower over aamir khan while acting along with him.. one is pratiek in this movie and the other was siddarth..who did the honourable act in rang de basanti....

Arpana said...

I read different reviews of the movie written by different people, but i got more clearer picture in yours.

Aniket Jha said...

Really a review for a movie!

Vikram Karve said...

I loved your review so much that I am going to see the movie

flawsophy said...

I think this is a very balanced review ...

yeah ... the film is rooted in practicalities of life and explores 4 confused minds interlaced with 4 different failed attempts at finding love ...

As far as "sexual relations of need" are concerned, i prefer this only in comparison to other silly Bollywood movies where two aimless unaccomplished individuals hook-up for no realistic reason other than that they look good on camera while making love ... :)

let me leave at that ...

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Vee - right, not everybody is liking it. Oh, so u hv seen that movie! yeah, let me know what u think of Dhobighat once u see it.

Prashant - ok so those are the two promising guys! I don't watch many movies, so really don't remember the characters. Watching movies these days is just coincidence for me.

Arpana - glad for that!


A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Aniket - thanks!

Vikram Karve - Vikramji, u will like it for sure. It's very subtle.

Flawsophy - what a profile name! very creative! welcome!


Yes, a more realistic cinema is intersting for many, like me.

Well, i don't think, they were four CONFUSED minds, No. If u rethink u will agree.

thanks for ur honest comments.

and LOL @ last para


Anonymous said...

i think its a brilliant perspective of view more than a review. And i liked the metaphor you used to explain the movie. Wonderful write up.

zephyr said...

I have yet to see the movie, but this was a comprehensive review.

I have tagged you Restless at http://cybernag.in/2011/01/could-this-become-the-movement/

This is my first tag and I am doing for a cause. Do pick it up :)

Vivek Chamoli said...

wish you a very happy b'day.
may all your wishes come true.
God bless you. keep smiling always.
enjoy. .

take care.

Purba said...

Really nice review Restless and loved the way you interpreted the movie. Life is about unsaid moments and feeling unexpressed - everything is not always spelt out.

Anonymous said...

I would like you to read my short-story @ http://musicnscores.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/tears-of-solitude-hj/

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

HJ - thanks! and welcome! and yes, will read.

Zephyr - ok, sure will see and pick it up!

Vivek - thanks! how did u know?!

Purba - Thanks :)


Vaish said...

I should watch this movie, after reading this post! It definitely drives me, and is appealing for me!
Will watch over this weekend and comment back!

Jack said...


Thanks for indepth review. I am motivated to see it and if I do, I will let you know my thoughts about it.

Take care

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Vaish - hmm, if possible,then see it and share ur views here... would like to read ur take.

Jack - yes, pl let us know what u think about it.


amareshgautam said...

i would appreciate your comment on my review of dhobhi ghat
it is quite the opposite of what you have wriiten

i think you just like dhobhi ghat so you can feel a little snobbish that you understand “art ” cinema

Ayushi said...

Now that I read this post I am wondering (and regretting)why haven't I watched the moive YET? :O

Well, you were all correct while mentioning how unrealistic these normal Indian movies are! Now, thru this I have a good justification why I least prefer watching them! ;)

What a great read that was! Ah, lemme take this opportunity to tell just how much I am loving your blog! Scrolling back to the much older posts, catching up the interesting ones and Wuuuie there I am on a though-provoking spree! :)

Be Restless and keep blogging! :D

vathuthashi said...

I watched this movie few months back. This was the first hindi movie I watched this year. Your review made justice. Well done

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