Dhobi Ghat – The Intersections of Lives

dhobi-ghat.pngWatching 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.

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.

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.

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