2010, Movies

Dhobi Ghat (2010, Kiran Rao)

This is a pretty good slice of life drama about four people from four different backgrounds in Mumbai. Though it’s a debut, the film feels like the work of someone who’s been in film a while and there is a lot of thought both in the telling and the way it is shot. (Though there may be a few too many montages.)

I’m very much on the fence with these movies where they interweave stories and, in a city the size of Mumbai, it’s probably straining credulity. However, the stories are woven together rather deftly, especially the way in which two of them connect. (I won’t go into detail simply because I appreciated how it was revealed and don’t want to spoil it for you.)

Moreover, unlike an American film of this type there is no main encounter or obsession with plot. Stuff happens – this isn’t one of those movies where there is literally no plot – but it doesn’t happen symbolically or grandly.

I’ve never been to India but this feels like an authentic portrait of a fascinating city. And so much of what makes India India is more of a backdrop than a dominant theme, except when Shai’s friends and maid tell her not to date below her station.

I like how unromantic the film is. It clearly could have gone a different direction and they wisely chose not to do that. It’s far better to acknowledge the realities of a situation than to indulge in escapism.

My biggest problem is the acting: 1 of the 4 leads is a little wooden and the woman who feels like the protagonist or, at least, the biggest star, has at least one scene where you really notice that she’s Acting.

But the rest of the film, including the score, is good enough for me to not worry too much about the acting, which is good enough most of the time, anyway.


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