Director gives Mumbai fresh face in film ‘Dhobi Ghat’

TORONTO, (Reuters Life!) – Western film fans who  thought they knew Indian city Mumbai after seeing “Slumdog  Millionaire” can forget that, and Indian moviegoers expecting a  Bollywood spectacle should be prepared. “Dhobi Ghat” is no  musical.

Instead, the directorial debut of Kiran Rao paints a  picture of a city with many layers and people in a 95-minute  drama that feels more like a western-style movie that a typical  Bollywood formula of song, dance and romance.

“Slumdog Millionaire” was the Oscar-winning film about a  poor Indian boy who finds love and money on a TV game show, and  for it, director Danny Boyle created a fast-paced thriller.
Rao, the wife of Indian superstar Aamir Khan, explores the  burgeoning city of Mumbai through complex relationships of its  disparate residents in “Dhobi Ghat,” (“Mumbai Diaries”) which  opened in India and parts of the United States on Friday and is  expected to play around the world in coming weeks and months.  It had its world premiere at September’s Toronto International  Film Festival and also played at the London Film Festival.

“I wanted to make a film about the different cities that  exist within one city. And that especially happens in Mumbai  where the city has so many layers,” Rao told Reuters by phone  from Mumbai.

The movie intertwines the lives of four, very different  people. Arun (Aamir Khan) is a successful artist whose fame has  led to a life as an emotional recluse, and Yasmin (Kriti  Malhotra) is a shy newlywed about whom Arun becomes obsessed  when he sees her in videos he finds in his new apartment. Munna (Prateik Babbar) is a poor, working dhobi (laundry)  boy and nighttime rat killer, as well as an aspiring actor, and  Shai (Monica Dogra) is a U.S. banker on sabbatical in Mumbai.

COMPLEX CITY

Rao said she wanted the four main characters to be from  different classes and backgrounds and different languages  because Mumbai is a complex city with so many people and  sections that its residents must co-exist, unlike smaller  Indian cities where caste systems are firmly entrenched.

She was inspired by the outdoor laundry, Dhobi Ghat, in her  adopted hometown of Mumbai, where dhobi’s wash the clothes of  the rich, middle class and poor in rows of concrete pens.

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