Director gives Mumbai fresh face in film "Dhobi Ghat"

Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:10pm EST
 
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By Shadia Ismail

TORONTO (Reuters) - 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   Continued...

 
<p>Bollywood actor Aamir Khan (top) and director Kiran Rao are shown on the set of Rao's film "Dhobi Ghat" (Mumbai Diaries) in this publicity photo released to Reuters January 21, 2011. Rao, the wife of Indian superstar Aamir Khan, explores the burgeoning city of Mumbai through complex relationships of its disparate residents in "Dhobi Ghat," 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. REUTERS/UTV/Handout</p>