Monday, February 6, 2012

Mumbai Diaries (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)
Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Genre: Drama
Director: Kiran Rao
Starring: Aamir Khan, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra, Prateik Babbar
Language: Hindi, English
Duration: 100 min.
Rating: 7.4  

The story of four people from very different backgrounds, whose worlds intersect and leave them forever altered. As they find themselves drawn into compelling relationships, the city finds its way into the crevices of their lives, separating them even as it brings them closer...

Mumbai Diaries is the debut feature film from writer and director Kiran Rao.  It premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

Sporting an unusual style for an Indian film, a trend I hope catches on, this looks and plays out much more like a hand-held indie arthouse piece from Europe than what you would expect from a Bollywood feature, especially one produced by and starring Aamir Khan. Mumbai Diaries is the story of four vastly different characters that follows how their lives intertwine and affect each other in unexpected ways, all the while wonderfully showcasing the familiar and as well the unseen places and people of India's largest city. 

The sights and sounds here are most impressive, Tushar Kanti Ray's camerawork here using both film and digital tape, in locations that span from the gritty rain soaked streets to the soaring skyscrapers under construction, to the famous Dhobi Ghat which gives the film it's original name, he captures a living and breathing Mumbai that I have not seen look so vibrant and captivating before; and award winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla's bittersweet guitar driven score perfectly complements the tone and rhythm of those striking images.

The acting however was a mixed bag, with performances and dialog that frequently crossed over the line into soap opera territory, and Khan's over-the-top way of smoking a cigarette looked like something straight out of a Marlboro man commercial. Cool, but distracting.  Also the editing was quite choppy in a few places, making the flow of some of the conversations slightly awkward and unnatural.

Still, Rao provides an altogether fascinating look at the city, especially the less commercially viable areas that aren't often seen on film, and if Diaries was intended to be a love letter to the rapidly changing Mumbai, or Bombay as all the characters still call it, then the film is nothing less than a glowing success.

Bonjour Tristesse

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Mumbai Diaries • Dhobi Ghat (2010)


Bonjour Tristesse said...

I admit I'm no expert here. Of his films, I've only seen Lagaan and Ghajini and I don't know, they both seemed like very mainstream Bollywood films to me.

Mette said...

I was thinking the same as SDG - maybe you are confusing Aamir with one of the other Khans, Shah Rukh or Salman? Aamir usually makes more or less "unusual" films, except for his old ones and Ghajini. He also starred in Deepa Mehta's Earth.
Anyway, I'm so glad that you watched and liked this one - not as much as I did - but still. It's such a great film.

murtazaali said...

Hi Bonjour,

I hope you are doing fine.

Please follow the link to check out my review of Mumbai Diaries: 


murtazaali said...

When I had watched Mumbai Diaries last year, it had indeed made me experience a completely different Hindi Cinema. I believed then as I believe now that Kiran Rao had made a real honest attempt in bringing to life the caricatures of five different entities: the four protagonists and also the ravishing city of Mumbai. Your review made me undergo a sense of nostalgia, and I enjoyed it thoroughly!     

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Strange I'll have a look into it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I mean this is nothing like what you would expect for a film with his name all over it.  You are right, Yasmin's story was the most touching, I always knew it would be tragic, but I did love how it was all developed. 

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Führer.  I'm not a huge fan of typical Hindi films but this one turned out to be a nice surprise. I love when cities become fully realized characters.

d_4 said...

A visual treat.. it can wait, but  I'll catch it if I see it around.

Also, for some reason Disqus/OpenID seems to think that when I write ".com" it's ".in". It's been happening, I don't get it.

SDG said...

Though I am not sure what you mean by 'especially one produced by and starring Aamir Khan', this one is a welcome change in Indian Cinema. However, I have my doubts over catching this trend on because this film wasn't well received at the box office - a little too artistic maybe. I will agree to the fact that acting was patchy in it but made it work for me was the story and feel on movie. Of all the stories, I especially like Yasmin's storyline.

The Angry Lurker said...

Still not seen it but it's got potential......

G said...

I'm not normally into Hindi films...but i might give it a try

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