'Dhobi Ghat' displays Mumbai's myriad colours (Movie Preview)

New Delhi, Jan 17 (IANS) Bollywood's Mr. Perfectionist is back. After taking the audiences by storm with the blockbuster "3 Idiots", Aamir Khan is returning to the screen with wife Kiran Rao's debut directorial venture "Dhobi Ghat". The film is releasing Friday and expectations are riding high.

This will be Aamir's first release after more than a year.

Produced by Aamir Khan Productions, the highly anticipated film has some new talent in Kriti Malhotra and Monica Dogra and also stars Prateik Babbar - this is his second movie after "Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na".

Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla has composed the background score and soundtrack of the drama that puts the spotlight on different lifestyles of the city.

With a Dhobi Ghat (washermen's row) as the backdrop, the film tells the story of four people from different backgrounds who meet each other, after which their lives are altered forever as they go through longing, loneliness, loss and love.

Prateik plays Munna, a washerboy who aspires to be an actor and is a huge fan of Salman Khan, while Aamir will be seen as a reclusive and lonely modern art painter. Monica is an investment banker named Shai and Kriti plays the role of Yasmin.

Kiran says she went to a Dhobi Ghat, leather workshops, construction sites and basketball courts in Nagpada to hunt for someone who could play Munna and zeroed in on Prateik after meeting him at the screening of "Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na".

She says the film is a tribute to Mumbai and in many ways it is about her, the kind of people she met and her quest for life in the city of dreams.

The film is said to have been made on a budget of Rs.5 crore and there were no special sets constructed to shoot the film. To give an authentic touch to what both Aamir and Kiran consider an arthouse film, "Dhobi Ghat" has been shot in bylanes of Mumbai and the city's most famous Dhobi Ghat at Mahalaxmi.

The film has also been shot in under-construction buildings, Mohammed Ali Road market, Chowpatty and Marine Drive. The dedicated husband-wife duo didn't even shy away from renting a room in a chawl at Muhammad Ali Road to shoot the film.

"Dhobi Ghat" also faced legal issues after Vinod Kumar Kanojia, head of the Hindustan Kanojia Organisation of dhobis, filed a petition that the film's title may lead to a caste division. He appealed to change the title of the film and also urged the censor board to assess the film's title in order to avoid a caste division.

However, the Delhi High Court dismissed the plea, terming it frivolous.

Last year was dull for Bollywood as a limited number of films managed to rake in the moolah at the box office. And one of them was Aamir's production venture "Peepli Live", a low-budget film with unknown names that hit the the bull's eye at the box office. Despite not featuring in any movie, Aamir remained in the news for the maximum part of 2010 because of the success of "Peepli Live".

The first big release of 2011 was "No One Killed Jessica" about high-profile murder of model Jessica Lall in 1999, starring Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan, got a good opening. It was followed by "Yamla Pagal Deewana", which managed to lure viewers to the theatres.

Now, with "Dhobi Ghat", everyone is hoping that it will continue the success trend.

"Obviously our expectations from the film are that everyone likes it and more and more people come and see it. It's a very different film and we hope it does well," Aamir told IANS.

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