Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dhobi Ghat from February | this blogger experiments with prose

You walk into the movie theatre wrapped in an invisible cloak of silence. A 120 rupees ticket is more than you'd expected to pay at this shabby looking cinema hall. The small yellow ticket is thin and translucent - you're immediately suspicious of whether it will get you a real seat inside the theatre.

As the movie starts, you're glad you came to watch it alone. Often, your own words and commentary are so abundant and abrasive, you barely get time to absorb and appreciate the films you watch. But not today. Today, you've come to face a film one on one.

Into the first scene, you feel the distance between yourself and the screen evaporate as Yasmin begins her story. Yasmin is easily the most captivating character in the film, presented to the audience in a collage of visual fragments she creates to send as letters to her brother. Viewing these clips from the same positions as those Yasmin shoots from, you find yourself slipping into Yasmin's shoes to feel as she feels, to live has she lives.

As the most pervasive presence in the film, Shai is in the vulnerable position to be the least likeable. You're not going to say that anything is unlikeable about her. The young woman whose name you don't know has done a great job of playing this role. But by the end of the movie, you've almost forgotten her. The actor has been getting a lot of praise for her portrayal of Shai, but you wonder why nobody has bothered to mention anything about Yasmin.

For it is Yasmin's smile, her laugh, her voice that clings to you. There is an earnestness in her tale, an innocence. It is almost as if she doesn't really belong in the film, but being part of it, she manages to infuse it with new life.

For the first time, you find it effortless to like a character played by Aamir, a reclusive voyeur who is enchanted by the elusive Yasmin available to him only through video tapes through which she consciously constructs herself. Aamir's Arun speaks barely anything through the course of the movie and it is in the lack of dialogues that his acting achieves a rawness, a freshness that is still untainted by his stardom. In the film, Aamir is invisible, and thus Arun blossoms.

It is not the decided worth or quality of this film that captivates you. Your feelings towards the film are just as ambiguous as the film itself. But by the time it ends, you are packed with emotions. Empty of the understanding of the plot, but packed with emotions.

The film is less a story, more an evocation of feeling. And as you walk out of the theatre, amidst dissatisfied viewers who feel cheated of their money at the movie that showcases no tantalizing lives, no charming characters, and tells no tangible story, you feel as though you're a segment of the film trailing on in real life long after the movie has ended - without a tantalizing life, with an incomplete sense of self, and an ambiguous, intangible story many may feel unworthy of being told.

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