After a long time, watched a hindi movie that kept me glued to the couch….after a long time, a hindi movie that isn’t about songs or possession of love or a gang war or untreatable humor. Here is a movie, simply about life. It’s about how conformity drives one to autonomy and how autonomy drives one to conformity. It couldn’t have been better shot, in the streets of Mumbai, sometimes hand recorded and mostly without any added glamour. It touches life, and in turn touches the heart of the audience, mainly those that feel life more than they see or do. A mediocre girl, Yasmeen, newly married to the city, trying to connect with her brother through video tapes because she doesn’t have a camera, trying to share her new life in the big city, showing its newness and yet trying to find her yearning, beautifully expresses the emotions of a newly wed girl. You can see all that she can tell about the city is – It is! That’s it. She hasn’t shown any liking or excitement for the city she has been recording. You can see the thousand questions running on her mind. Why does the lady next door sit quiet and no one seems to care? Why doesn’t anyone seem to enjoy the rain or relate to the pain it causes to some? Why is the mother across the street not able to pour any love in her food? Why doesn’t her husband remember her birthday? Why didn’t she revolt for her right to live her way?
The dhobi boy, Munna, on the other hand, had the same kind of innocent reaction when life presented itself to him. Munna, having no expectation, or desire to hook up with a rich beautiful girl Shai, somehow situationally gets trapped in the illusion of love. And here comes, a slowly simmering weave of emotions, and he keeps getting driven towards her. There is no exaggeration or melodrama on either side, of fake emotions, or pretentions. But there is this undefined chemistry between the two, in the streets of Mumbai, on the dhobi ghaat, on the chairs in Shai’s patio, he feels for her what you would call fatal love. He doesn’t say a word, but you can see it all in his eyes and you are unable to point whose fault it is. May be no one’s. May be that’s how organic love is. It grows without you knowing you are watering it, without you setting up an alarm to find love, to fall in love. Without you having to tell yourself, “Today, I’m going to find someone to love”. It just happens. And, even in the most definitive situations, love is only limited (or exaggerated) to what is perceived by the other person as the expression of love. That’s what was happening here. Shai was honest, in what she needed from Munna. And yet, he perceived her closeness with him as the possessive love, the destructive one, the kinds that causes marriage, and marriage that causes dead souls with running hearts.
And then, there is Arun. He probably has no interest in any of the characters, well, until he indirectly gets connected to Yasmeen. The eccentric, lonely, painter – probably blaming his divorced wife for his failure as a husband, finds the tapes Yasmeen recorded. Having nothing better to do, he plays the tape, over the period of a few weeks. And what is touching is, he sheds tears when he realizes in the last tape that she gave up, to her husband’s infidelity. And that’s the moment you realize, we define love the wrong way all the time. Here is this person, crying for a girl who he never met or knew, and who is dead for who knows how long. But he could feel her, he could feel that when she died, it wasn’t just a person dying, it was all her aspirations, her desires, her dreams, her love for her brother. It was that innocent smile that died. And may be, he felt helpless at that time, for the lost life of the girl he has started to like in the last few weeks. And In some way, he fell in love with her. A soul he never met or knew, and the soul that was dead already.
Pure simple life, captured beautifully. Bollywood needs more of such magnificent work of art.