Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dhobi Ghat Review

I assume you're reading this because you have seen this movie or at least heard about it. It's not your mainstream Bollywood movie, but considered "art house". I had friends who praised this simple movie and others who claimed it was a waste of time. After watching it, I see it doesnt' provide the fantasy and escapism elements Hindi movies are supposed to bring their audience. It brings so much more reality forward, but gently.

I enjoyed this movie for it's simplistic, but complex artistic direction. There are layers of voyeurism into lives of people with the audience being the ultimate voyeur. Sometimes it's controlled by the characters, and other times by the director.

Having been to Mumbai in the recent years, there are so many different types of people who live there. Unfortunately, most of the movies lean towards one side of the scale -- the uber-wealthy fantasy folk in designer garb or the slumdogs and the poverty that chokes you.

I appreciate this filmmaker (Kiran Rao) for showing the variety: the hip art scene parties and dealings, the lonely middle class housewife who finds a friend inside a videocamera, the artist who shields himself from intimacy and can only feel from distance, the Indian-American outsider who considers all men created equal and the young man who needs to keep his belly full and eyes on the stars. I'm not even going to talk about Aamir Khan since that's all I heard, but every one of the main actors performed so well that these characters were real and recognizable.

The best thing about this movie was how normal it was. You didn't see the rich girl defy her parents to marry the guy from the wrong side of the tracks.  The artist doesn't find his muse. People die every day in Mumbai. People wake up to live another day in Mumbai. I liked the clothes people wore - just casual clothes and western wear is so popular. The dhobiwalla wearing current t-shirt and sweats makes him more familiar to the girl from the west.

After the 80's "Sex Lies and Videotape" and 90's "Real World", videocamera confessionals inside a film portray a different angle of each story. I'm a fan of the shakey video camera shots - those are real to me because who actually edits their videos in real life? I loved the blurriness of the intimacy scene because it was blurry. I liked hearing noises of India in the background. Lord knows that Mumbai is not quiet. Films usually clear the set and kick out the unwanted. I was moved in an opening scene when a little beggar girl bursts into a dance in front of the camera. My own daughter does the same thing. Children are the same.

Naturally, I was drawn to the Shai character - definitely a New York Indian American girl like many I have known (or I have been). I felt the one gap in her character development was why she left NY finance job to take a "sabbatical" in India. There should've been a reference to it later and where she gets her stalker instinct.

It's been a long time since I had seen such a quietly beautiful film. It doesn't even have a beginning and an end. It's a snapshot, like many we see in it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Forgive and Forget.. what are other options?

I've had to face a situation with someone who hurt me and a number of loved ones. After that painful period, I vowed never to see this person, and it's been fine for about 6 years or so. I never forgave this person, as I chose to forget them. This makes it much easier for all to move on with our lives. Just cut the tree branch that keeps poking you in the face.

However, a situation came up recently where this person had to be acknowledged, not because of their own merit but due to family connections. Not only did this person need to be acknowledged, but I had to interact with them on a personal level. I objected to this and was becoming emotional as anger that was buried was rising to the surface. All of my arguments were shot down - "Be the bigger person." "It's family..we have to." I was bitter and hard all the way to the front door, remembering more reasons why to distrust this person. I wanted to be as disrespectful as I could because they didn't deserve it. "Be the bigger person." Fine. If I can't forgive.. and I can't forget.. all I can do is fake it. I'll be so big and generous that they'll be shocked.

Anyone who knows me that I am horrible at being fake. My emotions fly to my face before my mind even registers it, and then I'm left to reign in the situation with my words. Therefore, I knew the "faking" part was going to be tough.

Yet we survived the situation and faking it was not needed. This person was nervous as well, but respectful of my guards that I kept.

This was one of the those situations in life one must face with the right attitude. As I mentioned earlier, this was out of family obligation because one person really wanted this to happen. And, someone else loves this person, which was the biggest push for me. I realized that love for multiple people is greater than the hurt and anger I feel for this one person. And, it was that love and desire to please those important people that made me "bigger" and the anger become smaller.

It's still not perfect revelation.I have still not forgiven this person because I don't believe there's any recognition or remorse for the wrong doing. I have not forgotten the person or the pain, which needs to shrivel into a raisin.I won't need to meet this person again in the near future, though I can see situations that may call for interaction eventually.