What's hot: Mumbai is a city like no other. Dhobi Ghat is an unflinching look at the tangled lives of the inhabitants of the city, who belong to different financial and cultural ladders. It pulls you in and makes you examine people from all walks of life. A film on the city could easily have become a clich © as would have the characters but first-time director Kiran Rao does her best to blindside your expectations, spin your emotions around and overturn your preconceptions in this penetrating, at times uncomfortably candid, portrait of present-day relations. This compelling urban drama tracks the delicate intersections of characters' intertwined lives in surprising and illuminating ways. This isn't a feel-good film that leaves you feeling uplifted or wiser. It doesn't offer any answers. Who is the silent old lady? Did Yasmin ultimately take the drastic step? Does Shai meet Arun in the end? You simply absorb the visuals, the characters and their inner struggles in this free-floating narrative. There are no heroes or villains in this film -- just human beings with their dreams, hopes and frailties. That's the best part about the film. It doesn't attempt to judge or raise any questions. It simply projects the many faces of the city and its residents. When all is said and done, you may relate to and see yourself not in each individual character, but with the problems they face and deal with on a daily basis. The ensemble cast is simply amazing. Aamir Khan pours himself into the character. Prateik is impressive. Kriti makes a striking debut. Monica deserves special mention for her awesomeness. Cinematography by Tushar Kanti Ray and the background by Gustavo Santaolalla further add to the magic.
What's not: What will work against the film is that it is made for a niche audience. It begins rather slowly and takes time to establish the characters. Arun's mourning of Yasmin seems over-the-top. Viewers will go in expecting a certain kind of a film -- what with Aamir Khan in it -- and might feel they haven't got their money's worth.