There are reviews and then there are reviews. But this one is not one of them. No, I don’t claim to be above the cream, just that I’m taking this as an opportunity to talk about the metaphor of life.
I saw Dhobi Ghat on Republic Day. Honestly, I didn’t intend to see it because the Indian media gave the movie 2.5 stars and called it a movie not worth the hype. My spirits fell, to be honest. I’m not the hugest Aamir Khan fan, but there is no denying that when he puts in his heart in a movie that movie is worth watching. It’s a delight in its own right. So, I had written off Dhobi Ghat without even watching it, (yes, extremely unreasonable of me) until a friend urged me to go and watch it. After a lot of hue and cry and a lot of begging involved, I took my family along to watch the movie. (No friends to go with! Such is my sad life!)
I sat through it, 95 minutes, uninterrupted. And yes, I liked the movie, a lot. I’ve read a couple of reviews that mention the lack of a concrete storyline; I really wonder what they were thinking. If that’s not a story, what is? I thought that Dhobi Ghat had various stories all embedded in one another and very neatly done so. It was like a cupboard you open and find various pieces of clothing that belonged somewhere else, and now belong in the cupboard. I think Dhobi Ghat is more than just a movie. It is, as rightly sub-titled by Kiran Rao, a diary of Mumbai – an account of this city. The love it holds, the perseverance it infuses, the luxuries it offers, the deaths it has seen, and the memoirs that it treasures. And long after we’re gone, someone will find our belongings stashed somewhere and open them to find a world in it.
Our remains will tell a story. Just like Yasmin’s belongings told her story to Arun, one day our possessions will travel down in time and talk about ourselves. Imagine, what if someone found your old diary stashed in the corners of an old cupboard? They would open it; find it worn out and dying, yet holding in it a world that existed. Those words you wrote would mean something or maybe, nothing to another person. But that would make you exist in another time long after you are gone.
Or maybe they’d find an old photo frame with you and your loved one holding hands. It would be a remainder of a love story, one with kisses and tears, and joys and fears.
Or maybe they’d find an anklet lying somewhere that someone else will wear. It’ll adorn someone’s ankle while bearing a part of you.
Or maybe, they’ll find nothing that ever belonged to you, but the streets of this city will still bear marks of your footsteps. You walked here once and no one will be able to change that. The streets will still tell stories to anyone who would be willing to listen that you lived; alas for a brief time! You will live on in the dust and grime.
You will live on in the walls that they will pull down one day.
And also, in the sea that they will never be able to replace.
Does that sound stupid? Fascinating? Indifferent? Real? Or just a plain impossibility?
We may live by ourselves, but we live through each other. In memory, in belongings, in love and in time.