I had a lot of fights with Aamir: Kiran Rao

Updated: Jul 31, 2012, 11:46 AM IST

Ananya Bhattacharya

Delhi: The ongoing OSIAN’s Cinefan Film Festival here played host to an interactive session with director Kiran Rao, Prateik Babbar and the cast and crew of ‘Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)’. The engaging and intriguing session lasted roughly for an hour and a half, and had the brains behind ‘Dhobi Ghat’ dissect their piece of art thoroughly. An Aamir Khan Productions’ project, ‘Dhobi Ghat’ won a lot of appreciation and acclaim from critics and the people.

Speaking about casting the producer and her husband Aamir Khan in the film, Kiran Rao says, “In the beginning, we used to have a lot of fights. I was conscious of the fact that I wanted to protect my script. Filming Aamir was a cakewalk. Once I learnt to let things be, things were much easier. Aamir was light and free, and I began to enjoy the shades that an actor could give to a character – thanks to his sheer mastery of the art.”

The discussion encompassed several facets of the film, from the way it was an ode to the immigrant and a tribute to Bombay to the politics that went behind calling the city Bambai in the film and naming it ‘Mumbai Diaries’, and led the ones present into an entire unexplored area. Bombay, in many ways, is a construct. It is a living, feeling being, and alive in the way one experiences it, says Kiran. In her film, Kiran’s work has been to capture the very essence of the cosmopolitan nature of the city from the perspectives of the various people who live in it.

‘Dhobi Ghat’, according to Rao, also is a film that travels across classes, across ethnicities. From the dhobi Munna (played by Prateik Babbar) to Shai (played by Monica Dogra) who belongs to the rich old Parsi family, and the metaphor of the dhobighat as a place where all classes merge together, slapped on the same stone, dried on the same line, the film deals with the perspective of its characters.

Speaking about the way he got under the skin of the character Munna, Prateik Babbar said that he had to spend days with dhobis at the Mahalaxmi Ghat in Mumbai. “I spoke to the people who work at my home, I interacted with the dhobi who lauders our clothes and spent several days at the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat in order to make sure that I could permeate into the character.”

Kriti Melhotra, who plays the role of Yasmin Noor in the film, says that the role of a young, shy Muslim bride came quite easily to her. “Kiran (Rao) had said to me that my performance should not look like a performance. Most of the time, I was alone in the room, speaking into the camera. That made it easier for me to understand Yasmin and essay the role. I had never acted before, and playing Yasmin did not make me think, even for once, that I was delivering a performance.”

The cast and crew of ‘Dhobi Ghat’ went on to elucidate the numerous difficulties that they had to face during the filming of the movie. The film was screened for the public on 30th July 2012 under the section ‘NewStream Cinema’. ‘Dhobi Ghat’ was released in the year 2011.