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of a dead golden city

I saw two Mumbais this weekend.One through the movie- 'Dhobi Ghaat' and another through 'City of gold'; two completely different mumbais but all the same. Completely different narratives, but still gave the same stale smell of mumbai's stifling sea of humanity. While one movie had its politic about mumbai, the other was completely personal and intimate. Both talked about classes, but while one made me glad that I am from the privileged class the other once again filled me with nostalgia.

I found 'City of Gold' to be very dark and over powering. I couldn't help but identify with the narrator's constant disgust, this sense of suffocation throughout the film. Even the scenes of happiness were quickly curtailed with the knife of cynicism laced violence. The movie laid out its politics, its helplessness, its accusations bare. The rich mill owner's disgust of the workers ("Bhikari" he keeps on barking, even before his imminent death) and his total lack of empathy is something I saw in many of my colleagues, class mates & generally the people of mumbai. (How else do you explain one my classmate's exclamation of 'wow' accompanied by a question as to where did you get this 'shot' to a friend's photograph of a baby sleeping on the footpath, when living in mumbai means to fill up one's senses with all that means poverty to the hilt. The smells, the sight, the utter debasement of human existence.. how can one possibly not notice it?) (and what does it mean to take poverty's photographs? the click is too easy and cheap.)
Though the story is of mumbai mill workers and how their right to livelihood was snatched away from them, it essentially is a story of mumbai's death itself, not just of a community but of an entire city. The death of faith and unity. The death of morality. The capitulation and fall from grace. The break up and death of life's joys.
I had to leave mumbai just like amir had to leave his place in Dhobi Ghaat - cuz of the death that haunts this place. (and I never ceases to wonder how can people go on with their lives in mumbai. Can't they see? how strong can denial be?)

Dhobi Ghaat was something else. For one, so many of its shot are so eerily similar to what I shot for a personal video of mine. Besides, the places its shot in filled me with nostalgia. sitting with non-mumbaiites in the theatre, i would jump and point out to them the places i had been at, my haunts, the place where I stayed for a while. :) Complete nostalgia.
But the movie is much more than just its locale. Its not a story per se (as emphatically complained by my neighbor in the cinema hall), but an intimately voyeuristic peek in lives of 4 mumbaikars.(well 3 really, and a tourist with a bad accent) I loved the movie for personal reasons. and it can be loved for personal reasons alone. Everything about the movie; its stillness, its actions, the painting, the brilliant brilliant background score, the happenings.. all were so intimately real. The movie was a kind of a hug to me from my past.

P.S. - Monica Dogra (Shaair) is so totally alive and supremely lovely and so so hot when she performs on stage (she is part of the group Shaair and Func, one of my favourite bands). But in the movie she didn't seem hot at all. neither lively. just a tourist with a bad accent. though she did act well. damn, miss her gigs.


Midhun Krishna said…
Hi dude,
read this post. I did not see both the movies, but i could sense the feeling you had while watching them. will get back to you once i see them.

Neha said…
Despite being non-mumbaiite, I was totally able to relate to your nostalgia Jinxie. You see, we all are travelling in same boat. :)

Yaa, it wasn't a story as such, but yes nice and very true depiction of how fucked up our lives are!
Ajinkya said…
damn right they are. :P
Neha said…
Despite being non-mumbaiite, I was totally able to relate to your nostalgia Jinxie. You see, we all are travelling in same boat. :)

Yaa, it wasn't a story as such, but yes nice and very true depiction of how fucked up our lives are!

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