Kolkata girl Kiran Rao, who moved here after finishing her masters in mass communication from Delhi's Jamia and found both love and a career, says her directorial debut Dhobi Ghat is her personal tribute to the city of dreams.
"Actually, I wanted to make something on Mumbai. It's about the city and how it makes its way into people's lives. It's a personal tribute to my city," Kiran, whose husband is actor Aamir Khan, told IANS in an interview.
"It's a story of Mumbai that might have remained untold to you. It's as real and authentic as I could make it. Films on Mumbai have always dealt with any one aspect of it at a time. I have tried to show all the facets of the city," she added.
Asked why she preferred to debut with such a World Cinema kind of script, she said: "When I started to write the film, I didn't think of the genre or what type of film it will be. I had an idea of story of four people from very different classes and worlds.
"I didn't plan to write particularly this story. The idea in due course developed into this film. But the city of Mumbai has always been the constant inspiration behind this film."
Set in Mumbai, one of the biggest melting pots of the country, where people from every part of India come to try their luck, Dhobi Ghat tries to portray the city in its true colours through four people who come from very different backgrounds. When their worlds intersect, this leaves them forever altered.
Monica Dogra (Shai) plays an Indian-American banker who is in the city for a photographic expedition, Prateek Babbar (Munna) is a washerboy and Kriti Malhotra essays Yasmin, while Aamir Khan, who is also producing the film, will be seen as a seclusive modern art painter.
The first time director strictly didn't want Aamir to act in the film, but she couldn't think of any one else once he auditioned for the role.
"I wanted all my characters to be non-actors to make the film more authentic. I was planning not to cast Aamir because he is such a big star and I had to shoot in some of the busiest streets of Mumbai. But when he was auditioned, I couldn't think of anyone beyond him for the character," said Kiran.
Asked whom among the four characters she identifies the most with, she said: "I have shared my experience with all the characters, but if you ask me whom I identify the most, it's the character of Yasmin. She is the one who comes to Mumbai and experiences the city from a small town perspective."
Kiran is very fond of the Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla and says her husband helped her in having him on board to essay the music for Dhobi Ghat, scheduled to hit theatres Jan 21.
"Aamir asked me whose name firist came to my mind for giving the music to the film. I promptly said Gustavo. He said he would try getting him to give music in the film. He arranged Gustavo's number. We spoke to him. He said he wanted to see the film and if he liked it, he will surely associate with the film. He was shown the film. He came down to India, met Indian classical musicians and composed the music for the film," she said.
Santaolalla is a Golden Globe award winner for scoring music for Brokeback Mountain, Babel and The Motorcycle Diaries. He is also the recipient of Academy Awards in 2005 for Best Original Score in Brokeback Mountain and Babel respectively. His music has also fetched him the Grammy and BAFTA awards.
(Dibyojyoti Baksi can be contacted at email@example.com )