Mumbai Diaries

Offshore viewing likely strongest in fests and ancillary.

With: Aamir Khan, Prateik, Monika Dogra, Kriti Malhotra. (English, Hindi, Marathi dialogue)

Repping India’s new-style indie, debuting writer-helmer Kiran Rao’s “Mumbai Diaries” is a refreshingly modest affair despite having been produced by Rao’s husband, Aamir Khan, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, here in a featured role. This tale of four Mumbai dwellers at a crossroads in their lives owes more to Taiwanese or French auteur cinema than to Satyajit Ray. Since King Khan (be it Aamir, Salman or Shah Rukh) rules at the Indian box office, the wistful drama is assured of multiplex exposure at home, with offshore viewing likely strongest in fests and ancillary.

In Mumbai on sabbatical, lively American investment banker Shai (musician Monica Dogra) enjoys a one-night stand with loner artist Arun (an understated Khan) who makes it clear he’s not looking for a relationship. Needing a guide to the world of local workers that she is supposed to be researching, Shai befriends her family’s charismatic dhobi (laundry boy) Munna (the mono-monikered Prateik), who also works for Arun. Meanwhile, Arun moves to another apartment where he becomes engrossed in the video diaries left by previous tenant Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra).

Already an experienced producer (“Peepli Live”), Rao makes a smooth segue into writing and directing, sensitively tapping into the diverse energies of India’s most populous city and subtly capturing nuances of caste and class. Traversing swank galleries and luxury apartments as well as criminal-infested slums, she etches a city that, like its characters, is in transition.

Perhaps most notable for the new talent in front of and behind the camera, the film marks the debut of the two main actresses who acquit themselves nicely, as well the first leading role for the immensely appealing Prateik who seems destined to be a big star.

Working in Super 16 and mini-DV, cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray clearly differentiates the different Mumbais inhabited by Shai, Arun and Munna, and the city as seen through Yasmin’s eyes. Likewise, production designer Manisha Khandelwal makes palpable the many diverse interiors.

Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla provides a discreet, somewhat generic score. On the debit side, the editing could be tighter.

The striking black-and-white still photos supposedly shot by Shai comes from award-winning photographer Jyotika Jain.

Popular on Variety

Mumbai Diaries


Production: An Aamir Khan Prods. production in association with Cinema 73. (International sales: UTV Motion Pictures, Mumbai.) Produced by Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao. Executive producer, B. Shrinivas Rao. Directed, written by Kiran Rao.

Crew: Camera (color, Super 16, mini-DV-to-35mm), Tushar Kanti Ray; editor, Nishant Radhakrishnan; music, Gustavo Santaolalla; production designer, Manisha Khandelwal; costume designers, Isha Ahluwalia, Darshan Jalan; sound (Dolby Digital), Anup Dev. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 11, 2010. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Aamir Khan, Prateik, Monika Dogra, Kriti Malhotra. (English, Hindi, Marathi dialogue)

More Film

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Boosting Efforts in Project Development Amid Agency Standoff

    The Writers Guild of America, locked in a six-month standoff with major talent agencies, has announced that it’s boosting efforts at gathering TV, streaming and film project development data to help members find new employment opportunities. The WGA made the disclosure in a message to members on Monday. The guild directed its 15,000 members to fire [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    AFI Fest Adds 'The Two Popes,' 'Aeronauts,' Alan Pakula Tribute

    The American Film Institute has added “The Two Popes” and “The Aeronauts” as galas during the upcoming AFI Fest along with a tribute to the late director Alan Pakula. AFI had previously announced that the romantic drama “Queen & Slim” would launch the 33rd annual festival on Nov. 14 and close with the world premiere [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Recalls Husband Blake Edwards' Battle With Depression

    The line to see Julie Andrews at the 92nd Street Y wrapped around the square of a sprawling New York City block. Seventy years since the start of her career, 60 since she asked “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” as Lerner and Loewe’s first Eliza and 50 since she sang “The Sound of Music” before the [...]

  • Bloodshot (Vin Diesel) in Columbia Pictures'

    Vin Diesel Comes Back to Life in 'Bloodshot' Trailer

    Vin Diesel is coming back again and again in Sony Pictures’ first trailer for “Bloodshot.” In the forthcoming superhero adventure, Diesel portrays Ray Garrison a.k.a. Bloodshot, a soldier who gets rebuilt by a corporation following his death. The clip, released Monday and scored to Johnny Cash’s rendition of the ballad “Memories are Made of This,” [...]

  • Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders'

    Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders' Director Tim Mielants on 'Wise Blood'

    Bouli Lanners, the Belgian actor-director of “The Giants” and “Eldorado,” is teaming with “Peaky Blinders” helmer Tim Mielants to direct “Wise Blood,” an English-language film that will star “Game of Thrones” actor Michelle Fairley and Julian Glover. “Wise Blood” is a Belgian-Scottish-French co-production between Versus Production, Barry Crerar, and Playtime, which will handle international sales [...]

  • Bombshell Charlize Theron Megyn Kelly

    'Bombshell': Why Charlize Theron Was Terrified of Playing Megyn Kelly

    Charlize Theron is getting some of the best buzz of her career for channeling Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” but the Oscar-winning actress admits she almost turned down the role. “I was shit scared,” Theron said during a question-and-answer session following a Manhattan screening of “Bombshell” on Sunday. Partly, she was worried about portraying someone who [...]

  • Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills to Co-Produce SAG Awards

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills Productions have joined the SAG Awards producing team. The guild announced this morning that Kathy Connell will once again serve as the show’s producer along with Hayes and Milliner in partnership with Avalon Harbor. “Attending the SAG Awards has always been a pleasure and a privilege for me,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content