Mumbai Diaries

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Mumbai Diaries

Bollywood icon Aamir Khan (Lagaan) shelves his singing-and-dancing skills for this low-key romantic drama, in which the lives of three strangers intersect in the flimsiest and most formulaic of ways. In Mumbai, while on sabbatical from an American investment-banking job, Shai (Dogra) takes up photography and falls for emotionally tormented painter Arun (Khan). When he gives her the cold shoulder after a one-night stand, she befriends the uneducated Munna (Babbar), who works at the city's prominent outdoor clothes-washing pen and secretly pines for the shutterbug tourist.

It's a conventional love-triangle scenario, albeit one that first-time writer-director Kiran Rao enriches with a minimum of extravagant melodramatics and a potent sense of Mumbai's bustling atmosphere. Between Shai's attempts to understand Munna's embarrassment over his lowly social standing and Arun's infatuation with mysterious videotapes (made by an unhappy wife who previously lived in his apartment), the film layers its amorous-entanglement tale with class-conscious perspectives on cultural barriers and economic divisions. Unfortunately, Mumbai Diaries addresses these weighty concerns with such delicacy that they barely make an impact, thus calling further undue attention to the creakiness of the warhorse plot---and the blank brooding of an increasingly uncomfortable-looking superstar.

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By: Nick Schager

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