Ahead of release of her directorial debut ‘Dhobi Ghat’, Kiran Rao and her husband Aamir, who acts in the film, Thursday apologised to the members of the dhobi (washerman) community if they had hurt their sentiments but said the matter had been amicably resolved.
‘This last two-three days’ experience has been a learning experience for me. When I met (Amit) Khatriji, Kanoji and Dr Satishji (of the community’s associations), I realized that unknowingly we might have hurt someone, at which I felt bad. If I have unknowingly hurt anyone, I would want to approach him and apologise. I want to say to all ‘dhobi bhais’ across the country that I have full love and respect for them and I deeply apologise if I have hurt you,’ Aamir told reporters at a press conference at the Sun And Sand hotel here.
Kiran said: ‘I wrote the script with best intentions and I have respects for dhobis and all such communities that have a stigma attached to the title given to them. I will make an effort in the future to be sensitive to that. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and I ant to understand what people go through.’
Kiran and Aamir, who faced objections on the name of the film from Akhil Bharathiya Dhobi Mahasanga and Akhil Bharatiya Dhobi Samaj, met office bearers of the associations and showed them the film. It was explained to them that the film was named after a place called Dhobi Ghat, which is a tourist spot in Mumbai.
After watching the film, the association officials were convinced that nothing demeaning has been shown about dhobis and praised performance of Prateik Babbar, who played a dhobi in the film. But they still had objections to the film’s title so Aamir thought of keeping it only to ‘Mumbai Diaries’ instead. However, this was also solved.
‘They wanted me to change the title. I knew how difficult it was to change the title three days before the film’s release but I agreed to do so. But when they saw I would be in a problem, they gave up their objection and let me go with the original name,’ said Aamir.
Khatri, national secretary (youth cell) of Akhil Bharathiya Dhobi Mahasanga, said dhobi being a caste, the name of a film was ‘really hurting them whenever we saw the posters’.
‘We were of course against the name of the film but were equally inquisitive about what message does the film gives about dhobis. We didn’t know about the story. He (Aamir) agreed to show us the film before release and said he would do the necessary changes if we feel that its hurting the dhobi community in any way.’
‘Seeing the film, we realised that the film is about something absolutely different from what we had thought. The film has given respect to the profession of a dhobi so we gave up all our objections,’ said Khatri.