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Ghoomer Review: Winner With A Lot Of Heart

Last updated on: August 18, 2023 18:32 IST
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Ghoomer is an efficient crowd-pleaser that puts a lump in the throat, a tear in the eyes, and a smile on the face, all at the same time, applauds Mayur Sanap.

The down-and-out player, the crusty trainer, and the impossible dream that tests the perseverance and grit of the protagonist.

We are all too familiar with this story as depicted in sports dramas before.

Sometimes heart-warming, sometimes tear-jerking, but always uplifting -- the emotional appeal of these films make for engaging viewing.


R Balki's Ghoomer is shaped by the same sports film mould, but it manages to become this rousing and inspirational tale despite its inherent predictability.

Thanks to its progressive storytelling and unique take on relationships, it goes beyond the standard sports drama template to give us a moving tale of relationships that are strengthened by sports.

The film opens with the cinematic introduction of women cricketers as they walk into the field with the spectators loudly cheering for them.

We see the back shot of our protagonist Anina (Saiyami Kher). The film cuts to a flashback to when Anina was a rising female cricketer who harbours a dream of playing for the Indian cricket team. She is mentored by her cricket-fanatic Dadi (Shabana Azmi) and supported by the rest of her family.

Her dreams come crashing down when she loses her arm in a freak accident.

Just when she is about to lose all hope in life, she finds her mentor in an alcoholic former cricketer Padam Singh Sodhi aka Paddy (Abhishek Bachchan) who instills new faith in her.

As director, Balki has a penchant for going after a heavy-duty subject and presenting it in a witty manner.

In Ghoomer, the story is rather simplistic but it works due to inventiveness in writing.

It's almost like the writers are aware of how common the premise is, so they fuel the narrative with a few unique touches which include the rousing training montage, Paddy's unconventional bowling techniques, and Anina's family dynamics that break societal norms and stereotypes.

The screenplay, which Balki co-wrote with Rahul Sengupta and Rishi Virmani, is layered with a nudge on gender roles and sexist prejudices, but the film isn't aggressive about it.

The film's undercurrent theme is life's magic being at odds with logic, but thankfully, there's enough heart in the film that meets the logic, and Balki achieves a satisfying balance between inspirational and melodramatic.

It is in the third act where the film falters when it focuses on Anina's individual glory by sidestepping the team spirit of the game.

This abrupt tonal shift disrupts the film's rooted voice that was earlier set.

In a complex portrait of a man who is self-indulgent, belligerent and emotionally bruised, Abhishek Bachchan delivers an effective performance.

In one particular scene, Paddy talks about his life's despair with supreme sadness and Abhishek is impressive in this vulnerable moment.

His washed-out look with grey hair and puffy eyes indicates that the actor has no qualms about showing the frailty of his character.

Perfectly cast, Saiyami gives an assured performance that anchors the film's emotional core.

Just like her palindromic name, she starts over from where she left off with much grit.

She nails the physical look of an athlete and her face is a fierce combination of rage and vulnerability.

Watch her in a scene when she first learns about her disability. You can feel her ache and hurt.

Shabana Azmi is lovely as the level-headed and commanding grandmother who is a pillar of strength for Anina.

'If Tiger Pataudi can become a captain with one eye, why can't she play with one hand?' she bolsters up her grandchild.

In another instance, when the entire house is rejoicing in Anina's team selection, her granny quickly gets busy with understanding the intricacies of the game so that she could help Anina better.

She only steps into the kitchen to make a green juice for her, while the men of the house prepare food for the entire family. Azmi's character highlights the film's progressive stand and the actress seizes your attention every time she's on screen.

It's lovely to see how Balki plays around with elderly women characters in his films. Be it Swaroop Sampath's urban, sassy mother in Ki & Ka or Neena Gupta's progressive granny in Lust Stories 2, these women have agency of their own.

Amitabh Bachchan as a wisecracking commentator is delightful in his customary Balki film appearance.

Angad Bedi is endearing as Anina's childhood sweetheart, but that's pretty much all about his character.

Mention also has to be made of Ivanka Das, the transgender actor who plays Rasika, the housemaid and adopted sister at Paddy's house -- she's spot-on with her comic timing and dominates some heartfelt moments in the film.

Despite its formulaic path, Ghoomer works because it turns the usual clichés into something authentic.

The result is this very efficient crowd-pleaser that puts a lump in the throat, a tear in the eyes, and a smile on the face, all at the same time.

Ghoomer Review Rediff Rating:

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