Ghoomer: Thematically Interesting, Cinematically Competent, Artistically Executed
DECCAN CHRONICLE | L. Ravichander
It is a paradox (or is it?) that film theatres attract Anil Sharma more than Balki. Also, Balki is not even avant-garde. He is clearly mainstream. Yes, doesn’t make great films like Anil Sharma, Balki pays the price. Also, good cinema.
Sports films, in recent times have been biographical and invariably in undiluted praise of the central character, even at the cost of truth and reality. In a tangent, Balki gives the viewer an inspired "sports-story" in contradistinction to the regular "biography". There are templates here too. Yes, a careful observation would show suffering, training, a chemistry between the coach and the student, failures and finally triumph. I guess it is more grammar or a convenience in a place less travelled. To Balki’s credit, it must be said that he ducks, often "shoulders arms" against the stereotypical. He does however has given in to some.
Ghoomer is about the human spirit, about life’s challenges on the sports field viewed from a country with a suspect space for sports – not withstanding the contemporary shift, the film. Ghoomer also pushes Lasith Malinga and Bumrah further and looks at bowling action within the rules of the game.
Thematically interesting, cinematically competent, artistically well executed, Ghoomer calls for more foot falls. Even the spill over from the other blockbusters now making ‘noise’ at the BO should help. Apart from the human spirit, it also celebrates woman empowerment without making it very dramatic. Kudos specially to Shabana for that.
Anina in a palindrome. Yeah, from a gifted right-handed batsperson to a Ghoomer bowler is a saga dictated by accident, passion and determination. Anina (Saiyami Kher) comes from an upper-class family where Grandma (Shabana Azmi) is the source of constant encouragement. Her Dad (Shivendra Singh Dungarpur), her brothers (Akshay Joshi and Piyush Raina) are all members of her fan club.
From ambition being restricted, she is noticed and selected to play for India. Fortunately, this time the protagonist is not called upon to make needless sacrifices and has the luxury of being noticed and recognized for her talent as a batsperson. Even the Chairperson of the selection committee Ruma Vakeel (Nyla Masood) is natural and not stereotypical. The one person who ridicules her is the out-of-favour one-game-cricketer Padam Singh Sodi – Paddy (Abhishek Bachchan). She is blessed to have an understanding and loving, if rich too, boyfriend in Jeet (Angad Bedi). Paddy lives the life of a recluse alcoholic with Jessi (Ivanka Das), a transgender who is natural and a part of life without anything sexual connotations to the story.
Anina is selected for the Indian team but meets with a road accident leading to amputation of her right forearm. She cannot be a bowler and a winner at that!! Multiple references to cricket a la Warner one making his debut for the country before playing for a county (yeah Balki misses). Then there is a reference to a bold Vishwanath facing the battery of fast bowlers (West Indies then) without a helmet – true about Sunny bhai too!! Talking of those recovering from ghastly accidents reference is pointedly made to Tiger Pataudi (who lost his eye) and returned to get a double hundred against the Englishmen. Factual nuances are flipped in effortlessly. Yes, there is an inexplicable gruesome manner in the recommended tutelage. Wonder if such behaviour would be accepted in other forms of training.
Saiyami Kher is adequate. Angad Bedi is effortless. Nice to see Shivendra Singh, a nephew of Raj Singh Dungarpur (former selector, Chairman, BCCI) play the dad. Interesting cameo from Ivanka Das. Shabana Azmi – two films back-to-back in a fortnight!! That in itself can be an achievement. Instead of paying the traditional mother, she has sublimated to being a grandmother. Powerful, impressive and impact making. Be it her teardrop scene at the hospital, the smug look of success or the impatience as a viewer. She mirrors every moment with grace, class, and authority.
Abhishek Bachchan is brilliant. Revisiting to cricketing parlance may be he suffered the Joshi – Shivalkar syndrome of compare. They, with Bishan, he with Pappa. Also he was a tad out of place in an era of six-packs. He has great talent. The film reiterates his brilliance.
Ghoomer: Watch it. Cricket, women cricket, empowerment, all of this without being preachy.