Director: R. Balki
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Saiyami Kher, Angad Bedi, Amitabh Bachchan, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Ivanka Das
Rating: 3.5 Moons
Remember Amitabh Bachchan's outstanding performance as an old and wasted drunkard in the same R. Balki’s Shamitabh of 2015? Well, his son Abhishek Bachchan aces that in Balki’s sports-drama Ghoomer that will release tomorrow. He plays cynical and bitter ex-Test cricketer (of one-match-for India fame) Paddy who hits the bottle after his cricketing career came to an accidental end and doesn’t give up the drink till the last frame of the 2 hours 40 mins film. During which, while imparting critical life lessons with skewered alcoholic philosophy, he trains rising Team India’s star woman batsperson’s Anina with ‘Rocky’ like grittiness to overcome the loss of her right arm and take up bowling with her left to still make the team and play a winning role in a thumping, nail-biting ODI against England… the commentary of which is wittily and comically given by Amitabh Bachchan himself.
That’s what Ghoomer is all about. And it’s the performances of the cast (take a bow, Shruti Mahajan) and the crazy training sequences followed by one hell of a cricket match in front of a stadium packed with cheering Indian spectators that make the film a delightful and inspiring watch. Paddy says, “Life logic ka khel nahin hai, yeh life magic ka khel hai”, and this dialogue sets the tone and pace for this emotional drama in which two cricketers find themselves and combine hope, faith and determination to overcome life tragedies of their own. Anina (Saiyami) finds her promising cricket career coming to a crushing halt after she meets with an accident and loses her batting arm. But she is doggedly supported by a funnily doting grandmother (Shabana Azmi, brilliant), superstitious father (Shivendra Singh Dungarpur) and boyfriend (Angad Bedi). Paddy steps drunkenly up to motivate the young cricketer to take up bowling and revive her dream of being a part of the Indian national women’s cricket team.
Ghoomer is inspired by the story of Károly Takács, the Hungarian right-hand shooter who won two Olympic gold medals with his left hand after his other hand was seriously injured. Writers Balki, Rahul Sengupta and Rishi Virmani bring the human quality of empathy to life in this bold tale of human vulnerability and resilience. The dialogues are what take the narrative and characters forward. Amit Trivedi’s background score is stirring. And DoP Vishal Sinha’s camerawork is first class and nicely compliments production designer Sandeep Sharad Ravade’s work.
Everybody delivers in Ghoomer. Abhishek Bachchan as Paddy is an absolute delight and Bollywood, if it doesn’t get its act together, may lose this outstanding actor to OTT. Saiyami Kher is masterful and yet she is one of our most underrated actresses who unfortunately missed out on all the sports dramas rather uninspiringly made earlier. Her stance, physique and cricketing shots would have made Sachin Tendulkar (her role model) proud. Shabana Azmi is powerful in a role brimming with cricket trivia and wisdom that ought to have exploited her experience and talent more fully. Angad Bedi is likable as the dependable friend who stands by. Shivendra Singh Dungarpur is endearing. Ivanka Das is brilliant as Paddy’s transwoman house help Rasika. Yes, a whole lot of cinematic liberties have been taken, and the story is predictable and meant to please the crowds, but at the end of the day you want to be entertained – and that’s what Ghoomer does in spades.