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Bollywood Movie Reviews

Ghoomer,Balki’s Film Knocks The Ball Out Of The Field




Rating: ****

Ghoomer  is  a very odd title for a film about a  one-handed female bowler who learns the hard way to beat the odds.  Like  all of  R, Balki’s unconventional yet  mainstream films , this gem of a film moves at its own volition.

Outwardly  Ghoomer looks like  yet another  rise-and-shine sports drama  about  a karma- traumatized cricketer and a burnt-out cricket coach who lives with his trans-gender  adopted sister  in a cottage in the wilderness . The location is a significant detail . It is here, far away from the deafening crowd  that the  emotionally gutted  Anina(her name can be spelt forward and  backward: a significant detail considering how determinedly she moves forward  after life flings her  backward) regains her mojo.

Watching Abhishek’s gruff act as the  alcoholic former  cricketer on an emotional slow-burn brings the actor closer  to his darkest emotions  than he has ever been before. Abhishek’s  Padam Singh Sodhi, a.k.a  Paddy is  a nasty  unlikeable  man . It seems when life served him  lemons  he decided  to replace lime juice with whiskey.

Bachchan’s screen time with the revelatory Saiyami Kher is precious,  minute by minute he unravels Anina’s  selfpity and  digs deep into her  innermost  recesses to  excavate  a  core of selfpreserving  strength that we all have. We  just don’t know how  to  get there.

Not that Paddy is  a guardian angel or anything. He  has his own reasons for taking over Anina’s life, pushing  her boundaries  until there are  none left.

As Anina’s shrewd cricket aficionado grandmother (Shabana  Azmi , in a brief but  endearing  performance)  wonders, why  would anyone go out on a limb without any ulterior  motive for  a girl who has lost her  limb? Unless he is looking for  redemption or perhaps, release from his own  guilty  past?

Balki and his writers(Rahul Sengupta, Rishi Virmani) are in no mood to exonerate  the troubled coach. Abhishek  Bachchan plays the badly behaved coach well.When Anina and her devoted  boyfriend  greet him for Diwali he misbehaves  with the boy friend ; when she’s injured and the  boyfriend wants to meet her Paddy asks the  boyfriend, ‘Are you ice? Then you are not needed’. This could well be Abhishek’s career’s best performance.

As  for Saiyami,  I can’t imagine  anyone else embracing Anina’s  inspiring  battle to be  a one-handed bowler, with such  a surge of sincerity. Unusual  casting has always been one of the collateral  pleasures  of  a Balki  creation. Here  we have  Ivanka Das as  Abhishek’s transgender  sister who pronounces  ‘f’ as  a  ‘p’(what the puck!)  , she  gives her  adopted  brother  tit for tat. And then we have   cricket connoisseur Shivendra  Singh  Dungarpur as  Anina’s  father ,both bringing a freshness and fertility to the  proceedings.

Angad Bedi who plays Anina’s bullied  boyfriend finds his  legendary father Bisan Singh Bedi in  the film in not so unexpected  ways.And  of course Amitabh  Bachchan as a humorous cricket commentator: what would Balki’s  cinema  be without Mr Bachchan?

Ghoomer is  a remarkably wry and  humbug-free take on redeeming one’s  soul after  fate deals  a low blow. Incredibly liberated from over-sentimentality its  last thirty  minutes  on  the cricket field are  just delightful.

Or as Paddy would say, magic. Sheer magic.


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