After Cheeni Kum, Paa & Shamitabh, Ghoomer is R Balki’s fourth venture with the Bachchan’s and it pretty much appears that the Balki-Bachchan combination proves to be a success formula. R Balki’s ‘Ghoomer’, is about Anina (Saiyami Kher), a batter inching towards a place in the National side; where Abhishek Bachchan (as Padam Singh Sodhi aka Paddy) takes centre stage in a role that defies conventions and expectations. The two are ably supported by Shabana Azmi (as Anina’s Dadi) and Angad Bedi (as Jeet, Anina’s childhood friend and love interest).
With Ghoomer, Balki has tried to fit in quite a few inspiring examples stitched into one in the form of a single narrative. There have been sports films in the past too featuring a guru-shishya model (Irudhi Suttru/Saala Khadoos, starring R Madhavan & Ritika Singh) with a very strict guru imparting training with his own ways so the shishya achieves what the guru could not or was unable to. But Ghoomer shines thanks to its unique writing.
‘Ghoomer‘ seems to be picked up from ‘ghoomar’ or ‘ghumar’, a traditional folk dance of Rajasthan. The word ‘ghoomna’ describes the twirling movement of the dancers and is the basis of the word ghoomar.
The ‘Ghoomer’ story
Ghoomer is about Anina, a promising batter who after a lot of hard work is finally selected for the National team. However, Paddy, who is an ex-test cricket player (bowler) ridicules Anina of not being the right choice for the team. This hurts Anina who leaves the team dinner with Jeet but meets with an accident, which results in her losing her right arm! Anina’s life is shattered and contemplates ending her life. That is when Paddy again steps into her (house) life and tells her that she can still play the next series against England but not as a batsman but a left-arm-spin bowler.
The happy-sad first half gets converted into a challenging second half that mostly features Paddy’s vague/ruthless ways of training Anina to excel as a bowler. Intermittently asking what she feels about her bowling, had she been facing her as a batter. Well, this guru-shishya drama plays out in the complete second half with the climax being a cricket match! With the finale made as critical as, you know that, I’m sure.
The writing of Ghoomer needs a special mention; the dialogues are written with a very different flavour and often with a pun or metaphor. Sample a couple of them that I could note, “Left hand needs to earn the ‘right’ to bowl”, also “Dekhne walon ke liye sports sirf khel hai, khelne walon ke liye sacrifice” and there are few more that one might notice if ‘enjoying’ with equal ‘seriousness’.
Playing a coach, Abhishek’s versatility shines. Despite his character’s persona, Abhishek infuses the narrative with renewed energy, aiding Saiyami’s character development from a promising batter to an innovative left-arm-spinner. Abhishek Bachchan’s character is one that allows his performance to talk through his eyes. A gifted bowler, now haunted by his own past. Paddy is also grappling with a sense of being meaningless. He justifies his portrayal of a deeply flawed and tormented soul battling his inner demons, that also makes him a troubled drunkard. Jr. Bachchan goes on to deliver a performance that brings back memories with hints of Sr. Bachchan’s one of the most memorable roles and does complete justice to it without getting overboard.
There are moments that Abhishek Bachchan’s performance transforms into an enigmatic blend of darkness and wit. As the film moves towards the climax, Abhishek’s character takes on an unexpected transformation, seamlessly evolving into a refined coach. Every minute detail of this evolution is well written, and his on-screen persona resonates authenticity that is evident.
Saiyami can be singled out as an actress who fits to ‘T’ playing a cricketer. The initial reels where Anina is shown batting is amazing with her postures, stance, attitude, everything that of a real sportsperson. From beaming with confidence on being selected to the Indian team to feeling shattered on losing not just her hand but her dream and then again standing tall as a left-arm-spin bowler in the Indian side, Saiyami’s transformation is brilliant. Her character makes you feel the pain with every shot and angle. It is also a perfect example of how with the right grit and determination, everything is possible. ‘Ghoomer’ might prove to be a gamechanger for her career.
Shabana Azmi & Angad Bedi
Both these actors prove to be the most important support as actors and as characters too. Just recently we saw Shabana Azmi (in RARKPK) play someone who finds her love after decades to playing Anina’s dadi who is a cricket buff/enthusiast and an expert who keeps track and pushes Anina in her game. Ditto with Angad Bedi who has a small role but manages to play the part wholeheartedly. He becomes an able support to Saiyami’s character.
Overall Point of View
This is not a first of its kind cinema, we have enjoyed many of the underdog stories and cherished an equal number of them. Having said so, the narrative, the situations and the scenes stitched together in Ghoomer are applause worthy. Thankfully the makers have kept the story to the point without distracting with unnecessary romance, song & dance sequences. The story remains undiluted with a hint of humour thrown in with Jr. B.
The last and the most important being the climax with Amitabh Bachchan stepping in as a commentator, who emotes, reads poems, and excites the audience, all at the same time in those few minutes during the climax. R Balki’s ‘Ghoomer’ has a repeat value for all those who like cinema with some good performances and meaningful dialogues.
‘Ghoomer’ marks a milestone in Saiyami Kher and Abhishek Bachchan’s career, showcasing their remarkable journey to brilliance. It isn’t just a film; it’s a story that captures the moment, a cinematic experience into the world of cricket. It’s an expedition into the uncharted territories of human emotions, with Saiyami Kher proving to be the icing on the cake.
Director: R Balki
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, Shabana Azmi, Angad Bedi and Amitabh Bachchan
Duration: 2 hours 14 minutes