The Hindi film Ghoomer is directed by R Balki and stars Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, Angad Bedi, Shabana Azmi
Where can you watch Ghoomer in the UAE?
- Inspirational message
- Abhishek, Saiyami ace their roles
- Predictable story arc
- Patented characterisation
The big charm of sports is unscripted drama. How a sporting contest will pan out is tough to predict. But sports does not lend itself to surprising and twisty cinema plots. To be sure, there have been quite a few enterprising and arousing sports-themed cinemas — both in India and in Hollywood. In fact, there have been many, and the story’s overall arc is now almost patented.
- Top 5 Indian movies and shows to watch this week
- Best new Hindi movies and TV shows to watch
- New Indian movies and TV shows on Netflix
Sports-based cinema is mainly about the triumph of the underdog — either an individual or a team. The saviour is usually a coach who is grumpy and uninterested at the start. But once some kind of sync is established between the coach and the usually reluctant and unbelieving individual/team, the rest is usually history — a climax where triumph beats all odds.
It is impossible to play around with this format. Take, for instance, one of the most popular and enjoyable sports films in the last 20-odd years, Chak De. It fits into this pattern. Even Lagan, which is more than a sports film, the more prominent theme is similar.
In that sense, when one walked into R Balki’s Ghoomer, one was not expecting anything out of the ordinary. And the film serves precisely what you had in mind: good and bad. There is no new drama. But what Balki has tried to fill his cinema with is to strike a blow for the handicapped. The larger message is that physical shortcomings need not be a hindrance to the truly motivated sportsperson. That comes out loud and clear. And it shows the film’s heart is in the right position.
Balki has taken inspiration from the real-life story of the famed Hungarian shooter Karoly Takacs, who lost his right arm in a grenade blast during military training. But not one to be fazed by this, the doughty Kovacs practised with his one arm and made himself worthy of winning the gold medal in the 25 meter rapid-fire pistol event at the 1948 London Olympics. The man was not done with that alone. He repeated his remarkable feat at the 1952 Helsinki Games.
Balki has placed his one-armed sportsperson in the physically more demanding sport of cricket. Here, his protagonist is the up-and-coming prodigious batting talent Anina Dixit (Saiyami Kher). She lost her right hand in an accident after she was named to play for India. Her life comes crashing down. Her family, including her grandma (Shabana Azmi), father (Shivendra Singh Dungarpur) and boyfriend (Angad Bedi), are all distraught.
And here is where the alcoholic ex-cricketer Padam Paddy Singh Sodhi (Abhishek Bachchan) comes in. He is a cynic whose international career had been cut short by an injury to his rib cage. After many fits and starts, the coach and student arrive at their big discovery — Ghoomer. It is essentially a one-armed delivery with a twisty action, triggering an enormous pace that catches the batters unawares. And in the fullness of time, she gets back her sporting mojo and gets to play at the highest level.
As we said, there is not much newness to the script or the way it unfolds. But Abhishek Bachchan as the caustic and cantankerous coach is compelling and convincing. A character that is not easy to love. But Abhishek brings the right amount of roughness for us to believe. Saiyami Kher as the hapless cricketer, is doughty. It is an inspirational role, and she fills it with the right energy.
Although the sporting part is more than predictable, Ghoomer works more as a human drama. The director Balki has nothing much to do as the script’s arc is limited.
What are the other critics saying about Ghoomer?
Anupama Chopra from Film Companion says the film lacks the precision required for a sports drama, and the done-to-death nature of the story doesn’t help either. She praises the performances of the lead cast but says that while there are some moments of brilliance, the film is largely average overall.
The Quint is positive about the movie, praising the second half of the movie, the lead cast’s performance and the accuracy and spirit of the cricket matches shown. However, the reviewer does note that the film could have been much tighter if some scenes were left on the editing table or if the script had been better written in those parts.