Review: 'Ghoomer' turns to be a 'bayein hath ka khel' owing to Abhishek Bachchan & Saiyami Kher's stellar act

R. Balki definitely wins this match with his star performers and writing, but is the film worth a theatrical release is a question that needs to be answered. Read on to know more.

- By "Divya Shah"
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The Indian film industry is back on tracks and is possibly on the peak  surging with crowd-pulling releases and thought-provoking gems. Amidst this resurgence, R. Balki brings a sports drama, loosely inspired by a late Olympian's triumph over a career-threatening injury. Balki, renowned for his nuanced storytelling in works like 'Chup: The revenge of an artist' or 'Paa,' or 'Cheeni Kum' unveils 'Ghoomer,' a more straightforward yet dramatically layered film. In an era favoring both commercial and relatable content, will Balki's presentation resonate with the audience? Let's see. 

'Ghoomer' revovels around Aninia (Saiyami Kher), a promising batter set to soar with Team India, who sees her destiny crumble as an accident gets her right arm amputated. Amidst despair, Abhishek Bachchan (Paddy) emerges, a figure of salvation or perhaps a faded cricketer seeking redemption. Paddy breathes life into Aninia's spirit, molding her into a left-arm spinner. Balki, in his ingenious approach, daringly disrupts the narrative flow of Ghoomer, infusing fictional elements seamlessly. His technical brilliance shines as he artfully melds his unique style. Though minor imperfections exist, they pale beside his unmistakable intent. 

The cohesiveness between the fiction and the reality doesn't really waver and that's where Balki masters. Although sports dramas often falter in maintaining intrigue post-climax, strategic emotional subplots captivate viewers throughout. While the second half drags slightly, a concluding smile offsets it.

The director skillfully throws yorkers into the straightforward narrative, adding entertaining layers worth highlighting. Balki subtly integrates societal messages that include the likes of gender equality, education's significance, transgender acceptance, and superstition debunking. These elements hit precisely with intent, showcasing Balki's artistry. His weapon of choice: impactful one-liners, ranging from Gen Z slang like "Fuckall" to Abhishek's unconventional advocacy for alcohol's environmental role (P.S. you can definitely use this when you get questioned on your alcohol consumption)

Central to this tapestry is Shabana Azmi, portraying Anina's grandmother—a witty, educated woman shattering stereotypes. Her presence injects humor and vitality, often rescuing the narrative from stagnation. Balki adroitly weaves sports trivia and meta references, a delight for enthusiasts. Amidst the simplicity, Balki elevates the film through these well-crafted nuances, creating an experience that engages, enlightens, and evoke thoughts. 

First thought first, we need more of Abhishek Bachchan; the man's finesse in his craft is undeniable. Portraying Paddy, a retired, alcoholic cricketer haunted by unfulfilled ambitions, Bachchan masterfully conveys a spectrum of emotions. Angst, courage, wit, 'prostration' and vulnerability all seamlessly blend in his performance, making it look like a 'bayein hath ka khel' . A standout monologue in the film's latter half intensifies the longing for more of his screen time.

Saiyami Kher stands as a singular force, delivering an exceptional performance. Her portrayal brilliantly captures the evolution of a once-ambitious girl, shattered by tragedy yet resiliently reclaiming hope and radiance. From unwavering determination to fleeting despair, she navigates each phase with precision.

Amitabh Bachchan's brief cameo demands attention; a mere few minutes on screen, his presence elevates the experience with his enchanting aura. Angad Bedi, portraying Anina's lover Jeet, delivers a heartfelt performance, providing solid support to her character's journey. Ivanka Das, in her role as Raskika, adds a notable touch of humor and leaves a lasting impression whenever she graces the screen.

The Verdict

R. Balki definitely wins this match with his star performers and writing, but I feel that his timing yet mistimes the release. Despite its quality, the film might be underrated due to its limited theatrical draw. Had it gone for an OTT release, it could have painted a different picture.

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5) stars