Ghoomketu movie review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui is kinda funny but this experiment in whimsy doesn't take flight
Nawazuddin Siddiqui tries hard, and is initially effective. Beyond a point though, the script of Ghoomketu does not have enough meat for him.
castNawazuddin Siddiqui, Ila Arun, Raghubir Yadav, Swanand Kirkire, Anurag Kashyap, Dipika Amin, Bijendra Kala, Rajendra Sethi, Ragini Khanna, Cameos: Chitrangda Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Ranveer Singh, Amitabh Bachchan
directorPushpendra Nath Misra
Though Nawazuddin Siddiqui has built his reputation largely on grim, sometimes even grisly roles, we know he has the genes for comedy. We know it from Lunchbox in which he was sweet and charming and comical in an otherwise pensive scenario. We know it from other, lesser films too in which we caught flashes of his funny bone. Ghoomketu – now streaming on Zee5 – is his attempt at an all-out comedic performance in an unconventional Bollywood project.
Produced by the now-defunct Phantom Films and Sony Pictures, Ghoomketu has been languishing without a release for some years. It is easy to see why – why the concept found backing and why the completed film could not find takers. Ghoomketu’s writer-director Pushpendra Nath Misra (creator of the Netflix series Taj Mahal 1989) obviously had a good idea to begin with. He also then wrote a neat beginning and end. The bit that comes in between though, the bit that makes up the length of a film, flounders.
Ghoomketu is named after its hero, a 31-year-old aspiring writer from small-town UP who wants a career in Bollywood. The film opens with him having run away from home, leaving behind his joint family. In Mumbai, a corrupt policeman is tasked with tracking down this runaway who is trying to convince a producer to buy his terrible scripts.
From the word go, it is evident that Ghoomketu has little talent. Such a leading man is perfect material for hilarity or for perceptive commentary on the arts or whatever a filmmaker wishes to explore through him. Bad artists can make for great cinema – after reading this review, try watching Tim Burton’s 1994 film Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp as the eponymous real-life American director reputed for making horrendous films.
In Misra’s case, having thought up an interesting character, he seems not to know what to do, which is ironic since the film displays as little imagination as its protagonist.
The opening half hour or so of Ghoomketu is entertaining. I found myself giggling at the intentional silliness of the scenarios and characters. Too soon though, it became clear that the film is aiming for a certain whimsy that it does not have the depth to achieve.
The use of graphics, animation, superstar cameos and the narrative device of getting the hero to talk directly to the camera end up feeling like window dressing in the absence of substance. After a while then, Ghoomketu becomes a long wait for a flight to take off.
Siddiqui tries hard and is initially effective. Beyond a point though, the script does not have enough meat for him.
The supporting cast is a roll call of actors who have in the past shown superb comic timing, and at places in Ghoomketu some of them do manage to elicit laughs.
Bijendra Kala and Rajendra Sethi are a hoot. Yadav is under-utilised and his Dadda is given little to do beyond scream at people. Kirkire gets to be mopey. Kashyap, making a rare acting appearance, shows some spark in his introductory scene but the writer has not bothered much with his character thereafter. Ragini Khanna who carried the Hindi TV serial Sasural Genda Phool on her shoulders and was impressive too in the Hindi film Gurgaon is wasted here.
The actor who gets decent material to work on and remains a sweetheart throughout is Ila Arun as Ghoomketu’s adoring Bua – it helps that her interactions with him are the film’s best-written scenes. In the passage in which the senior lady explains to her nephew how she plans to act her way through a particular situation with his father, Arun steals the show from right under Siddiqui’s nose. We need to see more of her in Hindi cinema.
Ghoomketu boasts of several star cameos. Chitrangda Singh looks stunning in her few moments on screen. Sonakshi Sinha, Ranveer Singh and Amitabh Bachchan’s tiny roles seem to have been written with more care than the main characters. Sinha and Singh do a fair job. Bachchan seems to have had fun playing his part – that is actually nice to see.
There is a tasteless fat joke running through Ghoomketu. I know, I know, some of you will point out that real people do make insensitive comments and a reality should not be censored on screen in a bow to political correctness. Look back though at how Sharat Katariya handled a similar theme in that Bollywood gem Dum Laga Ke Haisha. The issue is not what characters in Ghoomketu say or do, but that the film itself seems to be tickled by the thought of a plus-sized woman. In its attempt at profundity, it even appears to be using a slim woman as a metaphor for a man’s dreams coming true and for a Paulo Coelho-esque moment of treasure-finding involving an important character. Uff.
The twist in the climax is not bad at all, but it is inconsistent with what we have been told until then about Ghoomketu’s writing abilities. Lost in this film’s wafer-thin screenplay is the pleasant soundtrack by Sneha Khanwalkar and Jasleen Royal. More’s the pity.
Ghoomketu is being released directly online during India’s nationwide lockdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In these dreary times, it would have meant so much if its content had been a reason to celebrate. It’s sorta okay, but that is hardly enough from a film starring this stupendous cast.
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