Ghoomketu movie review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s creaky comedy shows signs of age
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Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Anurag Kashyap, Ila Arun, Raghubir Yadav, Swanand Kirkire
Director: Pushpendra Nath Mishra
“Writing comedy is a serious business,” Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s whimsically named hero Ghoomketu tells us in the eponymous film. “Audience should laugh too.”
The trouble with Ghoomketu is it never uses its own sage advice. It spells out the obvious, and then goes and underlines it. After a while, it just feels like you are in the middle of an exposition dump and the walls are closing in. As you drown in that needless and relentless information, you just wish that the director would have remembered that as a paying audience of Hindi films, you knew all this all along. No comedy – the delicate thing that it is – could have survived this.
Watch the trailer for Ghoomketu here:
But perhaps I get ahead of myself. Ghoomketu is essentially the story of a wannabe film writer from a small village in Uttar Pradesh who wants to write for Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan one day. Aided by his bua (Ila Arun) and unhappy with his plus-size new bride, he runs away from home. Armed with just a book on writing for cinema and a terrible hairstyle, he lands in the city of dreams. Now he could have been chewed up and spat out by Mumbai, but this is not an Anurag Kashyap film, he only has a cameo in it.
Instead, Ghoomketu directly meets a smarmy producer who agrees to listen to his scripts. From there on, Ghoomketu becomes a film-within-a-film as Nawazuddin’s protagonist starts working on scripts of a family drama, a horror film and a romance based on his own life experiences. This is when the film, which was muddling along in its own clueless way, starts resembling a three truck pile-up on a state highway.
A spoof relies on parody to ridicule the familiar. Ghoomketu harps on the familiar and has little to offer when it comes to comedy. In its stead, you get a hackneyed plot and tired dialogues. All the tired old tropes come out for airing – a railway platform scene in romance, a scantily clad woman in a horror film, and – the low-hanging fruit – an item number. In fact, the woman in item number gyrates so wildly, I am pretty sure she would have pulled a muscle or five. The fact that I cannot remember even one moment or smart dialogue from this entire segment demonstrates its sloppy quality.
As Ghoomketu attempts to become the next Salim-Javed, his worried father (Raghubir Yadav) and uncle (Swanand Kirkire) use their connections to set the police after him. Corrupt Inspector Badlani (Anurag Kashyap) is tasked with bringing the errant man home and his whole cameo is designed to evoke laughs. But few things work as per design in this film.
To be fair to director Pushpendra Nath Mishra (who gave us the delectable Taj Mahal 1989), few films can survive the pressures of staying in the cans for almost half a decade. Finished sometime in 2014, Ghoomketu could not get a release for the last few years. You can see it has been duct-taped and made pretty, but the cracks do show. The beautification effort involves more star cameos than you can count — Amitabh Bachchan, Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Chitrangada Singh and Nikkhil Advani (from back when he used to be Nikhil Advani appear) in the film besides Kashyap.
The film belongs to its cast who are all seen putting in the extra effort. Nawazuddin is the right fit as Ghoomketu, a man who is clearly throwing beyond his weight. It is a refreshing change to see Ila Arun and the actor is a hoot as the doting aunt. You only wish that a terrible subplot about her nuclear burps was not added to the film. The only reason it is there is because someone thought loud burps are hilariously funny.
Raghubir Yadav as the short-tempered father gives the film some of its fun moments. It is yet another winning performance by the man who played ‘pradhan pati’ with so much candour in Panchayat recently. Swanand Kirkire ably supports the duo as their younger brother.
The film’s climax is perhaps its best 10 minutes. Earlier in the film, a precocious child advises the hero that a film is as good as its climax, no one cares what is in the middle. In a rare moment when Ghoomketu decides to practise what it preached, the film’s climax is better than the rest of it. Does the end justify the middle? The answer is no but as a reviewer, you like to run with whatever silver lining you can get.