Ghoomketu review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui underlines the struggle of an innocent, amateur writer

Anurag Kashyap’s quirky cop avatar is grossly underutilized. Writer, director Pushpendra Nath Misra’s promising tale has its fine moments but doesn’t quite reach its potential

Rating: 3 /5

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in and as Ghoomketu [2020]

Get down to writing that first book, first film script, and how often do we dive into the world around us for inspiration. Many a writer would tell that their first piece was derived from the environment they live in.

Now for an amateur writer whose early notes are filled with thoughts (something) like, “Jab speed breaker pe aaye teri gaadi, teri hiley aisi kaisi”, it only underlines the grave task that Ghoomketu [Nawazuddin Siddiqui] has in his bid to become a screenwriter.

He seeks help from Gudgudi editor-in-chief Ramanand Joshi [Bijendra Kala] whose sound advice to him is simple, “A writer isn’t born.  It is only after experiencing life that s/he is ready to be become one.  And much of their work is derived from these experiences.”

Ghoomketu doesn’t look far than his disjointed family.  There is his hot-headed father referred to as Dadda [Raghubir Yadav], his step mother Shakuntala [Archana Shukla], the loving aunt Santo [Ila Arun], and the celibate Guddan chacha [Swanand Kirkire],  who has his own sad love story. 

So, the man from Mohana conjures titles such as Sauteli Maa, Dadda Ke Kisse, Sci -Fi, Bloody Pool. Ghoomketu pictures his family members in the first three titles. Once he runs away to Mumbai, Ghoomketu conceives stories such as Khooni Bathroom and Dilwale Dulhania De Jayenge [inspired by his uncle’s love story].  These working titles are enough to gauge the fate of these scripts.  

After struggling hard, Ghoomketu is running out of cash and can only afford to survive for another 30 days in Mumbai.  His politician uncle has warned police in Mohana [Bihar] to find his nephew within a week. 

Without any photograph, the onus of finding Ghoomketu lies on the shoulders of a lazy, corrupt cop Badlani [Anurag Kashyap].  Badlani is given 30 days to solve the case or be transferred to a tier 3 village. You reckon there’d be a joyous hunt but that really doesn’t happen. Pin that on the laziness of Badlani.

Director Pushpendra Nath Misra’s Ghoomketu [2020] is more about underling the struggles of an amateur writer, especially those who come from humble backgrounds. While his story ideas may not be flattering, but Ghoomketu isn’t short of self-confidence.  The message is clear, ‘if you don’t try you will never know if you are good at it’.

Ghoomketu largely throws up the writer’s imagination, with the film also going back and forth.  There are certain loose ends in the screenplay. The trailer promised a different experience, but the film pans out in a different manner.  While it’s a story of a struggling writer, but Ghoomketu [2020] strikes you more as a family film.  Ghoomketu’s stories do throw up fine desi humour. The most hilarious one is the death of a man [Kirkire] who before his last breath was doing yoga. He’s placed on the pyre, with his legs facing north.  You wouldn’t blame the mourners for giggling at the funeral.

The aspiring screenwriter has also penned Dilwale Dulhania De Jayenge for Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, and that explains their little cameo. Amitabh Bachchan is no part of Ghoomketu’s stories, but the legend does have an impact on the desi man’s life.

Director Pushpendra Nath Misra places too much importance on Ghoomketu’s story ideas that doesn’t leave much scope for the present-day action in Mumbai.  Ghoomketu narrates one of his stories to Roshan [Yuvraj], the young waiter at a Mumbai café. Unimpressed by it, the boy bluntly says, “Yeh bhi koi picture hai kya? Story kuch bhi ho, lekin ending dhamaal hona chahiye” (You call this a film? Look, whatever the story, but the ending has to be explosive)

Ghoomketu [2020] has a rather dull opening.  The family introduction is chaotic and drags on a bit too long for this reviewer’s liking. Blame the hushed writing here.  The film takes a bit too long to get to the core plot.  It has fine climax, but you are left in in a limbo over the middle path.  There’s no serious hunt for Ghoomketu by Badlani, nor do we see the writer toil much in Mumbai.  Yes, he does find the odd acting work [plays an alien] in a small film, but you wished to have seen Ghoomketu sweat more.

With the body of the film covering Ghoomketu’s stories and events before he left for Mumbai, you can’t help but question, whether Misra didn’t have enough meat to back his core story which is based in Mumbai. There is a sense of disappointment, but the sincerity of Yadav, Arun and Kirkire, their desi humour builds adequate engagement.  Yadav is impeccable and hilarious in his angry bursts. Arun always revels in these earthy characters. You are left in splits when Santo prays to the almighty that top Bollywood screenwriters either be occupied with other work or run out of ideas, so that a top director can give break to her nephew.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui thrives in these rustic characters.  Siddiqui imbibes the confidence of an amateur writer, who despite people running down his silly tales, isn’t prepared to give up on them.  Siddiqui brings great passion, innocence to such characters.

Ghoomketu [2020] stands out for its well etched out characters. Anurag Kashyap is brilliant as the corrupt cop Badlani.  Imagine here is a cop so lazy that he has a smile on his face while defending his poor track record. He hasn’t solved a single case in the last 15 years of his service.  Badlani is like that that lazy employee who would smartly defend his inefficacy.  Here’s a man who requests to be recused from a case because his mother’s teravi is coming, and he says that with a smile on his face.  Badlani even has a song that shows us the family history.  He is an interesting character, but grossly underused.

The late Razzak Khan [very underrated] impresses as Sallu bhai. Ghoomketu is one of his final acts. Razzak sports a horseshoe moustache and amuses you with his brand of humour.

Ragini Khanna shows her face only towards the latter end of the film.  Janki [Khanna] and Ghoomketu [Siddiqui] tied the knot at a sarvajanik [community] wedding ceremony.  Ghoomketu had picked another lady, but a confusion results in him tying the knot with Janki.  Upset at discovering that his wife is on the heavier side, he doesn’t even look at her face. Being a cultural village bride, she has mostly kept her face under wraps.  Gone are the days when body shaming was deemed normal in Hindi films, but in 2020, even village folks from Ghoomketu can’t escape this criticism.

While it is frustrating to see a promising premise not reach its full potential, but this budding writer has enough material to write, if not a glorious, but a respectable history.

Ghoomketu [2020] is currently streaming on Zee5.

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