A screengrab from the film
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Director Pushpendra Nath Misra’s Ghoomketu had been languishing unreleased for a few years, and has finally found a new lease of life thanks to streaming platforms. Its outdatedness, though, is apparent even in some scenes of the movie.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the titular character, a 31-year-old from Mahona in Uttar Pradesh who runs away from home to try his luck as a screenwriter in Mumbai. He has no relevant writing experience, having written wedding invitation cards and on the backs of trucks until now.

His family, knowing that he had long harboured tinsel-town dreams, goes to the police to file a missing persons complaint and urges them to assign the case to a Mumbai cop. The case is handed over to Inspector Badlani (Anurag Kashyap), a bumbling fool who hasn’t solved a case in 15 years of service and doesn’t even think to investigate the person who has just rented the room next to his own flat – no prizes for guessing who that is.

It makes for an interesting premise, especially with a cast that is so talented – apart from Siddiqui, there’s his cranky father (Raghubir Yadav) and supportive aunt (Ila Arun), plus a host of cameos by Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Chitrangda Singh and Amitabh Bachchan.

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Stale jokes, weak script

But unfortunately, the cast is let down by stale jokes, like when Ghoomketu says he finds Mumbai difficult to adjust to because people call onion ‘kanda’ and potato ‘batata’ and refer to a half-glass of tea as cutting chai. Frankly, one fails to understand why this was ever considered a clever joke, but especially in 2020, when plenty of non-Maharashtrians, too, are well aware of these terms, and most vegetable and tea vendors in Mumbai also know perfectly well what one means when one says ‘pyaaz’, ‘aloo’ and ‘aadha glass’.

Another disappointment is the choppily edited script that drags even though the film is less than two hours long, and deeply puerile humour. Case in point, the crude, cruel fat-shaming that Ghoomketu inflicts on his wife, Janaki Devi (Ragini Khanna). One might say this is just a portrayal of reality, but the fact that he shows no remorse for it makes it sound more like an endorsement of this joke.

The movie does have some fun moments, especially the ones featuring Ila Arun as the aunt who knows where her nephew has gone, but keeps his secret, and all the fantasy sequences depicting Ghoomketu’s failed attempts at scriptwriting, which is where all the cameos come in. Sauteli Ma, Khooni Bathroom and other ridiculously hammy movie titles and scripts do liven up the proceedings, as do some of the animation sequences, but it seems as though they have been brought in to cover up for the weak script. And the narrative device of Ghoomketu breaking the fourth wall to chat with the audience gets tiresome after a point, when it becomes clear he has nothing much to say.

Ghoomketu begins well and ends well, but disappoints in the middle.

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