Ghoomketu, recently released on the streaming platform Zee5, was shot back in 2014. In the 5 something years it sat in its box, one of the production houses that financed the film, Phantom Films, is now defunct and Nawazuddin Siddiqui has already played a small-town simpleton in the lovely Photograph. We are already way past the trick by filmmakers getting an audience for a film by making big stars do cameos. And that’s why we (as will you) blame the pandemic for prodding Ghoomketu out of its shelved-films corner.
Ghoomketu is written and directed by Pushpendra Nath Misra, whose directing style in the wondrous Taj Mahal 1989 should not be expected in this dated and lackluster story. It fails to shine even with a fine actor like Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the lead and an equally splendid ensemble cast.
On its surface, it appears Misra began with a clear idea of who his characters will be, but as for weaving the intricacies of what they will be like, how they behave, and those little things we call plot details- he floundered and it shows. He aimed for a certain whimsy in the film, loaded it with dream sequences, but just like the recently released What Are The Odds?, Ghoomketu meanders, loses focus, while its characters come across as confused (irritating to be precise) rather than endearing.
As for Ghoomketu’s story, it follows the journey of its 31-year-old namesake, played Nawazuddin Sissiqui, an aspiring screenwriter living in a small-town UP dreaming of career in Bollywood. He runs away from his home in Mahona where he lived with his joint family, including his Dadda, a forever screaming Raghubir Yadav, and his Santo bua, played by the marvelous Ila Arun, the only one in the family who motivates him to pursue his dreams.
In Mumbai, chased by a corrupt policeman, Ghoomketu is busy convincing producers to buy his badly-written scripts and starring in sci-fi films to make ends meet. On paper, the character sketch of Ghoomketu- a man who lives for his dream even as his own people shun him and he continuously fails- appears good. And Nawazuddin playing the character should have raised it excellence to incomparable levels…but it just doesn’t happen.
Set in the rest of the story, the character haphazardly tries to find his way and it doesn’t matter that there is a cameo by Amitabh Bachchan, that Lauren Gottlieb is flaunting her moves in a forgettable item number, or there exists a painfully trite DDLJ spoof scene by Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha. And it doesn’t help that the film has a fat-shaming streak going on for the entirety of its duration.
The only actor who gets to shine in Ghoomketu’s wafer-thin screenplay is Ila Arun, who, maybe by a stroke of luck, gets some of the only well-written scenes and even the ones which are half-baked come alive thanks to her fabulous acting chops.
Just as Ghoomketu in the plot is busy trying to sell his terrible scripts which are destined to be rejected, the film itself is trying to do the same thing, rising out of its 5-year-old grave hoping that the boredom of the pandemic will be enough for people to miss out on its glaring flaws.