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‘Ghani’ movie review: A muddle of a narrative

Actor Varun Tej in the Telugu film 'Ghani'

Actor Varun Tej in the Telugu film 'Ghani' | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Ideally, a film should not be viewed and discussed as the first and second halves. The narrative needs to work as a whole. In the case of the Telugu film Ghani, the attention to screenplay is so starkly different in the two halves that it becomes tough to view the film as one whole entity. The film takes off post intermission, unravelling power play and politics in a sport that in turn sets the stage for emotional drama. 

It is a story of identity, revenge and good over evil, mounted on a grand scale to present actor Varun Tej in a new avatar. The sports portions hold attention even though the narrative does not break new ground. But the first half is so lamely written that it makes the later portions appear like a breath of fresh air.

Events that happen in 2004, involving boxers Vijayendra Sinha (Suniel Shetty) and Vikramaditya (Upendra) become the trigger for the story. Vikramaditya is disgraced and his family bears the brunt. The mother (Nadiya as Madhuri) makes her young son Ghani (child artiste Ronit Kamra from Jersey) promise that he will never take to boxing. It does not take much to predict that Ghani will grow up to be a boxer (Varun Tej).

The first hour rolls about aimlessly. Ghani is introduced through a sporting stunt sequence to establish that he cannot stay away from boxing. He is driven by the motive to make his mother’s heart swell with pride and get over the past. Before he can do that, he has to lock horns with a rich brat Aadi (Naveen Chandra) who, incidentally, is also a boxer. Never mind if eventually, Aadi seems like a pale opponent compared to the other demons Ghani has to take on.

Ghani
Cast: Varun Tej, Saiee Manjrekar, Suniel Shetty, Upendra
Direction: Kiran Korrapati
Music: Thaman S

The story also weaves in laughable romance. The way a few shots are captured in the university corridor is reminiscent of Tholi Prema (2018) but this romance is not half as breezy. Maya (Saiee Manjrekar)’s character is so weakly written and some of her lines induce unintentional laughs in the theatre. Her inexperience in emoting does not help either. When she asks Ghani how he has put up with so much pain, someone in the hall remarked ‘painkiller’. The laughs that followed spliced through the boredom until that point. In these portions, Varun Tej also looked lost, as though wondering when he can return to the boxing ring.

The film gets into its groove post intermission. The crucial reveal about Ghani’s father brings two men into the picture — boxer-turned-coach Vijayendra and Eeshwar (Jagapathi Babu) who calls the shots in the Indian Boxing League. Ghani’s father’s backstory gives the story the required emotional depth. But it is tough to fathom why Madhuri never had a frank conversation with her son and shared whatever she knew about her husband. It is also hard to believe that Ghani managed to hide his boxing until the state championships, in this age of traditional and social media spotlight.

The training sessions between Ghani and Vijayender work well and address why the player needs to stay focussed and not give in to emotional outbursts on provocation. The betting racket brings in the masala. Cinematography by George C Williams sets the mood in the boxing ring along with Thaman’s rousing ‘takeover Ghani’ score. However, there is not much of a surprise as the story moves forward and you can sense how each character would behave.  Take Jagapathi Babu’s character for instance. He has done such roles so often in the past that he looks bored.

Varun Tej flaunts a chiselled physique and looks agile enough to play a sportsperson. He displays the required aggression while also managing to retain the innocence of an emerging player. Suniel Shetty, Upendra, Nadiya and Naveen Chandra do justice to the parts given to them.

Despite all the sporting action, the film gets talk heavy. At one point, when one character smirks at another for being a better talker than a sportsman, it elicits laughs..

(Ghani is currently running in theatres)


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Printable version | Apr 8, 2022 3:15:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/ghani-movie-review-a-muddle-of-a-narrative/article65302501.ece