Ghani review: Varun Tej’s boxing film lacks punch

The film has nothing new to offer and is a half-baked sports drama full of déjà vu moments.
Varun Tej as boxer in Ghani
Varun Tej as boxer in Ghani
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Kiran Korrapati’s sports drama Ghani is so full of déjà vu moments that it could have been titled Ghajini —  did the team forget that the same film has been done over and over again and still end up making it once more? Ghani is about a boxer named Ghani (Varun Tej) whose father was also a boxer. The father left the game in disgrace and Ghani is determined to set the record straight. The conflict point is that the mother (Nadhiya) made him promise as a child that he’d never take up boxing. But of course, Ghani secretly learns boxing and his mother has no clue. Though she opens her adult son’s Flipkart delivery packages without his permission, she’s not like the average Indian mother whose detective skills can put Sherlock Holmes to shame.

Well, so is the film about the mother-son relationship and what happens when she discovers that he’s been learning boxing? Nope. Because there’s another conflict point. Naveen Chandra as Aadi, a rival boxer who is also a spoilt son and a gunda. An attractive CV if there ever was one. Aadi and Ghani get into a fight over the latter’s girlfriend, Maya (Saiee Manjrekar), who flits about like a five-year-old and has no interests in life other than cheering for Ghani. The young boxer thinks she will be too much of a ‘disturbance’ to him and thanks to the insipid writing, that’s precisely what she is to the audience as well.

Ok, so Aadi is the conflict point, right? Wrong. Because there is YET another. The film wastes a lot of time setting up battles that begin and end with a whimper though the overly loud and almost continuous background score will have you believe that it’s the clash of the Titans. Varun Tej has clearly worked hard to look the part of a boxer but you never really warm up to Ghani at any point. Kiran uses a flashback scene from Ghani’s childhood repeatedly to try and make us feel something but even that scene is so artificial that the only thing melting was the ice cream in my cold coffee. Ghani is brought up by a single mom and lives with the bitter memory of his father —  the journey, however, is hardly explored. In the flashback, Ghani’s home is a lower middle class one but in present times, it’s a massive bungalow with a greenhouse. If Ghani and his mother won the lottery in between, we’re not told about it.

Varun is left looking robotic in every scene though he does better in the boxing ring. The matches, however, are far from exciting. There’s not a moment of suspense, not a second of tension. Compare this with Pa Ranjith’s boxing film Sarpatta Parambarai where each match was designed so creatively that we stayed invested all through. In Ghani, the only tension is how many more of these matches you’ll have to endure.

Watch: Trailer of Ghani

Suniel Shetty is the mandatory ‘tough’ coach who transforms the player over the course of a song. Ghani standing on a slippery rock in the middle of a waterfall and throwing punches in the air. Ghani skipping fast. Ghani lifting heavy tyres. Ghani doing everything that we’ve seen a hundred times and have to see yet again because our directors just cannot come up with something new or believably realistic. Upendra has a pivotal role to play and he does well with what he’s given though the plot is full of logical loopholes. Jagapathi Babu appears as a shady character and we know he’s shady because he walks around with a shady cap. Subtle.

The English dialogues sound off while the Telugu ones sound like they’re from a stage play. There are a few feeble attempts at comedy that just don’t work. What could have been an interesting film on betting in sports turns out to be a half-baked potboiler.

Is this a completely unwatchable film? As a reviewer, I have to say I’ve seen far worse. But be warned: Ghani is so predictable that you will feel more knocked-out than the guy taking the punches on screen.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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