Ghani movie review: Varun Tej needs more than Ghani to be an action hero

Action is an ever-evolving genre, especially when the movie combines it with a combat sport. Telugu cinema has had a lively tradition of such films. Take Telugu combat dramas such as Thammudu (1999) – a kickboxing film; Bhadrachalam (2002) – a Taekwondo movie; Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi (2003) – a film based on kickboxing; and Guru (2017) – a boxing drama, all of which emerged as superhits. The reason behind their popularity remained the emotional core that connected the audience. For instance, in Thammudu and Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi, the fraught father-son relationship connected with the audience. It made us root for the protagonist as we watch the film.

Entering this pantheon is Varun Tej’s Ghani but unlike its illustrious predecessors, it misses that emotional heft which can make the audience land in your corner.

Varun’s Ghani hates his father, Vikramaditya (Upendra), because he believes he doped his way into the sport of boxing. This plot point, which could have been the mainstay of the film, is told so simplistically and predictably that it never registers. Starting from Ghani’s approach to boxing to his hatred for his father and how he thrives in the sport, everything feels forced and artificial. The betting angle in Ghani’s story is another missed opportunity.

Ghani feels like a film from the 80s given its tone and feel. Actors like Upendra, Suniel Shetty, Jagapathi Babu, and Nadiya are wasted in the film. While Upendra’s Vikramaditya seems to be delivering a lecture at every opportunity he gets, Suniel Shetty seems to be the only one who is in on the joke.

The effort that Varun Tej has put in the role is visible and if there is one reason to watch this film, it’s him. But to be a mass and action hero, he needs more than just paying Ghani.

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