Saiyami Kher: The Ghoomer Girl 
Saiyami Kher: The Ghoomer Girl 

How the passion for cricket landed Saiyami Kher a role of a lifetime

Ghoomer, R Balki’s latest movie is made extra-memorable by Saiyami Kher’s flawless performance as Anini –a flawless batter, who just before her first match as part of team India, meets with a freak accident and has her right arm amputated. The movie follows her resilient journey as she gives life and cricket a second chance and returns to the pitch as a left-handed spinner with a unique action, the ‘Ghoomer’.  


It is not an easy act and the dialogues, which can often be used as a crutch, are sparse. But Saiyami shines in every frame. What is more commendable than her nuanced acting is the physical training that has gone into playing an amputee sportsperson.  


 “When I was training before shooting started, left-arm spinner Murali Kartik would come for three-four days to check how I was doing technically. Besides cricket, I also had to get that ‘Ghoomer’ action or the new style of spinning the ball right, which was very tough to master” says Saiyami. But that was not all. She also had to undergo more training that was needed to be done only with one hand. “Playing cricket with your left hand is one thing and playing it with just one hand is another challenge as my right hand used to be tied up for nearly nine to 10 hours a day while shooting,” says the actor.  


The actor, also known for her roles in the film Choked (2020), TV series Special OPS (2020) and Wild Dog (2021), undertook six months of strenuous training for R. Balki’s Ghoomer to turn leftie for her role of Anina. Apart from bowling left handed, a completely alien thing for her, Saiyami went the extra mile, using the same hand to carry out daily chores from cooking to washing her hair for those six months, until it became second nature.   


Not only is it a role of a lifetime, but it seems life has come full circle for 31-year-old with Ghoomer for cricket has been her first love. “I used to play cricket when I was younger and I have never really trained under a coach. In fact, I picked up the game on my own from my house help, who taught me how to play,” says the actor, who debuted with Rey (2015) in Telugu cinema and Mirzya (2016), in Bollywood. 


In school, Saiyami coached 10 girls and together they won the Maharashtra State Championship.  “And that’s the only leather ball practice I had. Otherwise, every Sunday I would play cricket with my boy gang!” she fondly recalls.   


Saiyami adds: “Cricket was a passion because I followed every tournament each day ever since I was nine years. Also, I was even invited to the women’s cricket team selection, while shooting for Mirzya but I couldn’t make it.”  


In fact, sport has been very integral to Saiyami’s life – she had also trained in professional badminton at school in Pune and when she moved to Mumbai for higher studies, she took admission at St. Xavier’s College through sports quota and ended up playing as many as eight different sports for the college.  



But it was in college that she also got bit by the acting bug. “As the theatre culture is very strong at St. Xavier’s acting happened. When I was 15-16, I ranked 8th or 9th in the under-16 category. I realised I was very far away from making the cut for the Indian badminton team,” she says.  


And, it was then that Saiyami’s focus shifted from sport to acting, and it happened rather organically. She began landing ads and soon enough couldn’t imagine doing anything else in life.  “When I went and trained with Adil Hussain and Dilip Shankar, my acting gurus in Delhi, they cemented my love for the craft,” says Saiyami.        


When she started modelling and acting, Saiyami’s publicists advised her not to reveal her love for sports to filmmakers as it’s a male domain and certainly not something that a Bollywood heroine would be aspiring for. But it was too integral to her life and actually Balki saw her playing cricket somewhere four-and-a-half years ago and told her that he wanted to make this film and, if he did, he wanted to cast her in it or else he was not making it! “So Ghoomer happened because of my love for cricket!” smiles Saiyami.  


Looking ahead, the actor wants to go with the flow and her plan is to keep working as well as enjoy the work. “For the next five years, if I can work for 365 days each year, I am happy because for me, it’s not work, it’s a holiday, when I go to a film set. I feel very grateful to be doing what I am because we get to travel to the best of places and I truly enjoy being in front of the camera,” the actor gushed.  


That said, sport has shaped Sayami into the person she is today with regards to dealing with life, failure, stress. It has kept her going and it will always be something she would remain indebted to for learning the lessons of life! 

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