Friday, April 11, 2014

REVIEW 255: BHOOTHNATH RETURNS


Release date:
April 11, 2014
Director:
Nitesh Tiwari
Cast:




Language:

Amitabh Bachchan, Parth Bhalerao, Boman Irani, Usha Jadhav, Sanjay Mishra, Brijendra Kala, Cameos: Anurag Kashyap, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranbir Kapoor
Hindi

There’s a point in Bhoothnath Returns when Amitabh Bachchan’s character makes this very telling comment: Kabhi kabhi buraai khud buraai ko khatam kar daalta hai. The line is not a call to non-action by good folk, but a realisation that even as good fights evil, sometimes evil brings its own competition down. The line also marks one of the neatest twists in this well-meaning film that brings Bhootnath The Friendly Ghost back to Earth after we first met him in 2008’s Bhoothnath.

Bachchan plays the spirit who ends up standing for elections in Mumbai as his goal of helping a poor boy from Dharavi called Akhrot (Parth Bhalerao) turns into a goal to cleanse the Indian polity. The first half of the film has poignance, mischief and humour as Bhoothnath first sorts out Akhrot’s problems, then helps him become a professional ghostbuster, and finally becomes a politician himself. There is nothing in the Indian law that says a candidate must be alive to stand for elections, we are told. You can imagine the chuckles that entire sequence elicits.

Director Nitesh Tiwari ensures that the story trots along at a brisk pace for the most part, armed with a talented bunch of actors headlined by the lovely Big B and Parth. This wonderful child actor treads that fine line between precociousness and pizzazz delicately, and manages to keep his feet on the right side of the line while not once stepping out of character. It’s also worth noting that Bachchan always seems to put his child co-stars at ease as is evident not just here but earlier in Black and Bhoothnath too. Tiwari too must be complimented for his ability to spot gifted children – he’s the co-director of 2011’s Chillar Party. The children of Chillar were so amazing that the 10 of them jointly won the year’s National Award for Best Child Artiste (shared with Partho from Amole Gupte’s Stanley ka Dabba). It’s important to note that Bollywood’s ace casting director Mukesh Chhabra has worked on both films.

However, there are other not-so-fine elements from Chillar Party that Tiwari carries forward into this film: the absence of girls and women from the forefront of the action; and an item song in the end that arrives part way through the credits, placed in such a manner that most viewers are likely to miss it (having lingered to note down names of some crew members, I was at the door of the hall when it started, so I returned; most of the audience had left by then).

The timing of the film is apt. Rarely before has Bollywood made such a concerted effort to influence viewers to participate in the democratic process and to vote. The point is very effectively conveyed until Bhoothnath Returns turns into a speech in the final 45 minutes or so. At 2 hours and 35 minutes, the film is also just too long, feels stretched beyond a point and speaks in two tones.  Ram Sampath’s eloquent and moving song Sahib, for instance, is used in a documentary-style sequence featuring this slow-moving number played over a series of National Geographic-like stills of mostly poor Indians across communities.

It’s also never nice to see a director getting star-struck. Bhoothnath and Akhrot are the protagonists of this film, but that final item number during the credits shows us just brief glimpses of young Parth, and revolves instead around Bachchan with singer Yo Yo Honey Singh. Come Party With Bhoothnath is a catchy dance number, but is incongruous in a children’s film, especially with lyrics that go thus:

Don't waste your time, ab sun lo tum meri baat
Kahaan dhoondoge iss shehar mein club tum aadhi raat

Jab saari duniya so jaati hai
After party ho jaati hai
After party ke bhi after
Jo chale ye woh party hai

Come Party with The Bhoothnath, Relax man! (four times) …

Music... bajaate jaao
Daaru... pilaate jaao
Haathon... ko uthaate jaao
Aaj raat... sabko nachaate jaao

Daaru pilaate jaao” in a kids’ film? In a video featuring those kids, albeit briefly? Strange!

Still, until it gets confused about what it wants to be – feature film or docu, children’s film or adult fare, light-hearted entertainer with a message or dead serious – Bhoothnath Returns is a lot of fun. It’s good to see Bachchan in a role so different from the standard patriarch he usually plays in films these days. As for Parth, he’s something special.

Rating (out of five stars): **3/4

Footnote: After seeing Bhoothnath befriending a little boy in the first film, it would have been so refreshing to see him with a little girl in the sequel. This is not a criticism of Bhoothnath Returns in particular but of Bollywood in general. We know that this industry prefers to tell us stories of men, but it’s sad to see the male dominance extending to children’s films too.


CBFC Rating (India):
U
Running time:
155 minutes

Lyrics courtesy: http://www.lyricsmint.com


2 comments:

  1. Movie Lacks punch ... Amitabh is as usual The Greatest actor and he played his part ... but story didnt favour the motto ... Movie tends to go more towards kids zone, as its has to be ... but today's kids dont think like 90's kids ... Overall Ok ... cud have been much better

    ReplyDelete
  2. Movie Lacks punch ... Amitabh is as usual The Greatest actor and he played his part ... but story didnt favour the motto ... Movie tends to go more towards kids zone, as its has to be ... but today's kids dont think like 90's kids ... Overall Ok ... cud have been much better

    ReplyDelete