‘Bhoothnath Returns’ to Take Up Politics
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
Working within self-imposed restrictions, Bhootnath Returns, the much better sequel to Bhoothnath, parlays a mix of emotions in its very open-messaged narrative. The message, as pertinently timed as our own Chambaili last year, is unfussy and apt: get up and vote.
A Ghost of a Minister
Amitabh Bachchan, who returns as Bhoothnath (a far removed version of Sir Simon de Canterville, is often ‘just’ Mr. Bachchan, employing his – of late – routinely earmarked acting skills with warmth and screen-sharing generosity. While this doesn’t do wonders for ‘Bhoothnath’ the character, it helps introduce and sustain credibility to the genuineness of the plea that gradually takes up movie’s last hour and a half.
Forgetting the concept of heaven, hell and purgatory for the sake of cinematic liberty, Bhoothnath finds ghost world – which can be a stand-in for any small British town – clean, perfect and pedestrian. He is, thanks to the last movie, the sleepy town’s latest joke – a ghost who couldn’t scare a little boy. With his pride hurt, Bhoothnath travels back to Earth to scare a few youngsters – which with the way the youth is these days, translates as a failed mission – so that he can return with his pride intact.
Bhoothnath succeeds quite early in the movie, with help from Akhroat (Parth Bhalerao) – a poverty-stricken, incorruptible, smart, smart-aleck, who can see him. The two become ghost busting partners, and later decide to take on a local ruffian-turned-politician (Boman Irani) by entering politics.
The sketchiness of the hypothesis is gracefully pulled off by director Nitesh Tiwari (Chillar Party), as the movie slowly merges the affability of its plot into a serviceable, socially relevant, broadcast of the average man’s voting power. (Cut to: a song here and there, as not-too-annoying space fillers, and cameos by Shah Rukh Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and aptly added, and very droll, bit starring Anurag Kashyap).
I was a little surprised by the minimalism of Kamaljeet Negi’s cinematography, and the restricted use of special effects. The screenplay, instead of booming up cinematic conventionality, grounds itself by keeping a low profile and relying on familiar characters. Mr. Bhalerao is the movie’s backbone, and at times the young actor’s skill overtakes Mr. Bachchan’s decades of acting experience.
The Final Word
The incredulousness of Bhoothnath Returns premise is deftly overpowered by its inherent mildness and equanimity – and of course, Mr. Bhalerao’s entrancing performance. The movie’s punch – and star rating – may tail off a few years later, for now though, it just works.
Distributed by BR Films, ‘Bhootnath Returns’ is rated ‘U’ for universal themes and a public service message almost everyone knows but are too laid back to implement.
Directed by Nitesh Tiwari; Produced by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Renu Ravi Chopra; Written by Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta; Cinematography by Kamaljeet Negi; Editing by Chandrashekhar Prajapati; Music by Palash Muchhal Meet Bros Anjjan, Ram Sampath, Yo Yo Honey Singh.
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Parth Bhalerao, Boman Irani, Anurag Kashyap,Usha Jadhav, Sanjay Mishra, Brijendra Kala, Usha Nadkarni.