From the successful family film, Bhoothnath (2008), Nitish Tiwari comes back with a sequel, Bhoothnath Returns. As they all say, some sequels aren’t as good as the first film, yet in this case; both films were equally as entertaining.
Starring Amitabh Bachan as Bhoothnath, the film continues on from the first, where he settles in ‘Ghost World’, a lovely resort also known as heaven. As the fellow dead people make fun of him not being able to scare a child, he goes to the ghost headquarters demanding a chance to visit the Earth once again to prove them all wrong. After pleading, his wish is fulfilled where he lands in a small village in India. He attempts to scare children of all ages, where he fails, as kids nowadays just aren’t scared. Bhoothnath bumps into a kid named ‘Akhrot’ (Parth Bhalerao) who can actually see him, whilst to others he’s invisible. By swapping favours, Bhoothanth and Akhrot become good friends. Bhoothnath helps him make some money by clearing ghosts from buildings and vice versa, Akhrot gets some kids frightened. After several ghost clearings, there comes another building where some ghosts are not taking yes for an answer. The ghost states how this ridicule system is unfair, where by ridding these ghosts, Bhoothanth and Akrot are simply increasing the corrupt system. As they come to terms with this dilemma, election nominee Bhau demands this job to be done. Their only way of saving India and truly making a change is by Bhoothnath standing for the elections.
Nitish Tiwari takes on an eye-opening journey in which we learn the cold, hard facts of India. Politics are corrupted, the winners are fixed, voters are bribed with money and alcohol, and justice is denied. These issues beam in Bhoothnath’s eyes, where he’s eager for a change. The film powerfully shows us the truth with what goes on behind the doors. How the elections are a stressful period, where the sleazy criminals who stand up for them are profoundly disgusting. Tiwari emphasizes how these men misuse their power and dub their criminal activity. Thus we’re shown this rivalry between Bhoothnath and Bhau, between good and evil. Though it’s not just a game of who wins, sincerely Bhoothnath doesn’t ask for votes, yet a chance for the citizens to help make change to India. He truthfully asks them to vote, even if it’s ‘None of the above’, their vote means their voice.
Amitabh Bachan is perfect for the role of Bhoothnath, where he does justice to the script. The way he speaks his dialogue is very interesting, where he has the right pace and pauses, allowing you to remember every word. Whether it’s a speech, a moment of truth or a reply, everything Bachan says is crucial and thus very wisely said. As a ghost, Bachan transforms into an invisible character, where his tips and tricks are remarkably done. This of course where the CGI and editing is carefully done with vast detail, making all the features look realistic. The slow motion scene is visually pleasing to see, adding to the tension and action.
Bachan’s chemistry with Parth is beautiful to see on screen. They have this sweet banter with is fun and jokey, but at the same time, Bhoothnath is a role model. They’re a great team together, where with Bhoothnath’s belief and Akhrots innocence together with wanting to see India change, the film works. I believe this is the first major Bollywood Film Parth has landed in and hats off to his fine performance. Parth manages to demonstrate versatility in bringing to life a helpless kid whom comes across as a slumdog trying to make some cash on the street. His dialect and accent of a typical villager in India reinforces his persona, where his dialogue is mesmorising. Akhrot brings the comedy to the film where he brings out Bhoothnath’s character through dance numbers and jokes. Akhrot has this genuine personality where your eager for him to get rewarded. Even though he lives in the slums, not once is there shame on his face nor a pinch of regret. Akhrots a happy kid on the block and without his support or belief, Bhoothnath may not have stood in the elections.
Bomani Irani as the ruthless nominee for the elections, is not as convincing as a villain. This may be due to fact that I’ve always seen him in comedy films, where he comes across as slapstick funny. Though I appreciate his efforts, as he manages to create a selfish character. His idiotic behavior is irritating, yet that’s what makes him seem like a conman. His acting in the scene where he pretends to be pestered by Bhoothnath is realistically done. Irani brings the comedy to the film through his petrified moments when he is questioned by Bhoothnath. His character is crucial to the film, as it represents all of the people who stand for their village. He demonstrates the leader of this corrupt system where his crimes are cleared through heaps of money. He represents those selfless villains whom without power are simply nothing.
Overall, Bhoothnath Returns is a fantastic family film, filled with moments of comedy and a heck of drama. Tiwari takes on a journey of a ghost who is just like any other living person. We’re shown how change can be easily accomplished; yet people like Bhau don’t make this happen due to foolishness of money and status. It’s great to see crucial issues like this shown in films, as it makes you realise how every vote matters and by just stepping up, change can be achieved. Though, the film is far too long paced, where there are a few unnecessary scenes being dragged out. The second half becomes devoted to the elections, where it seems to just care about the voting system in general rather than the narrative.
My Rating: 8/10
Written by: Meera Darji