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Bhootnath Returns.......Ghost Samaritan

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MUMBAI: It has become a trend for a film to end with a threat of a sequel. Good or bad or outright disastrous, most films leave open the possibility. That is like hoping to build a high rise on a weak foundation since most of these films promising sequels are flops. In that event, what led to the sequel to Bhootnath which was rejected in cinemas though it did better on TV and DVD circuits? Whatever the inspiration, here goes:

Bhootnath, Amitabh Bachchan, has been referred back to ghost land like a bounced cheque since he has failed to scare people on his first outing with earthlings. Ghosts laugh at him because of his failure to scare humans. Amitabh has eons before he can return to earth as a human and he feels belittled at this treatment by fellow ghosts. He asks the boss of ghost land to give him one more chance to go back and successfully scare people. After all, scaring living beings is what ghosts are supposed to do!I know as much about ghosts as ghosts know about me but this is what the film professes.

Back on earth, Amitabh uses his ghostly powers to scare some kids playing cricket in a deserted place. The kids are not the kind to believe in ghosts, let alone be scared of one. He comes across a kid, Parth Bhalerao, who can see him and is not scared of him since he does not believe Amitabh to be a ghost; the kid is street smart.  A street smart kid led to Amitabh’s failure on his last trip on earth but, this time, the kid and the ghost both decide to use each others’ strengths.

Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Chopra, Renu Ravi Chopra.

Direction: Nitesh Tiwari.

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Parth Bhalerao, Boman Irani, Usha Jadhav, Sanjay Mishra, Brijendra Kala, Usha Nadkarni.

It seems the area where Partho lives, Dharavi, is the most neglected and deprived in Mumbai. Bhootnath decides to make his return to the earth at Dharavi, his bad luck! Soon Parth teaches the ghost the game of using each other. While Parth uses Amitabh to first help scare the convent school gang of cricket players and get into their league, Amitabh, in return, earns secrecy about his being and the fact that he is not all that scary a ghost. With a little help from Parth, Amitabh becomes a good neighbourly ghost helping people get their due justice. It is all fun so far but it is also time to introduce the villain.

Boman Irani is an ex-local goon turned politician and has been ruling the area assembly seat for the last three terms. His is a reign of terror, corruption and exploitation. His voters abhor him but also vote for him. Nobody would contest an election against him and, finally, it is left to Amitabh to do it. The law is silent on weather a dead man can contest an election and his lawyer, Sanjay Mishra, asserts as such. So, it is an electoral fight between Amitabh and Boman. This is where the film loses its purpose and direction and, mainly, its target audience: the kids it is aimed at.

The film entertains with its witty one liners delivered by Parth but, once the election issue is introduced, it becomes another film altogether. The light moments vanish and moralising lectures take their place, which is boring. On that count, the script loses its purpose. Direction is fair with quite a few liberties taken. There is no scope for songs except for sermonising kinds. Cinematography is good. Dialogue is well penned. The film has sourced a few of its actors from Marathi films. Parth is impressive. Usha Jadhav as his mother is very good. Amitabh Bachchan is his usual self, one who does not have to act to convey his part. Boman Irani goes a bit overboard at times. Sanjay Mishra and Brijendra Kala are good as always. Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor make brief cameos to no effect.

On the whole, the problem with Bhootnath Returns is that it turns out to be a children’s film with an adult theme coming as it does in the multiplex era where waiting for a DVD works out more economical than sending kids to cinema halls (as has been proved by the performance of Bhootnath on this count).

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