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Banku, his mother, Anjali Sharma and father move in to their new house -- the Nath villa, unaware of the fact that the house is inhabited by a ghost. It is learnt the ghost is not too happy with his new housemates. But what the ghost is not prepared for is his unlikely friendship with Banku. Now Banku must uncover the reason why his ghostly friend is stuck and help him to attain salvation. Written by
A Story Of A Heartwarming Friendship Between A Ghost and A Child
Debutant director Vivek Sharma's 'Bhoothnath' is a delightful treat to watch. His execution shows that he's among the promising directors. The camera-work is very impressive. The special effects are superb (something one hardly witnesses in an Indian film). Not only do they look great, they are very effectively used. What makes 'Bhoothnath' better than other films of its genre is that it appeals to both adults and children especially because of the comedy.
Viewers can easily connect to the characters as are very likable and very real. Anjali isn't just the stereotypical mother one has grown too familiar with in a children's film. She's a loving mother alright but one that hates to cook and one that's honest enough to the principal to tell him (in good humour) that her son is a 'nightmare'. Banku isn't your average filmy kid (and credit goes to the actor for that). He is the likable little brat one would recognize in themselves. And of course, there's 'Bhoothnath' who could have easily been a caricature but remains a well-defined character that is courageous, stubborn, vulnerable, caring and eventually friendly.
The writing is mostly good. The inspiration by films like 'Bogus', 'Casper' and 'The Sixth Sense' may show but 'Bhoothnath' is very much its own film. The dialogues are great and the film moves at a steady pace. However, the Ashish Chaudhury-Nauheed Cyrusi track could have better been left out. Their below-average acting give the impression that 'Bhoothnath' is just another cheesy horror film. That may have been Sharma's intention in order to surprise the viewer but I don't think it's necessary. The demonic daughter-in-law is a caricature that feeds the stereotype of Americans being careless towards family. There are a few plot holes. how is it that Bhoothnath can touch Banku at times but during a key scene, Banku is about to fall down the stairs but Bhoothnath is unable to save him because his hand moves through Banku's. Also, the whole death ritual track looks a bit out of place but at the same time this scene brilliantly displays Banku's innocence. Banku thinks that ritual is to celebrate Bhoothnath's birthday and he happily participates. Moreover this scene is wonderfully executed. The close-ups shifting back and forth from Amitabh's sad face (as he knows he'll never see Banku again) to Aman's thrilled face (as he thinks Bhootnath will be promoted to 'star' angel). Though things get more emotional in the second half, Sharma manages to balance it well with the rest.
I have to say that Amitabh Bachchan really blew me away as 'Bhoothnath'. I did not like him in any of his films post 1980something (with the exception of 'Baghban') but he totally owns Bhoothnath. There is one scene where he overacts but I suppose it's become his trademark to have at least one scene where he screams. Nonetheless, this flaw is very minor and can be overlooked given his otherwise consistent performance. His heartbreaking acting scene while he watches a happy Banku and his parents perform his 'last rites' reminded me of the exceptional actor he was in the 70s. Juhi Chawla is excellent as she brings charisma, devotion and liveliness to Anjali. Her Anjali is a laid-back woman but a caring mother. I don't understand why they people compared her to Aishwarya Rai's glycerin shedding performance in 'Umrao Jaan'. Whether she used glycerin or not in the crying scenes, she played her part very well and brought out Anjali's fear of losing her child and her sympathy for Bhoothnath. Last year there was 'Taare Zameen Par's Darsheel Safari and this year it is newcomer Aman Siddiqui who surprises the audience with a superb performance. Siddiqui simply acts like a child in a very natural way. He isn't one of those kids who overly tries to be cute, begging for the audience to go 'awww'. He too owns his part. Shahrukh Khan has a strong presence in a small role. He and Juhi have always been magic together on screen and it was great to see them play parents. Satish Shah and Rajpal Yadav are respectively hilarious as the 'bullying' principal and thief. All these actors share a good chemistry. While it's good to see Priyanshu Chatterjee after his absence from films, he is simply okay here.
Among the songs, I really liked the 'Aandhi' track, filmed on the children in their different get-ups. But, it was weird to see the little girls dressed as prostitutes. 'Chale Jaane Do' is a sweet track sung by Amitabh and Juhi. I didn't like the hip hop track 'Mere Buddy' so much.
In a nutshell, 'Bhoothnath' is one of the better films of the genre. Forget all those pretentious crap 'Krishh' and 'Koi Mil Gaya'. 'Bhoothnath' too may be a larger than life film but one that connects to both adults and children. In spite of a 2hour 15 minutes length, it didn't feel like a waste. Why should it if you're having fun?
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