Bhoothnath Returns - Review

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?) - Just the *really* keen, preferably those who have kids
quick review:

Bhoothnath Returns is a kids’ film that at least some of us adults must watch this election season. Though it is a tad too naïve and preachy, and a little too long for it's own good, the film attempts to make a point that a number of us can learn from; it is a well-acted film with some genuine moments.

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Wogma Review

*I am out on a vacation. Pradeep has been kind enough to review the film for wogma. So here goes...

~ meetu*

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It is election season, so obviously Hindi cinema can't be expected to not cash in on the fervour. Bhoothnath, the ghost who failed miserably in attempting to scare the bollocks out of little Banku is back. This time, he has another kid for company, and this time, he's taking on the establishment.

Watching Amitabh Bachchan taking on the system has historically always been fun. This time though, he's doing it a little tongue-in-cheek, without landing any of those fearsome kicks that have left many a backside sore. Nitesh Tiwari, co-director of Chillar Party, gives us a film that easily surpasses the first one.

Bhoothnath Returns has its heart in the right place. After his escapades from the first film, Bhoothnath makes his way to some sort of ghost headquarters, known as Bhoothworld, where he is a laughing stock for being a ghost who couldn't scare even a little child. (Presumably every country has its own Bhoothworld, because in the land shown in the film, every ghost is Indian.) Bhoothnath then returns to Earth to make amends, where he gets sucked into a political battle with a crafty politician.

The film is quite funny in spurts, in a really sweet, genuine way. The humour is clean, and at times it is so innocent that you can't help a smile or a chuckle, even if you aren't actually tickled by the jokes. For example, keep a look out for all the signboards in Bhoothworld - they remind you of a time when there was no intent to be extra-smart in cinema, just the wish to make an understated point.

The real story of the film begins when our ghost decides that he wants to stand for elections. Now the thing is, if you aren't able to wrap your head around this unlikely premise, then there's no chance at all that you'll even want to see the point that the film is attempting to make. There are certain films where one just must suspend their disbelief, and this film is one of those.

Because really, the film has an important message for us all - the fact that it is important to be an active participant in the democratic process, that it is important to take the onus of selecting your candidate, if you don't want a candidate thrust down your throat. It's good to see that the film takes on the more general problems that one would face with a corrupt politician in power, rather than equating him to any of our real life elected villains.

Amitabh Bachchan also shares a warm camaraderie with a little boy who goes by the unusual name 'Akhrot', which means walnut. Played with spunk by child actor Parth, he's essentially the soul of the film. In fact, despite terrific performances by Mr. Bachchan and Boman Irani as the politician Bhau, it is little Akhrot's character that propels the film in the directions it chooses. After all, the little children of today are the future. They're the ones who'll be more affected by the choices we make today.

The film also has a host of good character actors in smaller roles, who appear one after the other through the film. Brijendra Kala and Sanjay Mishra - both of whom were last seen in Ankhon Dekhi - are quite outstanding. Watch out also for a couple of superstar cameos, and for one scene involving a well known Indian film director who plays himself.

The thing is, if the average Indian wasn't gullible or apathetic, then one could have made a serious film that tackles the message that Bhoothnath Returns does. The film is a little too preachy, a little too naïve at times. Essentially it is a film that would work well to educate children on the importance of the citizen in democracy. Unfortunately, it seems that is also the only way to educate adults as well.

Another time, another place, one would say that while Bhoothnath Returns is better than its predecessor, it isn't particularly a must-watch by itself. This election season, however, one can't help wonder that, even though Bhoothnath Returns isn't nearly the political film we deserve, it is perhaps the one we need right now.

This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Some agression, a child being hit.
  • Language: Clean.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: Bhoothnath returns, and takes up a good cause.
  • General Look and Feel: A bright film, the locations work well.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 3
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 3.5
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 2.5
  • Music Director: 2
  • Lyrics: 2.5

Bhoothnath Returns - Movie Details

Bhoothnath Returns - Trailer

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Comments (6)

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Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 1.5
Story: 0.5
Lead Actors: 2
Character Artists: 0.5

Dialogues: 0.5
Screenplay: 1
Music Director: 0.5
Lyrics: 0.5

Divya:

....loved those signages...loved dharavi...loved mannerism of each of those sarkari babus...loved "bad kar. Puri duniya ko jod dega kya"...loved bhau s sidekick...loved amitabh in each and every frame ...loved that kid ...in fact...just for not being extra fussy...absolutely loved your review...

KnowAbutYou:

i think this movie make 50 cr in first week.

Pradeep:

@Divya: Glad you enjoyed the film, and thank you for the kind words on the review!

TimELiebe:

Pardeep - Hey, good to see you reviewing mainstream Indian movies, man!

As for BHOOTHNATH RETURNS, my American friends and I really enjoyed the first one, describing it to others in the US as India's version of a Disney film, GHOST GRANDPA. So this sounds like fun, and I have to admit it will be interesting to see political hijinks from your country's PoV.

We can't wait for it to hit DVD or the one screen near us that shows Indian movies….

TimELiebe:

Saw this finally on Hulu (a television and movie streaming service in the US), and while it's not as good as the first one, Bhoothnath entering politics was good for a few laughs at political shenanigans which are the same all over - and Bachchan-ji is, as always, great to watch. (I'm sure that he had a blast mocking political chicanery, given his former career as a politician!)

Boman Irani as the villain - is a bit more problematic for me, because I don't think the movie had decided if he was a comical baddie or a for-real menacing one, so he tried to be both! If the writing and direction had been backing him up it could have been great (a silly munnabhai type you don't feel is a real threat - until he suddenly is), but it felt more like Irani had been left on his own, so unless the scene called for him to actually be sinister or menacing he went for the comedy, because...he's Boman Irani and he's a funny guy!

In the end - not as good as the first, but still enjoyable. Just don't want it on Hulu if it ever comes to India - we ended up watching ads every five minutes, it felt like!

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