wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?)
The first half-second half syndrome strikes again. Bhoothnath starts off with imaginative use of animation and has a cute, very enjoyable first half. The latter half not only makes you sorely miss all of it, but also replaces it with lectures (albeit short), a depressing attitude towards youth that go abroad for better prospects, and very avoidable religious connotations.Read more
NOT A REVIEW - Just letting you know how I look forward to an Amitabh-starrer
31st August 2007 was when I last saw Big B on the big screen. And I would like you to forget that I even remember that occasion. Not to mention that in exactly one month we are going to be exposed to yet another RGV-Amit Roy combination with Sarkar Raj. Hmmm...
Flash-back to the current week. I get curious whenever I see any actor in a role that he/she hasn't done earlier. Bhoothnath is being marketed as a lovable ghost. It's not like we haven't seen this before. Recently we saw Jackie Shroff play Bhoot Unkle. While I thought it was a shoddy movie, the kids who've seen it loved it. I blame that on the choices they have. I just hope Bhoothnath isn't going to take its younger audience for granted.
Juhi Chawla is yet again in her sugary-syrup avatar. Granted, her giggles and laughter bring warmth, but wouldn't she like to do something different? Till then, hoping her smile brings the same sunshine this time too.
The costume and make-up (like in Bhoot Unkle) of the ghost look good and well, scary. A far cry from the lovable ghost image, though. We can't really expect Jackie Shroff or Amitabh Bachchan to look like Casper - the friendly ghost now, can we? I just hope the heavy make-up will not translate to heavy-duty over-the-top acting.
The thing that attracts me most these days to movies with superstars in them is the curiosity about the script they have chosen. Each time, I hope, a movie that has caught the fancy of a high profile actor has a strong script. Bhoothnath's synopsis boasts of a transformation in the attitude of the ghost from irritable to that of love and innocence. Ghost or no ghost, Amitabh or no Amitabh, a transformation in character is one of the things I anticipate the most in movies. Is it believable? Is it one on-the-face event or is it a series of smaller, subtler occurrences?
Yeah, general anticipation, general curiosity, general hope that this Friday, I'll watch a good movie...
- meeta, a part of the audience
Many a time, storywriters use stories to put across their ideologies before their audience. Now, the writing style might be great, or at the very least likable. But, if a reader/viewer doesn't subscribe to the ideology, the writer has lost that one member of the audience. And with Bhoothnath, I am that member. I was a captive audience till it started beating the well-trodden path of stereotypes and meddling with religious issues.
What I call religious issues actually borderlines on faith. Especially, if the specific Hindu rite mentioned is only symbolic of the idea that parents only need a gesture of acceptance, of love. While, it might not be far-fetched, I doubt that is what too many viewers will take away. The point being that instead of imposing religious traditions by using a particular practice as an example, if a larger, more global sub-plot was chosen, the point might have gotten through better.
A lot of the blame could also go to the absolutely unforeseeable slack in pace and change in execution style. From creative and cute use of otherwise-oft-seen special effects, we are sent to a second half where the magical treats do a vanishing act. From a fun, adorable chain of events, we are suddenly thrown into a rather gloomy outlook of society. From a first half with two fairly well developed characters, we are abruptly introduced to new characters and their half-baked relationships post-interval.
Fortunately though, the performances do not suffer from this inconsistency. Amitabh Bachchan plays the grandfatherly ghost, Bhoothnath, who won't let anyone stay in his house even though only his spirit can inhabit it. His comic timing is as impeccable as ever. Not to worry, Amitabh fans - the funny faces, the angst of a person who is worried for someone close, the grief-stricken eyes at the memory of a painful event - all are very much there, the debacle called RGV ki Aag hasn't taken any of it away from him. The only area where he came across as superficial was when the angry ol' man was required to be angry. Sad but true.
Anyway, looks like little Aman, who plays naughty Banku, has taken a leaf or more from the veteran's book. Every time Aman Siddiqui came on screen, I couldn't take my eyes off his eyes - such innocence, such twinkle, such sadness - as and how the story demanded. Same goes for Juhi Chawla who plays her cheerful self, this time as a mother with an unbelievable sense of humor. But come scenes that require her to be anxious and her glycerinated eyes make her work seem effortless.
I usually refrain from commenting on the special appearances, but Shah Rukh Khan's presence was a little more than just a special appearance. It wouldn't be unfair to say that he had more screen presence than some of the other side characters. Shah Rukh Khan plays
Shah Rukh Khan Banku's father. The significance attached to his character's deeds seem like the parts have been forcibly blown-up to fit in the stature of the star. Now, whether he succeeds in performing his role of first-weekend promotional material, the box office will tell in a couple of days.
Anyhow, after a long, long time Satish Shah and Rajpal Yadav actually made me laugh. But where did they disappear in the latter half of the movie. And there start my complaints. Keep in mind that I let go of the usual issue related to non-defined super-powers. As in, why does Bhoothnath show himself, if he doesn't want to be seen?
So, every time, I saw a cool usage of graphics, I hoped that they won't overdo it, and they didn’t. I was happy. Every time, it looked like the story is going to go into predictable zone, an unexpected line brought out loud laughter. I was happy. I thoroughly enjoyed the comment on TV soap operas. Things were going really well till my questions started getting answered.
Then, I asked, "Where's the conflict?" There it came, not good, not bad...a little longer and this would have become too serious to match the tone of the movie so far. "Where's Bhoothnath's backstory? What's his problem?" And I asked for too much. The movie blindly nosedived into new characters with 45 minutes to go. One of them is Bhoothnath's son, who not only is introduced so late, but has a full character arc, rapid transition et al, albeit very under-developed. I found the little speeches a little too boring and the stereotype against Indian emigrants a bit too harsh. Ultimately, the resolution to the story as a whole was the biggest let-down of them all.
All said and done, Bhoothnath surely deserves credit for not taking its younger target audience for granted. Well executed "tributes" to the animation used in the Harry Potter series, ensures that the kids get a quality product. If only, they had maintained it through to the end, if only...
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Sapna Wong, All Bollywood : ... The first half of the movie is filled with youthful enthusiasm that will have both the young and young at heart smiling and giggling in their seats... full review
Thumbs up, by Razeen Shameem, Bolly Spice : ...This could have easily been made into a movie that would have only attracted to kids, but with the right emotional quotient added, even the adults can enjoy it... full review
Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : ...The story rests on two shoulders -- the experienced [Bachchan] and the raw talent [Aman Siddiqui] -- and both shoulder the responsibility beautifully,... full review
Thumbs up, by Harshita Kohli, indya.com : ...Bhoothnath is definitely what the doctor ordered. For kids who are enjoying their summer break. For parents who need to keep the tiny tots occupied.... full review
So-So, by Nikhil Kumar, Apun Ka Choice : ...The story seems to go in circles as the film focuses on the adventures of the kid and the ghost until Bhoothnath’s past catches up with him. Thereon, the tongue-in-cheek humour of the film wisps out of the plot... full review
So-So, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Problems arise somewhere beyond the half-way mark of Bhoothnath when this kids-friendly entertainer turns into something of a rona-dhona heavy Baghbaan rehash... full review
Thumbs down, by Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times : ...And Mr Bachchan, you smiled, cried, smiled, cried, as if you were at a photo-session. Sincere tip: a crash refresher course at the Pune Film Institute might help.... full review
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Bhoothnath (Amitabh Bachchan), the resident ghost of Nath villa, refuses to let anyone stay in his home. Banku's (Aman Siddiqui's) family moves into this house and Banku befriends Bhoothnath.