Take one legendary Bollywood superstar, one slightly annoying yet amiable child, a handful of seasoned but extraneous actors, and a split personality plot and you get 'Bhoothnath'. Vivek Sharma's directorial debut starts off sweetly enough, and once you realise that it is aimed at being a kid's movie, the first half pretty much works. All is likable even through the third act, where the movie abruptly and unapologetically turns into a handkerchief-friendly melodrama-fest, but what does one really expect from a Chopra film?

That being said, there were some things I enjoyed about this film. The story rests on two shoulders — the experienced Mr. Bachchan as Bhoothnath/Kailash Nath and the raw talent of Aman Siddiqui as Banku — and both shoulder the responsibility beautifully, complimenting each other wonderfully in this grandfather/grandson type relationship (I admit I was not immune to tearing up a few times). Amitabh Bachchan continues to surprise in every film. Any other actor would've been exhausted by now and I applaud the fact that he doesn't take himself too seriously all of the time. It's a refreshing change.

As for the rest of the cast, each contributes in a moderately passable way. Satish Shah is a caricature as the school principal who eats all of the kids sandwiches and Rajpal Yadav plays the drunken bum to the hilt. Though I'm not one to turn down a man in uniform, especially when it's Shah Rukh Khan, he is simply just there with not much substance to speak of (he must have just come off the item song for 'Masta Kalandar' ponytail and all) and Juhi Chawla's performance - that one time mistress of misfits, an on-screen comedienne without compare - ends up as the most laboured one.

The story is mostly aimed at kids, but Vivek Sharma throws in some adult content right before intermission. The unanticipated accident minutes before interval and the emotional moments that follow are brilliantly executed. Ditto for the penultimate 20 minutes, right up to a pooja being organized to 'free' the spirit. Simply outstanding! In fact, the emotional quotient takes the graph of the film to an altogether different level. Even the opening credits were interesting when the candle burned out and the smoke turned into the title of the movie.

Vishal-Shekhar creates a soundtrack which feels immature, but maybe that was their aim. Among the songs, 'Aandhi' is probably the worst picturization I've ever seen in a Hindi film. Dressing the kids up like teenagers (especially the girls who nearly looked like streetwalkers - oh my!) was unnecessary and did not suit the mood for the film. The only song that really stuck in my head is 'Mere Buddy', in which Mr. Bachchan attempts to come off as one cool dude (which works for some I suppose).

Overall, if you can get past all of the impertinent fragments, 'Bhoothnath' is a lovely look at relationships between the young and, shall we say experienced. As someone who never had good relations with her grandparents, I enjoyed it even though it left me feeling a little melancholy. Something happy now please!

4 Response to "Bhoothnath"

  1. theBollywoodFan says:
    June 17, 2009 at 7:47 PM

    I agree on almost everything, shell. The picturization of Aandhi really bothered me too (what were they thinking?). But Amitabh and the kid were a lot of fun to see, and for once, I thought the special effects worked really well with the art direction!

  2. shell says:
    June 18, 2009 at 6:56 AM

    It certainly is nice to see where special effects have gotten better over the years - even the "scary" face was interestingly funny.

  3. Jules says:
    June 20, 2009 at 9:34 PM

    Didn't leave me feeling any sort of connection to grandparents... but I'm so thankful they ended it the way they did so that the boy could still see him cuz I'd have about bawled if they'd have left that all out!

  4. shell says:
    June 21, 2009 at 7:41 AM

    It was a convenient end that left it open for a sequel - though I don't know what kind of movie that would end up being.