Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, Usha Jadhav, Parth Bhalerao
'Bhootnath Returns' displays a bit of heart and a bit of good intention. In this film, Bhootnath (Amitabh Bachchan), the infamously friendly ghost, is desperate to be born again, but the boss of the ‘ghost house’ (which looks eerily similar to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) decides to send him back on earth again to ‘prove’ himself. Bhoothnath yet again stumbles upon a kid who can see him. This time, it is the precocious, street-smart Akhrot (Parth Bhalerao) from Dharavi. As soon as Bhootnath is exposed to the ‘real’ world, the duo takes on the local goonda-turned-politician, James Porto (Boman Irani). The ghost decides to stand for elections against James, and well, all hell breaks loose.
'Bhootnath Returns' review
An interesting premise peppered with many laugh-out-loud moments and clever dialogues (penned by Nitesh Tiwari and Piyush Gupta) make this a delightful watch. The next best thing about the film is that for once, Dharavi is not used to typically propagate poverty porn, instead it is portrayed as the lively place that it is. The rap song, which is an ode to this world’s largest slum area, is catchy.
Deftly directed by Nitesh, the first half is about the growing closeness between Bhootnath and Akhrot as they chance upon an idea to make some cash to solve some of Akhrut’s mother (played by Usha Jadhav)’s problems. As they tease each other and once in while show affection towards each other (Bhootnath in his guarded manner, and Akrut in his bambaiyya, flippant way), one starts warming up to the unlikely friendship between these two characters. While Bachchan is at his usual best, Bhalerao is a good find. Even though it is this child actor’s debut performance, he acts with commendable ease and comfort in front of the camera and while interacting with the legendary star. Except for one or two occasions, he is thankfully not saddled with dialogues beyond his age.
The first half is entertaining and by the time you get to the interval, you are looking forward to the second half. But it dips a bit in energy and it is too long to hold interest. Here the director and the scriptwriter had a tough task on hand. The film moves on to talk about a pertinent social issue and it drags its feet a bit too much. Sharper editing would have helped. Cameos by Anurag Kashyap, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor add weight to the issue being addressed.
For a cynic, this might be too idealist a movie and it probably is. An honest man — or a ghost for that matter — winning elections in one constituency by solving simple issues like water and electricity is definitely not going to make a dent in the burgeoning corruption situation in the country. But then, as the boss at the ghost house says, even ghosts need entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. So if we get a bit of that along with a social message, why not? Watch this film.