Remember the film about a young couple moving into a haunted dwelling with the pretty wife possessed by a restless ghost? Of course you do! I could be talking about anywhere up to ten films. Bhoot, the much-awaited film by director Ram Gopal Verma tackles this staple horror movie concept with some finesse (for a Bollywood production), but ultimately strains credulity. It will be remembered more for its flaws than it's originality, which is a pity considering the fact that Verma is one of the most creative directors working in Bollywood today.
This reviewer having followed RPG's career closely right from the Forgettable Rangeela to the notable Company, found it hard to forgive him his reliance on standard horror movie conventions in Bhoot. The denouement, hastily sketched, predictable while illogical, makes one wince. A plain disappointment!
Bhoot tells the tale of a young couple, Vishaal (Ajay Devgan) and Swati (Urmila Matondkar) much in love and lust (thankfully) who move into the penthouse of a Bombay apartment building. Things go bump in the night, and we are privy to a dark presence that follows the movement of young Swati, resentful and restlessly watchful. The house, it appears, is haunted by the ghost of the previous tenant, Manjeet a young widow.
Eerie music reminds you that horrific scenes are soon to come, as do clichéd old shots of shadows of trees climbing the high-rise and repeated tracking of Swati's legs (shapely though they are) up and down the stairs. Much time is spent creating atmosphere and the Repetition of visual motifs in the first half (an elevator going up and down the chute, Devgan driving to work and back) is pointless and seems an utter waste of celluloid. Verma’s carefully crafted and calculated shots begin to look too orchestrated to resonate with a discerning viewer.
Swati's behavior soon becomes erratic enough to alarm her husband and herself. When the watchman of the building is found sitting in his chair, his head twisted 180 degrees around, right after one of Swati's trips down the stairs, a psychiatrist, a policeman and other sundry characters appear out of the woodworks to populate the film. The abrupt and ridiculous ending does nothing to justify the effort taken to establish the sequence of events.
Victor Bannerjee as the psychiatrist whose daughter is dying from blood Cancer is brilliant, though wasted in this meaningless role, Nana Patekar as the eccentric Police Inspector is irritating with his mannerisms, which were no doubt meant to be endearing. Frankly, it is insulting to Patekar to have an actor of his caliber stoop to this level. Rekha as the medium called in to help Swati is as ridiculous as the character she plays, as is another fine actor Seema Biswas, who, like the character she plays, has absolutely nothing to contribute in this film.
Urmila Matondkar, who is receiving high praise for this role is merely adequate. Her mannerisms are irritating, even though one has to admit that she has limited them in this film. Ajay Devgan sleepwalks through his role. It's hard to believe that this is the actor who projected such a powerful presence in RPG's Company! Fardeen Khan in his brief appearance is passable.
All said, the film does have some good points. For filmgoers used to the formula boy-meets-girl potboilers, Bhoot offers superior cinematography and technical crispness, which elevates the film to above run of the mill
Writers Sameer Sharma and Lalit Marathe have done a commendable job with the script. Vishal Sunhat’s cinematography is impressive, and the sound effects by Dwarak Warrior is interesting albeit a little irritating by the time one is half way through the film.
Ditto for the back ground score by Salim Suleman.
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Ram Gopal Verma
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