T-Series and B.R. Films’ Bhoothnath Returns is the sequel to Bhoothnath. Friendly ghost Bhoothnath becomes the butt end of all jokes in Bhooth World because he has been unable to scare anyone on Earth. Distressed about being ridiculed, Bhoothnath asks for an opportunity to be reborn, as a human being but since there is a long waiting list, he is sent to Earth once again so that he can frighten people and thereby prove to be true to his character (of a ghost).
Once among human beings, Bhoothnath can be seen only by a little boy, Akhrot (master Parth Shashank Bhalerao). Akhrot soon strikes up a special bond of friendship with Bhoothnath who then ensures that the little boy earns money for his impoverished and widowed mother by helping him (Akhrot) vacate ghosts from dilapidated and old building structures for a price. Elections are around the corner and local corrupt politician Bhau (Boman Irani) is at it again, trying to woo the voters of his constituency. Akhrot literally forces Bhoothnath to contest elections to give Bhau tough competition. The two of them go to advocate Gabdi (Sanjay Mishra) who is at first flabbergasted at the prospect of a ghost contesting elections but then realises that being alive is not spelt out as a pre-condition for one to fight elections. Bhoothnath files his nomination papers. At first amused by the unprecedented move, Bhau soon begins to feel the heat under his collar when Bhoothnath starts to become popular among the people of his constituency due to media coverage given to the unusual candidate and his nomination.
Election campaigning begins in right earnest and Bhoothnath exposes the misdeeds of Bhau before the voters. Soon, Bhoothnath vows not to use his ghostly super-power to woo voters because Bhau accuses him of not fighting a fair battle.
As the election day approaches, Bhau realises that Bhoothnath’s popularity has grown manifold. He tries to put a spoke in the wheel by pointing out that a candidate must be capable of voting and since Bhoothnath was a ghost, he couldn’t vote and, by implication, was not eligible to contest elections. But help comes out of the blue when Banku’s father (Shah Rukh Khan) gives Bhoothnath a significant piece of information. With this relevant information, the system now considers Bhoothnath eligible as a candidate. Bhoothnath appeals to the people to at least exercise their voting power by casting their vote, whether for himself or Bhau or none of them. In a pointed manner, he explains that the voice of people without voter cards would never be heard. This soon becomes a movement with individuals who don’t possess voter cards not being heard even in day-to-day life by Bhoothnath’s supporters whose number keeps growing.
Finally, on seeing Bhoothnath stealing the thunder from right under his nose, Bhau is driven to despair and he sends his men to kill Akhrot as Bhoothnath is very fond of him and, he feels, only the boy’s death would ensure his (Bhau) victory. Akhrot escapes once but is not as lucky the second time when Bhau’s men injure him grievously. He is admitted to the ICU of a hospital where he battles for life.
What happens then? Does little Akhrot die or is he saved by medical science or otherwise? Who wins the elections – Bhoothnath or Bhau?
Nitesh Tiwari and Piyush Gupta’s story is very unusual and although it is absurd to even imagine that a ghost can contest elections, the drama becomes plausible and palatable because of their entertaining and satirical screenplay, with additional screenplay by Nikhil Mehrotra and Shreyas Jain. The film becomes a satirical comment on the political and social system in the country and talks of corruption, lack of accountability and the like with such simplistic humour that the audience gets taken in very easily. Yes, the film drags at places when the proceedings become very slow and this tends to bore the audience sometimes but the sheer novelty of subject, the entertainment quotient and the satire keep entertaining the viewers. Further, the issues taken up by Bhoothnath – water shortage, potholed roads and garbage on the streets – are so real that the common man will identity with them. Also, since the Lok Sabha elections in India are currently on in the country, the film’s appeal due to its timely release would be higher.
The film boasts of a number of highlight scenes and sequences. Prominent among such scenes are: Bhoothnath helping Akhrot make money by driving out ghosts; Bhoothnath consulting a lawyer for contesting elections; Bhau’s reaction to the news of Bhoothnath’s candidature; Bhoothnath starting the voter card movement and how it gains momentum; Bhoothnath’s encounter with Bhau in the latter’s toilet; Bhoothnath’s television interviews; Bhoothnath’s meeting with a film lyricist (Anurag Kashyap); etc. The scene of Banku’s father (Shah Rukh Khan) giving Bhoothnath a piece of information will be met with a round of applause in the cinema halls. Similarly, Ranbir Kapoor’s (himself) scene will be loved by the audience. The film also has its share of emotions, especially towards the end. Romance is completely missing and that’s a minus point. Climax is too short and leaves the viewer a bit dissatisfied. Dialogues, penned by Nitesh Tiwari and Piyush Gupta, with additional dialogues by Nikhil Mehrotra and Shreyas Jain, are superb and one of the several mainstays of the film. The humour and the satire in the dialogues make them supremely enjoyable and entertaining. All in all, the script is intelligent, entertaining and engrossing.
Amitabh Bachchan lives the character of Bhoothnath and yet again gives proof of his genius as an actor. He does such a wonderful job that it is difficult to imagine any other actor playing the role with such sincerity and finesse. His facial expressions and body language, adding to his performance, are to die for. His dances are graceful as ever. Boman Irani shines once more and comes up trumps in the role of the wily politician, Bhau. He is exceptionally funny in the comic scenes and suitably vicious in the scenes of villainy. The scenes showing his frustration are also first-rate. Master Parth Shashank Bhalerao gives an award-winning performance and is a major highlight of the film. His acting will be a magnet for the kid audience. His ease in front of the camera and his style of dialogue delivery are just too terrific. Sanjay Mishra leaves a mark as advocate Gabdi. Usha Jadhav has her moments as Akhrot’s mother. She acts very well. Usha Nadkarni is endearing as the aware lady in the Dharavi constituency. Brijendra Kala, as Bhau’s aide, Lallan, impresses with his natural acting and makes his presence felt whenever he comes on the scene. Shah Rukh Khan greatly appeals in a special appearance. Ranbir Kapoor is also lovely in a special appearance. Anurag Kashyap is supremely natural in a special appearance. Anant Jog is pretty effective as the opposition party leader. Uday Shankar Lagoo is first-rate as the election officer. Santosh Darrne (as the token officer), Shankar Sachdev (as Shirke), Vijay Maurya (as the Rs. 300-crore project ghost), Kurush Deboo (as the psychiatrist), Kamlesh Tukaram Sawant (as the police inspector), Ajay Jadhav (as the police constable) and Subrat Dutta (as the engineer ghost) provide excellent support. Neeraj Sood (as the insurance officer), Mukesh Bhatt (as a ghost), Aakash Dahiya (as a ghost), Dhirendra Dwivedi (as Dheeraj), Pawan Mahendru (as the senior party leader), Owais (as the kid at the tea-stall), A.R. Manikandan (as the garbage officer of BMC), Sisir Kumar Asthana (as the BMC officer in charge of potholes) and Madhav Roy Kapur (as the BMC officer in the swimming pool) lend able support.
Nitesh Tiwari’s direction is splendid. He has made a topical film and laced it with a lot of humour and a dash of emotions too. He has also extracted great work from out of his actors. Music is a mixed bag. The ‘Party toh banti hai’ song (composed by Meet Bros. Anjjan and Palash Muchhal) is already a hit. The ‘Party with Bhoothnath’ song is also very well-tuned (by Honey Singh). The other songs (tuned by Ram Sampath) are okay. Lyrics (Kumaar, Honey Singh, Kunwar Juneja, Munna Dhiman, Nitesh Tiwari and Nikhil Mehrotra) are appropriate and go very well with the moods of the different songs. The picturisation of ‘Party toh banti hai’ (by Bosco-Caesar) is superb. Another song with eye-catching choreography (Bosco-Caesar) is the ‘Party with Bhoothnath’ song. Hitesh Sonik’s background music is lovely. Kamaljeet Negi’s cinematography is splendid. Wasiq Khan’s sets are nice. Kaushal-Moses’ action scenes are good. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing is crisp.
On the whole, Bhoothnath Returns is an entertaining film although it is slow and boring in parts. It has the potential to score on the strength of positive word of mouth. Its collections deserve to pick up but it is a fact that it has taken a very dull start because of absence of the youth factor in it and that is a major minus point as the first weekend is of paramount importance.