By Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Teaming two superstars [Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan] in your directorial debut is as good as impossible. Opting for a novel story -- the relationship between a spirit and a mortal -- is an equally big challenge. Really, it requires courage to make a film that defies the stereotype, yet is seeped in emotions that work with the Indian junta. Vivek Sharma's first outing BHOOTHNATH is a simple story, well told and that's why it works!
Aimed at kids between 6 and 60, BHOOTHNATH relies on the belief that has been passed on to us through generations: Aatma amar hain.
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Let's get a few things straight at the very outset. BHOOTHNATH is not an eerie experience [it does have a few moments though]. It's more of a kiddie film with a strong undercurrent of emotions. In fact, the bonding between the spirit and the kid makes you smile, even laugh at times and most importantly, makes you moist-eyed at two vital points of this 2.08 hour film.
One of the prime reasons why BHOOTHNATH works, besides the above-mentioned reasons, is due to the right casting. The story rests on two shoulders -- the experienced [Bachchan] and the raw talent [Aman Siddiqui] -- and both shoulder the responsibility beautifully, both compliment each other wonderfully well and make it a must-see experience.
You forget most films the moment you step out of the cineplex. But there're films that remain etched in your memory for their simplicity. BHOOTHNATH is one of those films. Go for it!
This is a story of a seven-year-old naughty yet innocent boy, who unknowingly turns a foe into a friend. This is a story of Banku [Aman Siddiqui] and his friend, Kailash Nath aka Bhoothnath [Amitabh Bachchan].
Banku's family [SRK, Juhi Chawla] comes to live in a mansion in Goa, considered haunted after the demise of the patriarch of the family. The spirit uses every rule in the book to scare the kid, but the kid is unaffected by it all. Slowly, a bond develops between the two. The story takes a turn when Kailash Nath's son [Priyanshu] decides to sell off the mansion.
Debutante director Vivek Sharma's fundas are clear. Emphasize on substance, not as much on style. 15 minutes into the film and you know that the director doesn't believe in Russian angles or fancy camera wizardry to create the spooky effect. Sure, BHOOTHNATH begins as a spooky fare, but changes lanes the moment the spirit and the kid become buddies.
For most parts, BHOOTHNATH is aimed at the kids. The portions in the classroom/school, the interaction with the school principal [Satish Shah], the game of one-upmanship between the kids brings the kid out of you.
Vivek Sharma reserves the best during the intermission point as also the climax. The unanticipated accident minutes before the intermission 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.
Any shortcoming? Oh yes! Vishal-Shekhar's music is outright tacky. Either the duo is disinterested or they've run out of stock already. This is the second film in a row [after TASHAN] where the music composers fail in their jobs. The film deserved a better musical score and also composers who have the range to exhibit their talent.
Director Vivek Sharma's choice of the subject as also his handling of a number of scenes deserves brownie points. Besides being a good storyteller, Vivek has also extracted a striking performance from the child artiste. The film would've fallen like a pack of cards if Bachchan would've performed and the kid wouldn't. Another aspect that deserves mention is visual effects. The effects gel beautifully with the goings-on. Cinematography is consistent.
BHOOTHNATH belongs to Amitabh Bachchan and Aman Siddiqui, both. Bachchan continues to surprise you in every film. Any other actor would've been exhausted by now. Not Bachchan. Here's another noteworthy performance by the master actor! The child artiste, Aman, is adorable and a complete natural as far as acting goes. He stands up to Bachchan at every step and that itself is worthy of the highest award.
SRK's there for a good 20/25 minutes. He's excellent. Juhi is first-rate. Satish Shah will be loved by the kids. Rajpal Yadav is wasted. Priyanshu leaves a strong impression in the latter reels. Aashish Chowdhary and Nauheed Cyrusi are okay.
On the whole, BHOOTHNATH is a well-told story that has all it takes to appeal to kids and kids at heart, besides striking a chord with the families. Has the merits and potential to end the dry spell at the box-office.