Bhoothnath is just a wee bit scary, amply funny, and more than generously melodramatic.
Seeing Amitabh Bachchan in those tattered clothes, ruffled hair and smudged face does delude you for a second into thinking that he is the bhatakti atmaa of Babban Singh (God forbid) from Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag , but the scary delusion is thankfully dispelled as you notice the wickedly funny streak in the ragged ghost of ‘Bhoothnath’. Yes, the spook makes you smile more than he scares. He also makes you moist eyed – at times a bit more than needed.
‘Bhoothnath’ tells the story of a ghost inside a swanky, neglected, uninhabited house in Goa. The ghost named Kedarnath is in limbo, and he won’t let anyone live inside the house, Nath Villa, to which his fond memories are attached. But then comes a family of Banku (Aman Sidiqqui), his kitchen-shy mom ( Juhi Chawla ) and slap-happy dad ( Shah Rukh Khan ) to live in the house.
The ghost has the plan of scaring the family away. But he runs into the notorious nine-year-old Banku who mistakes the ghost as an angel and befriends him.
Thereby begin the funny antics of Banku and Bhoothnath. With a mere flick of his finger, Bhoothnath is able to do magical feats, and more so willingly at Banku’s command.
The story seems to go in circles as the film focuses on the adventures of the kid and the ghost until Bhoothnath’s past catches up with him. Thereon, the tongue-in-cheek humour of the film wisps out of the plot and melodrama comes in, and the movie becomes a tearjerker, though just partly effective.
‘Bhoothnath’ works mainly in the first half, when it’s funny. Writer-director Vivek Sharma fumbles in the second half, when he obviously feels a necessity to give a definite direction to the plot and veers the story into heavy melodrama reminiscent of films like Baghban .
However, the ever-reliable shoulders of Amitabh Bachchan carry ‘Bhoothnath’ above its deficiencies for the most part. Though there is nothing exceptional about the performance from Big B’s set standards, his charming persona and his comic timing wins you over yet again for the umpteenth time.
Child artist Aman Sidiqqui is no Darsheel Safary but the chubby kid does manage to hold his place opposite the Big B. Juhi Chawla is delightful even when she is over the top. Shah Rukh Khan is good except when he is dramatic and teary-eyed. Priyanshu Chatterjee , as Kedarnath’s estranged son, gets his few moments of acting as well.
Coming from a director who boldly confesses to believing in angels at the movie’s outset, ‘Bhoothnath’ is a film that will particularly appeal to children. The movie’s songs are not distinctly catchy but they are not ear-sores either. The visual effects in the film are of good quality, save for a scene when Banku’s arm keeps stretching out to an unbelievable length to pull his friend out from a well.
If only the film also had such a helping hand to pull it out of the mire of weepy melodrama.