Reviewing the Reviews: Overall appreciation for Bhootnath Returns

14 Apr,2014

Bhootnath Returns

Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari

Starring: Parth Bhalerao, Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, Anurag Kashyap, Usha Jadhav, Sanjay Mishra, Brijendra Kala & Usha Nadkarni


By Deepa Gahlot


The timing of Nitesh Tiwrai’s Bhootnath Returns is perfect. At election time, the film makes a case for voting, and that too for the right candidate.


The idea of a ghost standing for elections against  Dharavi goon has delicious possibilities, which, most critics felt, degenerated into preachiness.  The ratings went from 2.5 to 3.5 which means overall appreciation.


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express complained, “The whole is less than the sum of its parts. The pace slackens, the ghost-and-boy rap begins to drag, and there are far too many threads hanging – a Harry Potteresque compact between ‘bhootlings’ and earthlings, and a clean-the-system-of-all-ills-romp, overlaid with some weepiness and an item-song-in-the-slums full of blonde babes dancing alongside the Big B and the small boy.”


Aniruddha Guha of Time Out is kinder. “A ghost contesting elections? Such a silly plot, you say. But when it’s Bachchan – the granddaddy of all things larger-than-life – you buy in with gleeful joy and little effort. If anything, it’s a smart idea, one that also reflects the current mood in the nation. However, Bhootnath Returns could have benefitted immensely from some judicious snipping. As on most occasions, though, watch this one for Bachchan and that indefatigable spirit.”


Tushar Joshi of DNA wrote, “While the idea might be interesting, the execution is quite weak. Tiwari stretches out the plot way too much weighing it down with multiple subplots, characters and unnecessary long drawn monologues. The Sahib song with images depicting the dark side of society could have been a passing reference, instead it ruptures whatever momentum the film had built till that point. Similarly the second half is a mine field laden with over the top speeches about election and the importance of voting. Even though the sentiment is sincere the effort taken to convey it to the audience sounds dated and old. Also the scenes with the Ghost Headquarters in the climax and the predictable conclusion the film comes to, prevents Bhootnath Returns from rising above the ordinary.”


Saibal Chatterjee agreed with the majority opinion. “The film’s good intentions and the generally competent and controlled execution are marred by a screenplay riddled with inconsistencies. For one, Bhoothnath Returns, directed and co-written by Nitesh Tiwari, is overlong and overstretched. It labours its point about the plight of the poor and the voiceless with the kind of unconcealed zeal that not only robs it of any possibility of achieving subtlety, but also smacks of the hollowness of an election time speech. The film’s unusual plot premise loses its zing rather quickly as it turns increasingly ludicrous and sanctimonious in its naïve tirade against a whole array of ills that plague the country. The final quarter of Bhoothnath Returns could well be passed off as an Election Commission of India video exhorting people to exercise their franchise and overthrow the corrupt.”


Rajeev Masand of IBNLive appreciated the film’s heart. “The film’s good bits, however, often feel squashed under the weight of its melodrama and its bloated running time of 2 hours and 35 minutes. There is some lofty sermonizing by at least two different characters, and an over-manipulative song-montage of abject poverty that attempts to squeeze a lump out of your throat.


I will also say that depicting violence against children to appeal to one’s emotions is wrong on so many levels. Still, “Bhoothnath Returns” is anchored by terrific performances from its central players: Boman Irani, Amitabh Bachchan, and the surprise packet that is Parth Bhalerao.”


Suprateek Chatterjee writing in commented, “For the most part, barring perhaps the last half hour of the film, its most shamelessly manipulative moments are tempered with deliberate humour. What’s heartening about this film is that it seems to be fully aware that it is being presented as an ‘election product’, and it seems to take that in its stride and play it as its strength. Talk about shrewd politics.”


Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu wrote, “While it’s a relevant film this season that also educates the masses on the importance of casting their vote, Bhoothnath Returns is far from perfect. It almost forgets Akhrot in the second half and turns the little hero into Bhoothnath’s sidekick. It is simplistic, idealistic, probably even naive to assume that the victory of one independent candidate could bring around change. It doesn’t want the political reality of India come in the way of a good Bollywood story, but interrupts the flow with a documentary montage of what India has become to illustrate the headlines.”



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