Ramgopal Varma, the maverick, is synonymous with ‘dark films’ [a terminology we often use in the industry]. Gangsters, underworld, crime, horror, supernatural… RGV has attempted it all. With BHOOT RETURNS, RGV revisits the horror genre yet again.
A quick clarification, before we proceed further. Is BHOOT RETURNS a sequel to RGV’s BHOOT? BHOOT RETURNS doesn’t continue from the first film. Also, the characters find themselves in altogether diverse circumstances. The sole similarity is that the house is haunted. In fact, the plot of BHOOT RETURNS bears a striking resemblance to the RGV-backed VAASTU SHASTRA [2004; Sushmita Sen, Chakravarthy], which was directed by Sourabh Usha Narang.
RAAT had its share of spine-chilling moments. BHOOT had moments that gave you goose bumps. PHOONK had its share of thrills and chills. With BHOOT RETURNS, RGV attempts to make the viewer break into a cold sweat, with 3D enhancing the shock element. More recently, Vikram Bhatt’s RAAZ 3 hit the right notes and if BHOOT RETURNS delivers, the trend of horror films in 3D would only get an impetus. Does RGV get it right? Unfortunately, he doesn’t!
The very first promo of BHOOT RETURNS generated tremendous curiosity, with a webcam capturing a kid playing with a shadowy creature [spirit?]. Immediately, comparisons were drawn with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, the most celebrated film in this category. But BHOOT RETURNS doesn’t take an identical route. Though RGV uses the mandatory props to scare you [the movement of the camera, the knocks and screams et al], BHOOT RETURNS fails to jolt you. Also, there’s hardly any grip in the screenplay. Even the 3D experience is non-happening. We had witnessed better results in HAUNTED and RAAZ 3, in the same genre.
Tarun [Chakravarthy] moves in with his family to a luxurious bungalow that he has acquired on a rather cheap rent. His wife Namrata’s [Manisha Koirala] curiosity over the seemingly low rent is quashed by their kids who readily approve of the new house. Soon, 10-year-old Taman and 6-year-old Nimmi find their own activities to do in the new house.
Taman spends his time on videogames and TV, whereas Nimmi spends her time exploring the various spaces of the house. During one such exploration, Nimmi finds a cute looking doll. Soon, after the discovery of the doll, Nimmi starts including ‘Shabbu’ in all her activities. The family mistakes Nimmi’s new doll to be Shabbu. But they are shocked as Nimmi introduces the doll as ‘Dolly’ and points at an empty space and introduces her invisible friend as Shabbu.
Soon, Tarun’s younger sister Pooja [Madhu Shalini] surprises the family by visiting them. As Tarun, Namrata and Pooja discuss Nimmi’s fixation over her imaginary friend Shabbu, the domestic help, Laxman, is sure of the presence of a spirit in Nimmi’s life. Each night at the bungalow seem to turn for the worse, all with knocks at unearthly hours, demonic sounds and eerie movements throughout the house.
Pooja installs cameras at various places in the house. The footage from these cameras is proof enough for the already disturbed Namrata to take a decision to vacate the house. The otherwise cool-headed Tarun’s mind starts reeling as he sees the captured footage. The family finally decides to vacate the house. But Nimmi goes missing…
Let’s not compare BHOOT RETURNS with the Hollywood inspirations. But when one compares it with RGV’s own creations [RAAT, BHOOT and PHOONK], one realizes BHOOT RETURNS ranks lowest on the list. After raising the bar of horror films with BHOOT, RGV lets you down badly this time.
RGV teases the moviegoer at regular intervals. Silence and stillness can create a stronger impact than frenzied, furiously fast-cutting frames or out of control effects. In BHOOT RETURNS, the scenes remain silent… then you get a jolt out of the blue, but the problem is that there’s too much waiting, which makes you fidgety after a point. The concluding moments also lack originality, while the final sequence seems ludicrous.
Sandeep Chowta’s background score helps resurrect several ordinary sequences, which, otherwise, would’ve fallen flat. Cinematography is uninspiring, while the technology [3D] hasn’t been utilized to the maximum.
There’s not much scope for histrionics here! Manisha handles her part with ease. Chakravarthy is monotonous. Madhu Shalini catches your attention with a fine act. The child artist, Alayna, looks adorable, but is far from convincing in the concluding stages.
On the whole, BHOOT RETURNS is amongst RGV’s weakest films!