176352 Taran Adarsh

Bhoot Review by Taran Adarsh

3.5

Flashback 1960s �

Horror films in Hindi cinema have been presented in a routine fashion over the years. The sound of the door, the owl on a tree, the pitch-dark night, the blowing of the wind, the soft movement of curtains, the lights going off�

Flashback 1970s �

The Ramsays redefine the genre. The skull in the verandah, the dead body being buried in the backyard, the aatma resurfacing to avenge the murder, the scar-faced ghost�

Nothing of the sort happens in BHOOT, directed by Ram Gopal Varma. BHOOT is atmospheric, spooky, bloodless and carried by strong acting and fleshed out characters.

Dream Merchants Enterprise's BHOOT is an urban supernatural thriller set in Mumbai city.

Vishal [Ajay Devgan], a stock analyst, is in search for a flat for his wife Swati [Urmila Matondkar] and him. He finds the perfect place on the 12th floor of a tall apartment building.

The flat has a problem� the previous occupant, a young woman, had plunged to her death from the balcony. But a non-superstitious Vishal does not let this affect his decision to shift in. He just neglects to inform Swati about this.

Eventually, Swati finds out about the young woman's death. She starts losing sleep over it. She begins to see things. She gets distressed. What Vishal thinks is a psychological problem begins to unravel into the unexplainable. He becomes helpless.

In a fight to save Swati, Vishal will have to reach out into the horrifying and discover the truth.

RGV defies several 'rules' of Hindi cinema, like �

Rule 1: Hindi films are incomplete without songs.

RGV has done away with the mandatory song-dance sequences in BHOOT. In fact, the film has no songs at all and one doesn't miss songs in an enterprise like this.

Rule 2: The makers need to intersperse comedy with the intense portions to balance the proceedings and provide 'relief' to the viewer.

There're no 'light moments' or 'relief factors' in the film. In fact, the film is so very content-driven that one hardly longs for any 'relief' or 'light moments'.

Rule 3: The hero has to romance the heroine, otherwise the romantic track looks incomplete.

The romantic track exists, but has been treated differently. The intimacy between the couple is more mature, unlike the routine stuff.

Rule 4: Matching the star cast with heavy production values is a must. Foreign locations/grand sets enhance the look of the film.

One of the USPs of this 1 hour, 59 minutes' film is that the story is set in the middle of the city. There's tremendous identification with the goings-on, with every character looking believable. The desire to watch breath-taking visuals does not surface in a film like this.

The first time the ghost appears, you get a shock of your life. And then the ghost comes face to face with Urmila Matondkar. The impact is eerie. So strong is the impact that the sequence stays with you even after the show has ended and you've retired to bed.

The murder at the interval point raises the expectations from the second half. Post-interval, more characters are introduced � Nana Patekar [who comes a scene before the intermission!], Rekha, Tanuja, Fardeen Khan, Victor Banerjee� and the reasons that prompted the ghost to haunt the house are unveiled.

The sequences thereafter, right till the climax, have a nail-biting effect. It keeps you on the edge all the while.

RGV is in complete form this time around. Undoubtedly one of the best makers in India today, RGV proves yet again that he has the guts to take the untrodden path and come up with awe-inspiringly different stuff. The director's contribution looms large in every frame.

However, the only 'flaw' if any is its climax. This is one aspect that may not find complete acceptance from a section of the audience that doesn't believe in the supernatural.

Writers Sameer Sharma and Lalit Marathe have developed a complex subject with dexterity. Identification with the story is a major asset of the film. From the screenplay point of view, the story moves on a singular track all through, without deviating into unwanted tracks. It's refreshingly different from the formula-ridden stuff.

Two more aces of the film are Dwarak Warrier's sound effects and Salim-Sulaiman's background score. Both are of international quality. In fact, sound plays a major role in a film like this and RGV has ensured that the sound quality is superior. Vishal Sinha's cinematography is appropriate.

The performances are of a high order. Ajay Devgan enacts a role that is in sharp contrast to his action image � he plays a helpless husband remarkably. Nana Patekar is extremely competent as the tough-talking cop. Rekha is superb in her role, while Fardeen Khan [neighbour] registers an impact in a small but significant role.

Tanuja [mother] proves yet again that she's a dependable performer. Victor Banerjee [psychiatrist] is first-rate. Ditto for Seema Biswas [house maid], whose performance adds to the mystery.

But the film clearly belongs to Urmila Matondkar all the way. To state that she is excellent would be doing gross injustice to her work. Sequences when she is possessed are simply astounding. If this performance doesn't deserve an award, no other performance should. It beats all competition hollow.

On the whole, BHOOT is a richly rewarding experience for the discerning horror fan. It has thrills and chills to entice, excite and scare the viewer. At the box-office, the film should prove to be a winner all the way. Business at multiplexes will prove to be the best.

Bhoot 3.5 Taran Adarsh 20030528