As a storyteller, Satish Kaushik has never stuck to any particular genre. In addition, he has helmed several remakes over the years, achieving varying degrees of success. His latest outing GANG OF GHOSTS is a remake as well, that of the immensely-liked and successful Bengali film BHOOTER BHABISHYAT .
While films involving ghosts/spirits fall into the horror genre, with spooky and blood-curdling episodes out to scare the living daylights out of you, GANG OF GHOSTS does a somersault. This one's a comedy with an imaginative premise and wacky characters. While the original [Bengali] film could've veered into the outrageous zone, its director [Anik Dutta] made sure the humor was subtle, the ghosts -- from diverse strata and era [projected as 'endangered species'] -- were lovable and the film successfully exposed the greedy real-estate sharks who'd raze structures to make way for shopping malls and multiplexes. The onus, therefore, falls upon Satish Kaushik to deliver ample laughs in the Hindi remake, besides punctuating the screenplay with a subtle message for the pan-India audience. Does Satish Kaushik remain faithful to BHOOTER BHABISHYAT, which skillfully passed on a vital message, yet eyed the commercial cinema-loving spectator? Does GANG OF GHOSTS deliver as a stand-alone film?
Let's enlighten you about the premise of GANG OF GHOSTS. The grand old mansions and mills of South Mumbai are being razed to make way for swanky condominiums, malls and multiplexes. Some of these dilapidated buildings were haunted by ghosts. They were evicted and are homeless today. There is no rehabilitation package on offer. Politicians, media, intellectuals, the common man -- no one gives a damn to them. After all, ghosts can't vote.
Royal Mansion is one such heritage property, which is rented out for film shoots to facilitate its maintenance. A heroine faints during a film shoot, allegedly sighting a ghost in the mirror. A film-maker [Parambrata], on a recce of the mansion, gets to hear a spooky tale by an aspiring writer [Sharman Joshi] revolving around the house. But is it just a tall tale or is there a twist to it?
Comedy is serious business and the storyteller ought to ensure that the audience reacts to the comic lines/punches as they unfurl on screen. Much like the original, GANG OF GHOSTS highlights the gluttony of the land-sharks to multiply their money, but, sadly, much is lost in translation. Reason being, Satish Kaushik is unable to retain the qualities that made the original film work. Sure, the cinematic sensibilities are different, but the film ought to keep you transfixed from commencement to conclusion. GANG OF GHOSTS is funny in parts and the zany moments do make you smile occasionally [except for the jokes on flatulence], but, alas, the genuinely funny sequences are few and far between, while the grip loosens at periodic intervals. The film turns captivating towards the closing stages -- the penultimate 15 odd minutes hold your attention -- but it's too late for damage control.
Additionally, what weighs down GANG OF GHOSTS is its soundtrack. Actually, there's an overdose of songs -- in the second half specifically -- and what adds to the woes is that the tunes are lackluster. Since the Jains, who have produced the film [with Satish], have a music label and a knack for choosing melodies, the tracks should've been easy on the ears.
The DoP brings to fore the bygone era effectively, while the dialogue are smart, witty and amusing at most times.
Anupam Kher dominates the show with a super act, more so towards the finale, when he delivers a poignant speech. Sharman Joshi, synonymous with natural performances, gets his act spot-on. Parambrata, who gets to portray the same part in the Hindi version as well, is in fine form. Saurabh Shukla is first-rate. Mahie Gill brings back memories of the bygone era with her accomplished act. She's simply excellent! Meera Chopra looks unrehearsed to get her act right. Vijay Verma looks his part, but doesn't get ample scope. Jackie Shroff is typecast as a 'Bhai' for the umpteenth time.
Chunkey Pandey, Yashpal Sharma, Asrani, Rajpal Yadav, Rajesh Khattar and J. Brandon Hill are adequate in their respective characters.
On the whole, GANG OF GHOSTS offers laughs, but only in bits and spurts. It's disheartening to watch a wonderful concept go awry!