Okay, so we have one more 'kiddie film' hoping to catch the audience attention this Friday, after the watchable TOONPUR KA SUPERRHERO last week and the avoidable RAMAA - THE SAVIOUR a few weeks ago. I must confess, when I first glanced at the poster of BHOOT AND FRIENDS, I felt it would be an extension of BHOOT UNKLE . BHOOT UNKLE as well as BHOOT AND FRIENDS are produced by the same name [Aneesh Arjun Dev], feature the same actor as ghost [Jackie Shroff] and feature 'Bhoot' in their titles. Furthermore, both feature kids in pivotal parts. Quite a few similarities BHOOT AND FRIENDS, directed by Kittu Saluja [CHAIN KULII KI MAIN KULII; 2007], is extremely low on hype. In fact, the awareness is so minimal that you may not have heard of this one at all. And even if you've heard of it, chances are you may not be too willing to invest two hours of your precious life on this movie since kiddie films made in India, generally, haven't been successful in cutting across the entire spectrum of movie-going audience - from kids to grown-ups.
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As a film, BHOOT AND FRIENDS surprises you sporadically [the animation in the second half and the pre-climax, when the kids are thrown in a dark cave, are absorbing], but the problem lies in the fact that it uses the usual stunts and tricks [of kids throwing marbles and nails to make the villains slip on floor/road, kids combating an entire army of villains effortlessly etc.] and also corny and clichÃ©d jokes that look completely out of place in today's times. I am sure, even kids would find those portions ridiculously childish.
Raghav [Markand Soni], a school kid, visits his grand-mom with his friends Roma and Igloo. While enjoying their vacations, they accidentally get involved in hunting for a lost treasure, which is also being sought and hunted by a notorious villain [Ashwin Mushran]. The kids meet a ghost [Jackie Shroff] with magical powers. The mystery of the lost treasure has to be resolved to save human lives held captive by the villain.
Portions of Reshma A. Dev's story bear an uncanny resemblance to BHOOT UNKLE, but the screenplay writing of BHOOT AND FRIENDS is a shade better. In fact, the writer knows that a kiddie film ought to be packed with fun elements. But like I pointed out earlier, it isn't an exciting ride from start to end. Kittu Saluja's direction is better than his debut outing, but a better and tighter screenplay would've only made a big difference. On the plus side, the usage of animation [Jackie's flashback] and the adventurous finale [except when the kids combat the villain] elevate the film to an extent.
Kittu's choice of actors - the kids specifically - is perfect. Markand Soni and Ishita Panchal in particular are natural. The kid playing Igloo is okay. Jackie Shroff underplays his part beautifully. Ashwin Mushran looks convincing. Aditya Lakhia gets minimal scope. The villain's sidekicks are most irritating.
On the whole, BHOOT AND FRIENDS is decent in parts, but the problem is it isn't the type that would appeal to the kids completely, nor does it have those qualities that would appeal to the grown-ups. Besides, the lack of awareness will make the effort go unnoticed.