In Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship, debutant director Bhanu Pratap Singh tackles the horror genre with utmost care. Viewers will be struck by the simplicity of the film, its incredible fluidity: the story flows naturally, naturally. The story is not very complicated. Undoubtedly, the film is well constructed, superbly designed and filmed with sometimes a lot of indulgences. The film's decorations are magnificent and the camera embraces them greedily. To be honest, Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship is no masterpiece but is atmospheric, spooky, bloodless and carried by strong acting.
Debutant director Bhanu Pratap Singh defies several 'rules' of Hindi cinema, like:
a) Bhanu Pratap Singh has done away with the mandatory song-dance sequences in Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship. In fact, the film has *only* one romantic ballad.
b) There are no 'light moments' or 'relief factors' in the film. In fact, the film is so content-driven that one hardly longs for any 'relief' or 'light moments'.
c) The intimacy between the couple is more mature, unlike the routine stuff.
Also, one of the USPs of this 1 hour, 57 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. When the ghost appears, you get a shock of your life. The impact is eerie. Yet, Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship doesn't leave you completely enchanted or spellbound. The feelings are mixed after the show concludes. You have witnessed all this (and more) and that's where the film falls short of expectations.
The horror genre hasn't been tapped to the fullest in India. What works in favour of Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship is the fact that first-time director Bhanu Pratap Singh chooses a real-life story and garnishes it with scares aplenty. It works with those with an appetite for horror films and also with those who seek for interesting concepts. The film is terrifying enough to make you jump on your seat. The movie teases the viewers at different points as the sequence of events unravel. Scenes remain silent and still; not for long though, but long enough to make you fret. There are ample blood-curdling moments. But the problem with the film is that it takes a lot of screen time to drive home the point, testing the patience of the viewer in the process. Some sequences are so long drawn that they mellow the impact that a few brilliantly executed sequences had created. Even the climax - so vital in a film of this genre - is a downer. It is bound to have its share of adversaries. And the finale - which leaves behind the scope for a sequel, may not be fully absorbed or gel well with the orthodox Indian moviegoer.
Also, the film stagnates for a few minutes in the post-interval portions. Though the film is short in duration, one still feels that things could've been spruced up towards the middle of the second half (editing: Bodhaditya Banarjee). Bhanu Pratap Singh shows a grasp over technique, with the lighting and camera movements contributing enormously in making the situations look eerie. But the writing is not at all convincing.
Three aces of the film are Anish John's sound effects, Aditya Kanwar's apt production design (especially the set of the ship) and Ketan Sodha's background score. They are of international quality. In fact, sound plays a major role in a film like this and director Bhanu Pratap Singh has ensured that the sound quality is superior. It's more than just throbbing music, digitized screams and high-pitched shrieks. Pushkar Singh's cinematography is appropriate. The eerie atmosphere of the ship has been captured very well by the DOP. Special effects by Redefine are amongst the best we've seen in Hindi movies. Also, Bhanu Pratap Singh's storytelling is super-stylish. Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship must've been quite a challenge for Bhanu Pratap Singh from the writing point of view as well.
The performances are of a high order. Vicky Kaushal enacts a role that is in sharp contrast to his image. He portrays the character remarkably. The actor delivers a striking performance yet again. Bhumi Pednekar is superb in her role, proving yet again that she's a dependable performer. Ashutosh Rana is extremely competent. Akash Dhar leaves an impression. Meher Vij and Sanjay Gurbaxani are passable.
On the whole, Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship does the job of scaring you half-heartedly. At the box-office, the film has chances of faring better at multiplexes of metros. A good idea gone horribly wrong! Disappointing!