BHOOT RETURNS | 13 October, 2012

Eros International and Alumbra Entertainment’s Bhoot Returns (A; 3D) is the second film in the Bhoot series. A horror film, it is about a family and its encounter with a ghost.

Tarun (J.D. Chekravarthy) and Namrata (Manish Koirala) move into a new bungalow with their two little child­ren, Nimmi (Alayana Sharma) and Taman (Kushank). Nimmi finds a doll in the bungalow and takes a liking to it. She soon starts referring to an imaginary friend, Shabbo, whom, she claims, she can see. Others in the house can’t see Shabbo and are perplexed every time Nimmi says that Shabbo is with her. At first, they dismiss Nimmi’s claims as a figment of her imagination but then, the alarm bells start ringing. Strange sounds disturb Tarun and Namrata in the night. Even Tarun’s sister, Pooja (Madhu Shalini), who comes to stay with them, senses that something is amiss. The servant of the house, Laxman (Nitin Jadhav), warns his master that there might be a ghost around and that they should do a pooja to ward off the evil ghost.

The strange sounds continue. Stranger things happen. One night, Pooja’s hidden camera captures something which frightens the elders in the family. Laxman has also gone missing. Tarun, Namrata and Pooja are now convinced that the bungalow is inhabited by a ghost and decide to leave but they realise that Nimmi is missing!

The police is summoned. The police inspector (Bhaarat Ganesh­pure) does his investigation but that’s not of much help in locating Nimmi. Suddenly, the family realises that it has been trapped inside the bungalow.

What happens thereafter? Where is Nimmi? Does she re-surface? Has she been possessed by a ghost? Who is Shabbo whom she keeps referring to? Does Shabbo exist or is she only in Nimmi’s imagination? Or is Shabbo the ghost? Where has Laxman disappeared?

Ravi Shankar’s story is ordinary and offers no novelty. The screenplay concentrates on creating fear right through the drama. A good part of the film is devoted to the build-up of the ghost and only the climax has scenes of horror. In that sense, the audience loses patience even though the film has a running time of just 90 minutes. What is a major minus point of the shoddy screenplay is that the entire, repeat, entire drama is devoted to creating fear and showing the ghost’s antics as if nothing else happens in the lives of Tarun, Namrata, Pooja and the two kids. Since the entire film revolves around horror, the desperation of the writer and director to scare the viewers becomes obvious and actually irritates them. In other words, horror doesn’t become a part of the drama; it is rather the only drama. Even this may have worked had there been a lot of horror happening. But there are such few things shown happening that the audience tires of the repetitiveness of the incidents.

For some strange reason, the video, which is viewed on the laptop computer, throws up different images when Tarun and Namrata view it for the first time and when they view it again with the police inspector. In the first viewing, Nimmi is show playing with somebody invisible in the dark of the night. In the second viewing, there is an allusion to a ghost as some smoky figure is visible in the video. How the video changed is not even sought to be explained, showing the writer and director’s complete disregard for the intelligence of the viewers. Also, the film takes too long to come to the point – and soon after it does, it is over, leaving the audience dissatisfied.

No doubt, there are some frightening moments in the film but they are few and far between. Dialogues are routine.

J.D. Chekravarthy does a fine job of the perplexed and anxious father/husband. Manisha Koirala also acts very ably, expressing her fears and anxieties efficiently. Madhu Shalini provides some sex appeal and per­forms well. Baby Alayana Sharma is cute and acts well but gets limited scope in spite of being a central character. Master Kushank is fine in the limited scenes he has. Nitin Jadhav has his moments in the role of servant Laxman. Bhaarat Ganeshpure is effective as the investigating police officer.

Ram Gopal Varma’s direction is quite good but the same definitely cannot be said about his choice of subject because the content is rather weak. Sandeep Chowta’s background music is good but not extraordinary. Harshraj Shroff and M. Ravi­chandran Thevar’s cinematography is lovely. Javed-Aejaz’s action scenes are effective. The art direction department has sometimes placed properties on the set in a way that they dist­ract the audience. Sunil M. Wadhwani’s editing is proper. The 3D effects are nice.

On the whole, Bhoot Returns is not as thrilling and chilling as it should’ve been. Having taken a poor start, it cannot hope to do well at the box-office as word of mouth for it won’t be positive. Of course, it will not entail too much loss as its budget is limited and it has also been released in Tamil and Telugu.

Released on 12-10-’12 at Regal (daily 1 show), Inox (3D; daily 4 shows), Metro Big (3D; daily 4 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by Eros International. Publicity: good. Opening: poor. …….Also released all over. Opening was weak everywhere.