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‘Bhoot Police’ movie review: A Pair of Indian Ghostbusters Try and Unravel Paranormal Mysteries

Modified On: 14 September 2021 | Reviewed By:

Bhooth Police is a horror-comedy that literally tells us to push logic into a corner and take a ride that is mostly amusing, mildly frightening. This movie, the tale of two ghost hunters, addresses the family audience, has the 'Stree' kind of storytelling, comes across as a stress buster during the pandemic.

Bhoot Police

Director: Pawan Kripalani | Music Director:

Bhoot Police Movie Poster

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Usually, such fare expects the audience to believe in the mumbo jumbo but director Pavan Kripalani, who has established himself as a kind of spook specialist, teams up with writers Devashish Makhija and Sumit Bakheja to create a universe where one of the two lead protagonists prides in selling superstition to the believers. It provides an opportunity to consistently mock the genre even as they tell the story of a spirit on the prowl.

Bhoot Police is a story of two brothers. Their father was a renowned occultist, Ullat Baba (Saurabh Sachdeva), who died when the boys were small. As adults, they’ve carried forward the family legacy, running an exorcism venture named Ullat Baba and Sons, A to Z Totka Centre. The younger brother, Chiraunji (Arjun Kapoor), is sincere and ambitious, hoping to do some impressive paranormal investigation. But the elder one, Vibhooti (Saif Ali Khan), is cunning and deceitful, who doesn’t believe in ghosts. He is suspicious of his father’s reputation, too. This yin-yang nature of the brothers complements this similarly bi-polar movie, a horror-comedy. the comedy dominates the horror in this film to a large extent and that it’s a self-aware piece that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

When the brothers are at a ghost carnival, a young woman, Maya (Yami Gautam), requests them to solve a 27-year-old case left unfinished by their father. Her tea estate, near Dharamshala, has been haunted by a ghost named Kichkandi. And just like that, they’re off with her in their van. Like this convenient plot turn, Vibhooti and Chiraunji, who live in what looks like Rajasthan, have no convincing reason to talk in a strange Bihari accent. Khan’s diction is particularly laboured. He doesn’t sound – or sometimes look – the part: love is “lau”, emotion is “emosan”, fraud is “phraud”, the same old Bollywood Bhojpuri.

The rest of the film is set in that tea estate, where the brothers meet Maya’s sister, Kanika (Jacqueline Fernandez), the property manager, Hari (Amit Mistry), and the villagers. Unlike Maya, Kanika is rude to Vibhooti and Chiraunji, and wants to sell the estate and move to London. Devoid of jokes for some time in the middle, Bhoot Police goes through a period of indifferent filmmaking. For instance, the initial plot twist – the identity of the ghost – is very easy to spot (and I’m not even good at such things).

Be it the fair of occultists or the ghost’s movement in the woods, Mr. Kripalani’s strands of comedy and horror feed each other. The imaginative use of the song Kyun Ho Gaya Na number “Aao Naa” by a villager to help her husband in taking a dump on a dreadful night is one of the highlights.

The casting is spot on. Saif Ali Khan effortlessly doles out one punch after the other. It is his pitch-perfect performance that makes the writing livelier. Arjun Kapoor fits the part of the brooding brother looking to find his mojo. So does Jacqueline as the glamorous social media influencer who wants to shift to London. Jaaved Jaaferi and Jamie Lever’s comic timing add to the mirthful atmosphere.

The film doesn’t adopt sophisticated storytelling tools at crucial times – we get the main backstory in an expositional heap, instead of a slow and intriguing unravel – but Kripalani’s commitment towards finding a new film within a stale set-up makes Bhoot Police fascinating and surprising. Khan and Kapoor make an unlikely pair, and they complement each other’s contrasting energies. But the actresses, or the reliable Mistry, don’t have much to do. A little girl, present in few short scenes before, becomes central to the story. She is mute, her name is Titliya, and Vibhooti sees her randomly and strikes conversations with her. It’s only when he starts figuring out the missing pieces, and begins believing in ghosts, that this movie takes an unexpectedly poignant turn. In a film about ghosts and ghostbusters, the show stealer turns out to be a little girl – and she does so without a line of dialogue.

(Bhoot Police is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar)

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