Bhoothnath Returns stays loyal to its predecessor, Bhoothnath, only till the interval. The first half unfolds like a fun fantasy for children, wherein a ghost, Bhoothnath (Amitabh Bachchan), who has been unable to scare a child, returns to redeem himself by trying to scare 10-20 more. Instead, the “satyug ka bhoot” ends up getting scared by “kalyug ke bachche”, the kind who’d call out for a ghost to do their homework. But he does get close to Akhrot (Parth), a poor Dharavi child, and through him gets involved with the problems of the country to eventually fight the election against a corrupt politician.
In the middle, the film takes a definite turn to become a political fantasy with a touch of Raj Kumar Hirani. There is some crisp dialogue and wordplay thrown in. Every possible problem facing the nation gets talked about in the process and many a lesson is given, implicit as well as in your face. From here, Bhoothnath Returns moves on to being an advertisement for the Election Commission, exhorting people to vote. And finally, Bhoothnath Returns becomes a political fable of sorts wherein the past (ghost) and the future (child) of the country get pitched as the last hope, the only ones who can still make us believe in what Sahir Ludhianvi said years ago: “Woh subah kabhi to aayegi”. Here it becomes “har bachche ko sapne ka adhikar milna chahiye”.
The film’s structure gets lopsided, the second half is uneven and overstretched, and often the director ends up overstating his good intentions. However, even though Bhoothnath Returns may sorely try your patience, at the same time it does make eminent sense too. What helps is a whole team of good actors. Even the smaller roles are played by some accomplished names: Sanjay Mishra, Gajraj Rao and Brajendra Kala. In fact, it’s the walk-on appearances of SRK, Ranbir and Anurag Kashyap that seem to serve no purpose. Big B shares wonderful energy with the little Parth. The two together are quite a house on fire. In fact, Big B seems to step back indulgently to let the little one, who is quite a charmer and a talented actor, take centrestage.
The film’s dream of seeing 85 per cent of Mumbai and 95 per cent of Dharavi step out to vote may be a bit too hard to imagine but then Gurgaon, Muzaffarnagar and the Northeast recently have also shown that people do repose their trust in ballot power.
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