Bhoothnath Returns is utterly entertaining and yet manages to deliver a nuanced social message. When you sit down to watch Nitesh Tiwari's directorial venture, you are reminded of a certain Rajkumar Hirani and his brand of highly lovable and highly relevant cinema.
Amitabh Bachchan-Parth Bhalero-starrer Bhoothnath Returns is the story of Bhoothnath (Amitabh) who is humiliated in the 'Bhoothland' for not being able to scare away kids. While seeking his next birth as a man, Bhoothnath is asked to prove his credibility as a ghost first, and he takes on the challenge. The film tracks his journey on Earth and how instead of scaring away kids, he finds a new kiddie friend, Akhrot. He then goes on to rescue his friend, and India.
Targetted primarily at children, the film serves the purpose -- it is entertaining and sends across a simple message in a hard-hitting manner. It also gets its viewership right – if we want to bring about change, children need to be its harbingers.
The film contains subtle yet strong messages on the responsibility of an individual as a citizen. Before you start blaming the system for your sufferings, you should do your duties. Amitabh Bachchan puts this in a very interesting manner in the film, "Jo vote nahi dete wo apni awaz logon tak pahuchana nahi chahte. To hum bhi unki awaz nahi sunana chahte."
After saying that during a speech as a candidate fighting elections, Amitabh refuses to listen to a man from the crowd who says that he does not have a voters' ID.
And there's a new revolution in the film's world, one that is termed as 'India's first non-cooperation movement since Independence' by a news channel, everyone pretends they cannot listen to people with no voters' ID.
Parth, who makes his Bollywood debut with Bhoothnath, is brilliant. He shares the screen space with Big B throughout the film and manages to outshine the superstar. Parth is best known for Marathi film Khalti Doka Varti Paay, which was screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
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There are several sequences where Amitabh and Parth are doing the same things, same body language, exact dialogues and Parth emerges the clear winner.
Talking about Parth, Big B had earlier said in an interview, "Parth, who plays the little boy in Bhoothnath Returns is a commensurate performer, a mature artist and the hero of the film. Even seasoned professionals sometimes are unable to convincingly go through the gamut of emotions that this boy has in BR. He is an exceptional young man."
Amitabh is his usual self, having fun with kids the way only he can do it - complete dhamaal. Boman Irani is back in his gunda-neta avatar, and he totally nails the act.
Other actors who really stand out are Usha Jhadav (Akhrot's mom) and Sanjay Mishra (Bhoothnath's lawyer).
Nitesh has packaged quite a few surprises in his second directorial venture (this is his second film after Chillar Party). While Shah Rukh Khan (Bhampu's dad from Bhoothnath) reprises his role, Ranbir Kapoor plays himself in a guest role.
Another surprise is Anurag Kashyap. When Amitabh and Partho decide that they need some revolutionary lyrics that the public can enjoy, they approach Anurag. The filmmaker plays a wonderfully amused director, unsure of what to say and where to see (he cannot see Bhoothnath). Amitabh talks about how Anurag is unhappy with the system and he should tone down on the adult-quotient of the song he writes!
The second half of the film, however, may be a little preachy and boring for the kids. Nitesh, nonetheless deserves a round of applause for sending across a relevant message packaged in complete entertainment.
Only, we wish it was released a week earlier, before the country went to polls.