Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Shiney Ahuja, Amisha Patel
Gawk, it must be the world’s largest lock. Quickly, a locksmith bakes a nice, thin, long key. And presto, the door opens up to reveal a chamber of ghungroos, paan daans, and very awful paintings of a king fatter than Adnan Sami (before weight loss) and a courtesan whose hips are in a twist. With destiny she has to keep a tryst.
Ultra-tragically that poor ironsmith dies. So does your interest in Priyadarshan’s umpteenth creation, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, which may or may not have been adapted from a Malayalam, Telugu or a Tamil hit.
That hardly matters because it keeps breaking into a yaargh-yikes-cripes fit, till you wonder if it’s a comedy, horrorfest or tragedy. An Exorcist? Entity? Hungama? Bungama? Now should you be tittering, shuddering, or sobbing? With this mixed-genre malarkey, you just can’t tell. Oh well.
<b1>Honestly, you do try your darndest to connect with Priyadarshan’s potty-pourri. After all, his shot takings are admirable supplemented with loads of moody colour and lighting and the set designs are out of a heritage preservation catalogue. Plus his regular supporting players – Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav – do guarantee a guffaw or two. Unarguably, the director is a marvellous craftsman. But man oh man, the storytelling is as mumbo as a jiving jumbo.
Pray, what’s going yawn? At the outset, for a lengthy reel you’re locked into a village panchayat speechlet on Hindi and English lingusitics (cricket is translated as something-something-dhan-dhana-dhan!). Asrani faints in a spooky medium-budget haveli, and thousands of elderly men and women whisper on about ghosts-‘n’- ghouls till you fall asleep with your eyes open like an owl’s. Scowl.
Then arrive NRI freshly-wedded couple (Shiney Ahuja-Vidya Balan). He’s a maharaja of sorts. So, a dormouse plays a piano in his haveli, a cat does a nach baliye under a basket, a kitchenmaid bites her lips till yours bleed. And hello, a jilted girl (Ameesha Patel, wasted ) with Rapunzel hair is described as walnuts-`n’-pistachios. Insane.
Nearly an hour of the 16-reeler’s over.. and no Akshay Kumar yet? Mercifully, he jets in from America (where else?) to become an interpreter of maladies. A psychiatrist, tantric, hypnotist, joke craker, he takes over the hellish haveli, discovers
a poison in tea and sets off toilet gags (literally). Meanwhile, the script continues with its tiresome red herrings and interlewds like a discussion on a man’s ‘
. Get the crude-o drift?
To be absolutely fair, the denouement’s twist in the plot had dramatic potential. Alas, it’s resolved through a climax that pulls an exorcist (Vikram Gokhale, mega-serious) like a bunny from a hat. Indeed, from a Mahal-Madhumati-like atmosphere, you’re suddenly into a dance-a-thon straight out of those Amrapali costume epics of yore.. with those flashy kings, twirling courtesans and talwar-cut moustaches. Bore.
On the positive side, Pritam’s music score is a zinger (disappointingly the best track Hare Krishna is just an add-on to the end credit titles). The cinematography and production design are A-grade.
Of the cast, could someone quickly muzzle the hysterical termagant, Rasika Joshi, and fast? Shiney Ahuja isn’t in his element – why those out-of-sync outbursts of rage? Vidya Balan is no dancer for sure.. but otherwise, she’s bankably likeable. Clearly, Akshay Kumar is the best of the lot, enlivening the scene with his hang-loose spontaneity.
Moral of the story: Bhool Jaao Bhulaiyaa.