Synopsis – A casual encounter between two strangers, Ruhaan and Reet, sends them to visit Reet’s hometown in Rajasthan, where they uncover an old secret that results in terror.
My Take – Released at the height of the filmmaker Priyadarshan and Akshay Kumar team ups, 2007’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa, a remake of the 1993 Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu, was instant success upon release, both critically and commercially. Garnering praise and appreciation from all over for its story, humor, music and performances, especially that of Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan. Attaining somewhat of a cult status over the years.
Keeping with tradition of most Hindi film sequels, this one too, which releases 15 years later, is completely standalone. Barring a few elements like the return of Rajpal Yadav‘s character Chota Pandit, the antagonist still named Manjulika, and the retention of the background score and two tracks, the film has almost nothing in common with the original. It even lets go the earlier film’s psychological thriller elements in order to straight up embrace its supernatural roots.
But most surprisingly, director Anees Bazmee (No Entry, Welcome) and writers Farhad Samji (Bachchan Pandey, Housefull 4) and Aakash Kaushik, don’t succumb to pressures of comparisons. Relying heavily on Kartik Aaryan’s newly-minted star power, irresistible charm and energy for spirit, swag, and comedy to deliver, the film manages to successfully hold its own.
Sure, the story is flawed, and seems to drag a little in the climax, but backed by director Anees Bazmee‘s strong hold over elements of thrill, humor and jump scares, the film decently manages to keep viewers at the edge of the seats for its entire run time of 145 minutes.
The story follows Ruhan Randhawa (Kartik Aaryan), an unemployed wanderlust belonging to a affluent family, who on one of his trips finds himself immediately attracted to Reet Thakur (Kiara Advani), a medical student, who is on her way back from Manali to her hometown in Rajasthan to get married. Luck plays its hand when the two manage to get off the bus which eventually meets with an accident and has no survivors. But upon finding out that her cousin Trisha (Mahek Manwani) is in love with her fiancee, Reet devises a plan to pretend to play dead till everyone gets over the shock of her death and get them married.
Though the two head over to hide in her family’s abandoned mansion, upon discovery, Ruhan ends up pretending to be psychic who can speak to ghosts, including that of Reet, and convinces her family, including her father (Milind Gunaji) and sister-in-law (Tabu), to re-shift there. Little do they know that Manjulika, a malevolent spirit who has been locked away in the mansion for the past 18 years has been waiting to begin her reign of terror once again.
Like its predecessor, the first half is focused mainly on the comedy elements, haphazardly stitched together, but working with tandem of the expected comedy genre. By reputation, director Anees Bazmee is known for his comedy films like No Entry (2005), Welcome (2007), Singh Is Kinng (2008), Welcome Back (2015) among others, and here too, he showcases his strong hold on the genre on the genre.
Investing heavily in physical and situational comedies along with witty dialogues, quick humor and expressionism, the film is hilarious throughout, with the occasional miss here and there. Catering to the kind of family comedies which were popular a decade ago. All the while also scoring on the nostalgia factor.
It’s only in the second half where the real plot points come into play and slowly raising up the tension and bringing in the horror factors into the mix. Thankfully director Bazmee never resorts to jump scares, but instead continuously works on building a menacing atmosphere to keep his viewers engaged and glued. For instance, a puzzle sequence that stays true to the title of the film.
Sure, the climax twist isn’t unique and drags on for too long, but at least it is handled skillfully, never coming off as a disappointment for those who would have seen it coming. The film doesn’t bore, nor does it leave one in absolute awe of it either. It cracks you up quite often and sometimes makes you question the logic of it all. But in the end, it’s a family entertainer that just wants to make you laugh.
Performance wise, Kartik Aaryan gets ample scope to show his acting chops, dancing skills, comic timing, and doesn’t disappoint one bit. Although it would be criminal to compare him to Akshay Kumar, Kartik manages to hold his own. Despite his Ruhan being a completely different character, there are shades, definitely some inspiration from Kumar‘s Dr. Aditya “Adi” Shrivastav and that’s where he shines the brightest. Nope, not because his touch to the character is any less, but because of how under the high pressure of comparison he flourishes and creates pure entertainment.
Kiara Advani as always looks gorgeous in each frame. Though she isn’t given much to do here, Kiara keeps up charm, holding her own despite a slightly under-cooked part. However, the film belongs to Tabu, who gets the meatiest role, serving as the catalyst of the plot. Showcasing her experience and relevance in every scene she appears in.
In supporting roles, Sanjay Mishra, Rajpal Yadav, Ashwini Kalsekar, Rajesh Sharma and young actor Samarth Chauhan bring in the laughs, while Milind Gunanji, Govind Namdeo, Amar Upadhyay and Mahek Manwani stick to the background. On the whole, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ is a decent horror comedy that delivers efficient thrills, chills and laugh out loud moments.
Directed – Anees Bazmee
Rated – PG
Run Time – 145 minutes