With the advent of better technology, Bollywood too is experimenting with newer concepts & storytelling styles. But if the story remains the same or rather the story desperately gasps for breathing space to expand into something meaningful, all that the better technology does is shed an even harsher light on how incomplete or rather half-hearted the other crucial aspects have been.
In Pawan Kriplani’s Bhoot Police, Saif Ali Khan and Arjun Kapoor play two ghostbusters – Vibuti and Chiraunji – who are the seventh generation of a clan known for their exorcist abilities and sons of a father who was a legend when it came to banishing evil spirits and ghosts into the dark abyss. They are brothers who make their living conning people for their superstitions. However, Chiraunji believes all they need is one “real case” to prove to his brother that spirits do exist and their father’s teachings weren’t a sham.
They are opposites. While Vibhuti sees the world as a ‘make-profit at any cost’ place, Chiraunji sees his purpose as helping humanity by excelling at exorcism, one indulges in alcohol while the other goes for haldi-doodh.
The film has veterans like Rajpal Yadav & Javed Jaffrey, whose talents are underused as they play caricature characters with nothing to hold on to. The parallel leads are played by Yami Gautam Dhar and Jacqueline Fernandez, two sisters Maya and Kanika respectively, who run their late father’s tea estate in Dharamshala.
The sisters too are a similar pair to Vibuti and Chiraunji. While Maya wants to continue the tea estate to keep her father’s legacy intact, Kanika believes it’s time to move on and shut the estate before it’s too late.
What’s striking though is the increasing instances of stories set in the hill stations as if to rely on the surroundings and the scenic beauty to carry a tale ahead. The film cuts to a drone shot every time there’s a new act! Just as unimaginative are the shots used to “scare” the audiences – from beds flying in the air to dimly lit forests.
The “real” case for the brothers comes when an evil spirit, Kichkandi, that was supposedly captured by their father decades ago, comes back to haunt the villagers on the sisters’ estate. What’s a jackpot for Vibhuti and hocus-pocus for Kanika is a serious spirit case for Chiraunji and Maya. Who wins this battle of beliefs? Well that’s the story.
The film is grossly out of balance as it tries to find it’s definition for a comic-horror. You think that the ghost on your screen is actually a ghost but then the writer breaks your illusion by revealing it to be someone playing dress-up as a witch.
At the very core of it, Bhoot Police is predictable yet confusing. Oh and there is also a M.Night Shyamalan reference that will make dead people turn in their graves and also a mirror image straight from a Quentin Tarantino film!
Bhoot Police is now streaming on Disney+ Hostar.