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Movie Reviews: Bhoot and Friends

Zareena IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 07 August 2008
Posts: 25384

Posted: 30 December 2010 at 11:13pm | IP Logged
By Taran Adarsh, December 31, 2010 - 10:48 IST

Okay, so we have one more 'kiddie film' hoping to catch the audience attention this Friday, after the watchable TOONPUR KA SUPERRHERO last week and the avoidable RAMAA - THE SAVIOUR a few weeks ago. I must confess, when I first glanced at the poster of BHOOT AND FRIENDS, I felt it would be an extension of BHOOT UNKLE [2006]. BHOOT UNKLE as well as BHOOT AND FRIENDS are produced by the same name [Aneesh Arjun Dev], feature the same actor as ghost [Jackie Shroff] and feature 'Bhoot' in their titles. Furthermore, both feature kids in pivotal parts. Quite a few similarities'

BHOOT AND FRIENDS, directed by Kittu Saluja [CHAIN KULII KI MAIN KULII; 2007], is extremely low on hype. In fact, the awareness is so minimal that you may not have heard of this one at all. And even if you've heard of it, chances are you may not be too willing to invest two hours of your precious life on this movie since kiddie films made in India, generally, haven't been successful in cutting across the entire spectrum of movie-going audience - from kids to grown-ups.

Write your own movie review of Bhoot And Friends
As a film, BHOOT AND FRIENDS surprises you sporadically [the animation in the second half and the pre-climax, when the kids are thrown in a dark cave, are absorbing], but the problem lies in the fact that it uses the usual stunts and tricks [of kids throwing marbles and nails to make the villains slip on floor/road, kids combating an entire army of villains effortlessly etc.] and also corny and clichd jokes that look completely out of place in today's times. I am sure, even kids would find those portions ridiculously childish.

Raghav [Markand Soni], a school kid, visits his grand-mom with his friends Roma and Igloo. While enjoying their vacations, they accidentally get involved in hunting for a lost treasure, which is also being sought and hunted by a notorious villain [Ashwin Mushran]. The kids meet a ghost [Jackie Shroff] with magical powers. The mystery of the lost treasure has to be resolved to save human lives held captive by the villain.

Portions of Reshma A. Dev's story bear an uncanny resemblance to BHOOT UNKLE, but the screenplay writing of BHOOT AND FRIENDS is a shade better. In fact, the writer knows that a kiddie film ought to be packed with fun elements. But like I pointed out earlier, it isn't an exciting ride from start to end. Kittu Saluja's direction is better than his debut outing, but a better and tighter screenplay would've only made a big difference. On the plus side, the usage of animation [Jackie's flashback] and the adventurous finale [except when the kids combat the villain] elevate the film to an extent.

Kittu's choice of actors - the kids specifically - is perfect. Markand Soni and Ishita Panchal in particular are natural. The kid playing Igloo is okay. Jackie Shroff underplays his part beautifully. Ashwin Mushran looks convincing. Aditya Lakhia gets minimal scope. The villain's sidekicks are most irritating.

On the whole, BHOOT AND FRIENDS is decent in parts, but the problem is it isn't the type that would appeal to the kids completely, nor does it have those qualities that would appeal to the grown-ups. Besides, the lack of awareness will make the effort go unnoticed.

Edited by Zareena - 30 December 2010 at 11:13pm

Zareena IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 07 August 2008
Posts: 25384

Posted: 30 December 2010 at 11:36pm | IP Logged
December 30, 2010 08:17:44 PM IST
By Pankaj Sabnani, Glamsham Editorial
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It's Christmas and New Year time. Kids have holidays and there's merriment all around. There's a certain joy, a magic that fills people's hearts during this period. A perfect time to release kids film. Last week, we saw TOONPUR KA SUPERRHERO and this week it's BHOOT AND FRIENDS.

Don't get petrified with title BHOOT AND FRIENDS. Though it sounds like a horror film, it isn't. No doubt, Jackie Shroff plays a bhoot, but he's a benevolent bhoot. A couple of spunky kids are also a part of this kids adventure flick.

Raghav (Makrand Soni) has just passed with 52% marks in his school examinations, much to the dissatisfaction of his mother. Along with his friends, he goes to his granny's place at Saharanpur for his vacations. All's not well in Saharanpur as there are many ghost stories doing the rounds. After a few days, the kids accidentally meet a ghost (Jackie Shroff) and find themselves involved in a treasure hunt. But they aren't alone as a tarnished angrez also has his eyes fixed on the precious treasure.

Director Kittu Saluja builds up the narrative pretty well. Its intriguing quotient is high, keeping you involved in the proceedings. You want to get to the bottom of the story. But the graph dips slightly when the animated back story is revealed. The treasure hunt is an exhilarating ride. The climax is replete with engaging moments. It also delivers some important, non preachy messages to kids and even parents, to accept kids as they are.

The area in which the film falters is lack of humourous moments. They are in short supply and in a kids film you certainly expect more. Also, it's baffling to see how the goons on a jeep are not able to chase kids who are on cycles. The editing is passable with some continuity lapses. The few songs that are there are mediocre.

Jackie Shroff is impressive as the bhoot (he played one in BHOOT UNCLE). It's nice to see him in a good role after a long time. Ashwin Mushran is good as the bad guy. Maarkand Soni is excellent. Ishita Panchal is decent. Akash Nair is hilarious, Tejas Rahate acts really well.

BHOOT AND FRIENDS is a decent attempt replete with appealing moments. Go along with your kids on this treasure hunt, you won't regret it.

Rating - 2.5/5
Zareena IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 07 August 2008
Posts: 25384

Posted: 30 December 2010 at 11:38pm | IP Logged
Rating: Two (**)
Advice: A treasure hunt with a ghost, umm…not as exciting as it sounds! A jaded-faded desi version of Indiana Jones.

Ideally, children would the best consumers of fantasies and adventures. But sadly, even today children's films remain a huge untapped segment in India. Half-hearted attempts such as Bhoot And Friends - only add to the woes of this neglected genre. But then there is always a glimmer of hope and a sense of optimism whenever a children's film hits the theatres.

The posters of the film held a promise of an adventure and some thrills – what with Jackie Shroff in the garb of a ghost, but the film crushed all those hopes with its slow, imbecile and inane narrative.

Reshma Dev's story of an 11-year-old and his NRI cousins holidaying in their native village and there running into a ghost, sounds intriguing as a one-line. But as a full-fledged feature film – the story seems stilted and inadequate.

Meet Raghav, a not-so-bright student who accompanies his US returned cousins Ishita and Igloo to his village for the holidays. Don't ask why his seemingly idle and stay-at-home mom didn't accompany them! So the kids fly down to the town close to the village and as they travel across the hilly area in a car sent by their granny to pick them up, night falls and they have a brief run into the resident ghost of the jungle.

Even as their granny tries hard to shake off the local rumours about the ghost, the kids find themselves drawn to it all the more. Raghav calls upon his local friend Ali to get a reality check. There he stumbles upon a much bigger and evil plot perpetrated by Gora Saab (Ashwin Mushran), a descendant of a British Colonel who had tried to plunder the local King and make away with the fabled blue diamond or 'neel mani'. Gora is in search of the lost treasure and the diamond with one of a torn map from his grandfather.

As Gora kidnaps Ali's father for his property to be dug out in search of the elusive treasure, the four children set out to rescue him. They manage to enter Gora's den and spirit away the treasure map. But they are caught on their way out and as they run helter-skelter in order to escape Gora's goons – they end up running into the thick of the forbidden jungle. At dusk, sure enough they are accosted by the legendary ghost (Jackie).

The other missing half of the map is with the ghost. He is the wandering spirit of the army commander of the king who died fighting. He had entrusted his brave commander to restore the treasure to his subjects and given him the map to the treasure. However, half the map was snatched out of his hands by the vicious Colonel and he had died with the other half. Now as luck would have it, both the pieces of the map are in one place and the ghost joins those up and urges the children to find the treasure.

The mazes and tricky paths with fire-spouting gargoyles are definitely reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the treasure hunt. Although not fractionally as slick or as exciting. Hurdles in the form of a blue soapy gurgling water body are just so ridiculous. Even the treasure bearing cave and the guarding spirits are so silly. On the whole, the adventure is insipid and plods miserably.

The climax of the treasure hunt is also so tame and the spooks are so silly that forget about chills – you are so bored that you can't even laugh at the imbecile proceedings.

Jackie as the ghost is too gentle and friendly, Gora Saab is terribly contrived. The only characters that touch a chord are the four children. Especially polio-afflicted Ali played by young Tejas Rahate is endearing and so is the dimpling, cubby Akash playing Igloo, the fat kid obsessed with his snack bag. Makrand as Raghav and Ishita as Roma are engaging in their own way.

The special effects of the air-borne bag and the invisible punches is far too dated. However the digital intermediate of Jackie on a horse back is impressive. Madhu Kamble's sets are a tacky reproduction of Indian Jones backdrop, Hanif Shaikh's action sequences are lackluster.

Alas! Kittu Saluja squanders a golden opportunity of making an engaging children's film!


Deepa Karmalkar
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