Bachchan and the kid pull off some funny scenes, but then it gets all preachy on us
Like the recent Hindi film Youngistan released a few weeks ago, Bhoothnath Returns is a movie in general election mode. It speaks of the need of ordinary citizens, possessed with civic zeal and integrity, to play a part in electoral politics. Mr Bhoothnath—to recap his exploits—was once an ordinary ghost, unsuccessful in scaring people. In fact, by the end of the first Bhoothnath, he wasn’t even able to frighten a child. He was laughed at for this.
This time round, Bhoothnath (Amitabh Bachchan), who was Kailash Nath before he shuffled off this mortal coil, descends to earth and befriends a boy called Akhrot (Parth Bhalerao). They form a successful real estate partnership. Their core expertise lies in persuading troubled ghosts to stop haunting buildings under construction in Mumbai. Having made enough money from builders for this yeoman service, they decide to do something meaningful for the slums of this overcrowded metropolis. So Bhoothnath decides to stand for an election.
The problem is a legal one: how does a ghost do the paperwork for filing his nomination? They consult a lawyer (Sanjay Mishra), and this wonderful actor pulls off a few funny scenes with Bachchan. During the scrutiny of Bhootnath’s nomination papers, for example, the electoral official is nonplussed. The rules say nothing about a candidate having to be alive; besides, the late Kailash Nath never had a death certificate issued certifying his death, so his name is still on the voters’ list.
The film turns into a Kafkaesque rendering of the Aam Ghost Party, and this is quite amusing… until the preaching starts. The movie takes a serious turn and we are given lectures on electing honest candidates and the importance of casting our votes. By the time Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor turn up—in guest appearances—to endorse this noble message, the movie has lost its audience.
Still, Bhoothnath Returns has a few nice Chaplinesque turns by Bachchan and ‘The Kid’.