Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Bhoot Returns – That’s not the spirit
I remember watching Ram Gopal Varma’s “Bhoot” in 2003 in a movie hall in Delhi. Or rather, I remember trying not to watch it. Most of the time, I had my face in my hands and had shielded my eyes because I was just plain scared.
Varma set a ghost story in a modern apartment, with two people and everyday settings, but he did it skillfully enough for you to be on the edge of your seat throughout the film. For weeks afterwards, I couldn’t look into a mirror because I’d remember the scene where the ghost appears in the mirror behind Urmila Matondkar’s back. That’s what a good scary movie should and can do.
Of course that was ten years ago and the Ram Gopal Varma we knew then has all but disappeared. In his place we have a director who is sleepwalking through his movies. And Varma’s film feels like one long, pointless walk in the night where nothing scary ever happens but you are subjected to people walking around a dark house at all hours of the night.
The first half of “Bhoot Returns” has Tarun Awasthi (JD Chekravarthy), his wife Namrata (Manisha Koirala) and sister Pooja (Madhu Shalini) walking around a house in search of a ghost. We are told right at the beginning that it is called Shabbo, and it makes ‘friends’ with the couple’s six-year-old daughter Nimmi.
When the couple starts hearing strange things at night, they decide to trawl the whole house scouting for ghosts in the dark. Why didn’t they just switch on the lights? Of course, we don’t see the ghost right till the very end and Varma manages to replace his usual ear-shattering background music with nothing but the sound of a clock ticking.
That only reminds you of all the time that has passed in this film without a single scary thing happening. Thankfully, Varma decides to end the torture soon and the film is over in 90 minutes.
There are no surprises here and absolutely no scary moments. This film achieves nothing at all. If you like watching paint dry, you might like this one.