Horror comedies are a nascent genre in India. Filmmakers have taken to it only recently. Some good examples of it is Go Goa Gone (2013), a zombie horror film which also had you rolling in the aisles and Stree (2013), which packed horror, comedy and a social message in equal measure. The original Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) can be said to be a pioneering film of the genre in Hindi cinema. It mixed comedy with psychological horror and remains immensely watchable even now.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 borrows some elements of the original but isn’t a direct sequel. One can say it’s a spiritual successor at best. It has Chhota Pandit (Rajpal Yadav) straight from the original, is set in a giant haveli, and the ghost here too is called Manjulika. And it makes good use of the iconic Ami je tomar from the first film. But apart from these similarities, it’s a different film altogether. As said earlier, the original was steeped in psychological horror, whereas this one is a straight possession horror flick, full of black magic, spirit possession, and poltergeist acts.
Ruhan (Kartik Aaryan) chances upon Reet (Kiara Advani) while vacationing in Himachal and it’s love at first sight for him. He’s so smitten by her that he follows her to her home in Rajasthan to sort out a crisis and helps her hide away in the haunted family mansion. Later, thanks to his claims of seeing dead people, he gets christened as Rooh Baba by the villagers and sets about solving their problems. Everything is going hunky dory, till Manjulika (Tabu), the spirit that haunts the mansion, decides to make an appearance. All hell breaks loose till then and even Ruhan’s quick wit and dimpled smile might not be enough to save them all.
The film doesn’t explode into a horror fest right from the first frame. It starts off as a rom com. The writers thankfully don’t succumb to toilet humour to bring in the laughs. The jokes, though being juvenile, are easy breezy and the charm of Kartik Aaryan carries them through. The gags keep you smiling, especially in the first half. Anees Bazmee has made enough comedy films to know what buttons he should push. It’s only when the film segues into horror that his command over the product falters. Perhaps the makers wanted a family entertainer and hence didn’t fully exploit the opportunities for a blood and gore spectacle, like Evil Dead, which was funny as hell despite the horror elements. So what you get are plenty of jump cuts and crazy camera angles, none of which send a shiver down your spine.
The film is a mixture of two diverse personalities. You have Tabu on one hand using all her experience and method acting to create something palatable out of a character sketch that takes more turns than a jalebi. Then you have Kartik Aaryan on the other hand whose affable, cool guy self is the antithesis to Tabu’s character.
Tabu channels the spirit of Lady Macbeth while essaying Manjulika. She’s an actress who can make mundane look sublime and watching her doing black magic does induce goosebumps as she’s so damn convincing. She’s thrown herself into the role of a mad, jealous witch with gusto. Can she ever do something wrong? Kudos to her for another fine performance. Kiara Advani plays the woke youngster who doesn’t believe in ghosts. But her surprise and bafflement upon actually encountering one isn’t played up enough. She beautifies the frame whenever she’s around and shares a crackling chemistry with Kartik. The original starred Akshay Kumar as the protagonist and thankfully Kartik hasn’t tried to fill Akshay’s shoes. Instead of aping his senior, Kartik has wisely decided to be his own goofy self in the film. You don’t ever end up comparing him to Akshay. He implants his own energy to the role and lets his charm do the trick. He delivers the cornball dialogue with aplomb and just moves with the flow of the film. His spirit possession scene is his big moment in the film. That’s where he shows he can be more than good-looking-boy-next-door. He’s perfectly cast as the carefree, rich slacker and ticks all the brackets.
Watch the film for Tabu’s and Kartik’s performances and for its comic elements.
Trailer : Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2
Pallabi Dey Purkayastha, May 20, 2022, 2:58 AM IST
STORY: Ruhan Randhawa (Kartik Aaryan) is a baby-faced crook and yet, the formidable Thakur clan falls for his rookie black-magic tricks, especially the well-sheltered scion Reet Thakur (Kiara Advani). In spite of being the sequel to a smash hit—although independent—Anees Bazmee’s ‘Bhooll Bhulaiyaa 2’ (BB2) doesn’t succumb to external pressures. Instead, it holds on its own… one voodoo doll at a time.
REVIEW: Remind me again what is it that they say about women and disgruntlement? Oh, yes, “Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman.” Down there at the ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ camp, for writer Aakash Kaushik and director Anees Bazmee, that aphorism takes a life of its own. Yes, we all have our thoughts and feelings about this sequel but separate your memories of Akshay Kumar’s debut instalment for a bit and allow the latest rendition to introduce itself. This story begins with a shot of a sand dune somewhere—clue: Rajasthan—and traces back to when Reet was a baby girl clinging to her pyaari bhabi Anjulika. Vut to scene two, the wealthy family leaves their vast mansion for one of their own has rolled over to the other, darker side of metaphysical existence: Manjulika, the wench. After devouring eight of their family members, the Thakurs are assured Manjulika has been bottled up and holed in a deplorable room, at their abandoned manor. But, how would a charming little punk like Ruhan find himself amid this family mess? In comes lovely, naïve Reet. ‘Bhool Bhulaiyya 2’ is nothing like its tale of origin, and that is its secret magic spell.
Bazmee, in no way new to the genre of horror-comedy; Some may even go on to call him a master, knows all too well that, in India, two things constitute the content-consumption palate of our viewers—sex and superstition. Bazmee harps on the latter. Elaborating further on what was mentioned initially (about uniqueness in tone and treatment), ‘BB2’ invests heavily in physical and situational comedies; add witty dialogues, quick humour and expressionism to the grind, the output that you get is, well, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’.
Put pre-conceived notions to rest, for this film has nothing you HAVE seen before: if you know you know. Although it would be criminal to compare Aaryan to Kumar—the former must have felt the pressure down to his last bone given Kumar’s level of success with it, back in 2007—but there’s a constant humming sound that’s playing like a broken record while you are watching the film: it’s the breadcrumbs of a star. Especially his signature head-nod-and-squishy-eyes move, which was replicated (perhaps as a nod to Kumar’s nod; an ode to a senior) by Aaryan. Its not the same, but he tries. With that out of the way, let’s talk Kartik Aaryan the un-star in the movie. For Ruhan, the actor imbibes an everyman candour that glides effortlessly well with his chill-easy vibe. Kartik Aaryan brings Kartik Aaryan on set, to this film, and he delivers a personable performance. His chemistry with Kiara Advani—who’s nothing short of a Rajasthani princess; attire-wise—falls flat. There’s the quintessential flirting and frolicking, kissing and dancing, but the sum total of it all is an uncomfortable, unflattering PowerPoint presentation. Like two people, who have met once before, pretending to be friends.
Others, however, bring their A game to the table: say Tabu. Tragedy should really be Tabu’s middle name. If it is already, then she has got that one just about right. ‘BB2’ sees her in her element—those big and curly locks, gajras, overdrawn kohl and an elegance that cannot be acquired through training. At this point, it is frustratingly impossible to get into the magnitude of her greatness without being a loud-mouth about it. So, we shall refrain. Hold on, hang in there, and let this mean something to you: a certain human emotion, one that is rampant and screams rage, typifies Tabu’s spirit.
In a bid to retain some of the high-selling points of its stand-alone predecessor, Bazmee brings a few old players back into the game, among them, Rajpal Yadav, as chhote pandit, is class apart. Next in line are Bollywood veterans Sanjay Mishra and Rajesh Sharma. A child artist, too, leaves his stamp on the movie, Siddhant Ghegadmal as Potlu.
‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ is an agglomeration of grief and the grieving, a desi (more gleeful) answer to the old adage that life is, indeed, ‘the biggest tragedy’ of all—which navigates black magic and prods along an even darker subject: human nature—and it sticks for the most part, and the bits that don’t, they must be lost in the labyrinth that is life.