Indian cinema is very similar to Turkish cinema in the sense that there is little to no ability to make a true horror film and any attempt generally fails miserably and ends up looking like a low-budget comedy film at best. However, Indian cinema, is apparently, quite good at making a regular/children’s entertainer with a small dose of horror and more than three fantastic actors- which is Bhootnath.
Bhootnath is the adapted version of the Canterville Ghost, a short story by a well-known Irish writer, Oscar Wilde. I read the plot of the original short story and was surprised to know that Bhootnath is very similar to the original except for a few points.
In the Canterville Ghost, the family moves into the haunted house without believing in spirits and start to experience weird things while there, much like the Sharma family. The difference is that in the original story, the entire family sees the Canterville ghost, and are not afraid of it. It’s actually very humorous because the family adapts to living with the spirit and starts to play games with him. For example, when the ghost makes clanking sounds, the family offers him oil for lubrication. When the ghost makes blood stains on the floor, the family cleans it up with stain remover.
The one child in the family does become especially close to the ghost and eventually helps him move onto the next world much like in Bhootnath. But the ghost in Oscar Wilde’s story is not a good person like the ghost in Bhoonath. The Canterville Ghost is stuck in between worlds and has taken on the task of scaring all of the residents of the palace because he murdered his wife.
The script of the film is good but the credits go to Oscar Wilde in my opinion, not Vivek Sharma and Sudhanshu Dube. I’ll give them credits for writing Hindi lines. Despite being a film with a main character of a spirit, Bhootnath actually doesn’t overdo the mysticism as some Hindi films tend to lean towards, but that’s the nature of the original story itself. Nath uncle’s spirit is presented pretty normally except for a few tricks here and there, he’s very much like a normal person, which is definitely a good way to make it children-friendly and it stays true to the Canterville Ghost story. After all, we don’t want those little pumpkins hiding under the covers and knocking on their parents’ door to sleep with them now do we. And as usual with Amitabh ji’s films, there is a lesson to be learned about respecting and loving elders.
There is nothing to say about the actors since they are all proven in their art- Amitabh, Shahrukh, Juhi and Satish Shah. The little guy, Aman Siddiqui did a great job in the film too! He’s a really good actor, very natural, definitely has future in the business. I want to give Shahrukh a special mention here because apparently he did not take any payment for acting in the film and even used his own clothing (Shahrukh has his own ship captain’s uniform?! Oooh! But wait, isn’t he supposed to be an engineer on the ship? Anyway…). Satish Shah was super funny, his accent was fantastic. He put on the funniest foreign accent on his Hindi. I love him! And it was so funny that he kept eating the kids’ lunches!
The songs, not really worth of a mention since it was children’s oriented, I think the kids would have liked them. But kudos to the producers for making a film that was as entertaining for adults to see as the kids.
Happy with the film and looking forward to Bhootnath 2 which was on hold last year due to the film’s producer Ravi Sharma’s hospitalization from a lung infection. No updates have been made since then. Who knows when or if the sequel will release although this just seems like an excuse to me. Ravi Sharma has had plenty of time to get better and I don’t think he needs to be in tip top condition to finance a film now does he?
Considering the fact that the film is almost exactly copied from another story, I think even if there are plans to make a sequel, it could end up being very different (read: bad). So maybe they should leave it be.