Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 feels like a step back, especially four years after Stree, a movie that used the same horror-comedy mold to deliver sharp commentary.
There is a particular genre of film that we see from time to time in Hindi cinema. It’s a movie that Ordinary The Indian family doesn’t even plan to watch before they leave their house. On a day off, the family simply lands at the nearest multiplex, seeking refuge for the next few hours, after an afternoon of intense shopping and/or possibly a meal out. Anything would do. The family doesn’t necessarily care what the film speaks – provided that it is not too explicit for children, that it does not question or invalidate the long-held beliefs of older people, and that it manages to be about cheeky enough to “entertain” the males of the family. It doesn’t matter if ten minutes have already passed since the start of the movie, the family will not only get the tickets, but spare no expense on popcorn, nachos and soft drinks, to see them through the duration of the movie from nearly two and a half hours.
The family enters the auditorium nearly 20 minutes into the film and sparks a mini thunderstorm as they enter using their smartphone torches and loud litter, much to the chagrin of overly invested “serious” moviegoers. in pearly whites from Kartik Aaryan. As soon as they have settled down, the main actors begin to sing. It’s a strong song with colors seeping from every corner of the frame, the lyrics are easy with a slogan, so that the children can sing along if they wish. There is also a hook stage in case the audience is not feeling enough music. The delivery of dialogue is loud so the audience can hear it over their chewing popcorn, the jokes are comfortably settled between being safe and always accessible.
There’s a lot going on on screen – actors having fun, actors playing dumb, actors trying to scare. Nobody is particularly interested in the what, the why or the how. For better or for worse, Anees Bazmee Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 confidently exists in this prized tree of Hindi cinema.
A “spiritual” sequel to Priyadarshan’s 2007 film, which was in turn the third remake of the Malayalam film, Manichitrathazhu (1993), Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 has no connection with the previous film. With the exception of a spirit called Manjulika (pronounced Monjulika because she’s from Bengal), Rajpal Yadav as Chhote Pandit and a Pritam composition which is invoked so many times during the film for the sake of nostalgia… it might even put Interstellarfrom Christopher Nolan (who used a Dylan Thomas poem half a dozen times) to shame. Shreya Ghoshal, who sang the original song, seems to have re-recorded a “slow version” as well, and given how rare Arijit Singh’s presence in film music is, it’s a real surprise that they trust. another version of the song by Shreya Ghoshal. You just can’t take any chances with such films, no repetition is enough.
Kiara Advani, who has made careers in roles that require her to be desirable and expendable (usually in that order), is also on an assured basis in this one. The plot doesn’t really matter except that she drives a literal stranger (Aaryan, whom she met half a day earlier) to her haunted house. haveli in Rajasthan. There’s an extended Thakur family led by the familiar face of Milind Gunaji – who spends the entire film barking lines in a strained Marwari accent. Sanjay Mishra, in what appears to be his umpteenth role as the greedy priest in charge of the fun joke when things get too flippant, puts on a thoroughly professional performance. Especially, when he leads a “revolution” in the haveli of Thakur chanting “Apna Time Aayega”. It’s so silly it’s amusing to say the least. Rajpal Yadav, who was frequently seen in the mid-2000s, reprises his role from the original film – a puny character, who gets beaten up/traumatized onscreen for the enjoyment of his audience.
The creators compensate the acting skills of Vidya Balan in the original with Tabu, the favorite actor of Hindi cinema, to portray a not so ideal woman. In a storyline where Kartik Aaryan’s flashbacks and teeth take up the majority of the space, Tabu finds himself with limited space to excel. She does her best, but Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is not the kind of house that feeds a Tabu performance. While the 2007 film used the vessel of a horror movie to tell a (rather important) story about mental illness, the sequel regresses into the real bhoot-ready. It’s like a step back, especially three years later Streeta film that used the mold of a Bhool Bhulaiyaa for a pointed comment.
In a throwaway moment, Rajpal Yadav delivers the cheekiest line – “should have gone to leader instead, at least all that abuse would be worth the paycheck. I sincerely hope Tabu was paid more than Kartik Aaryan. Otherwise, it’s the horror story of our time.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is playing in theaters.
Rating: * 1/2
Tatsam Mukherjee has been working as a film journalist since 2016. He is based at Delhi NCR.