In 2007, Priyadarshan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa was a marvel. It promised ghosts but gave an even better suspense. Aami je tomar probably became the most famous Bengali phrase for all non-Bengalis in India, maybe even more than Ami tomake bhalo bashi. Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Shiny Ahuja and the supporting medley ensured equal laughs and moments of trepidation.
Does Anees Bazmee’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 recreate the magic? Not quite.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is not just up against the OG film, but also a stellar surprise hit of 2018, Stree. Directed by Amar Kaushik, the horror-comedy was refreshing and had a thought-provoking message at its core. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 does not manage to impress as much.
The fundamental difference between the original and the sequel is the existence of an actual ghost in this film.
Kartik Aryan vs Akshay’s charm
Does Kartik match the flamboyance of Akshay? The answer is no. In all fairness, he does manage to meet expectations. Except he doesn’t get the best moments, despite being the lead.
However, Kartik is definitely a performer, and from the ‘Ruh Baba’ antics to dancing as Ruhaan in the snow in Manali, he does it all.
Even the Bhool Bhulaiyaa remix has him grooving pretty hard to the iconic song.
In the character written for him, he does well. But you keep wishing Akshay made an appearance. Kiara as Reet Thakur doesn’t have a lot to do, but plays her part correctly. The chemistry between Kiara and Kartik is definitely on point.
Tabu is flawless as Manjulika
The film rides on Tabu’s competent shoulders. Her compelling performance is convincing in an unconvincing backstory and evokes enough chills.
From the ‘bhabhi’ who looks out for the well-being of the Thakur family, to being Manjulika, the actor is flawless. What’s flawed is her origin story.
She is up against Vidya Balan’s performance, and due to the weak story, and some loud and almost cringey dialogues, she is unable to quite re-create the same effect.
Members of the original cast add to the fun
Among the members of the original cast is Rajpal Yadav as ‘Chota Pandit’ whose antics are as funny as last time. In fact, he, along with the characters played by Sanjay Mishra and Ashwini Kalsekar, makes you laugh the most.
Even child actor Samarth Chauhan, who plays the supremely annoying kid Potlu, does a fantastic job as he makes you almost want to smack him. His father, played by the delightful Rajesh Sharma, is appropriate as the gullible ‘chacha’ who loves the family’s most favourite, Reet, unconditionally and keeps trying to play with her ‘ghost’.
The dialogues are sharp, occasionally, and leave you in splits. The funniest bits and the jump scares are both kept post-interval.
Cinematographer Manu Anand does a good job of shooting the jump scares and ghost antics in the film. The landscape is appropriately eerie, with the location being Bhawanigarh, most likely based on Bhangarh, which is infamous for its ghost stories and ‘occult appearances’.
Among the new elements in the film are the VFX and CGI that add significantly to the scary moments and keep it engaging.
Except for the remix track of Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Pritam Chakraborty, Tanishk Bagchi and Sandeep Shirodkar have failed to make impactful music for the film. The other songs are at best forgettable. You can’t really escape the nostalgia of the original and it definitely hampers the possible impact of the movie. It is definitely a one-time watch that you probably wouldn’t want to revisit multiple times, like its 2007 predecessor.
(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)