Gurmmeet Singh’s horror comedy Phone Bhoot is a laugh riot, with an eclectic mix of pop culture references and stellar performances. It is like the OG horror show Aahat meets Andaz Apna Apna meets Gen Z.
Gullu (Ishan Khattar) and Major (Siddhant Chaturvedi) are good-for-nothing men in love with anything and everything horror. An accidental short circuit makes them meet the bhatakti aatma Ragini (Katrina Kaif) and they decide to launch the ghostbusting hotline Phone Bhoot to earn money and respect, and also release wandering souls.
But things take a turn when Ragini’s plan to salvage her lover Dushyant from the evil tantrik Atmaram (Jackie Shroff) puts everyone in danger. What happens next forms the crux of the film.
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Ishan Khattar and Siddhant Chaturvedi have crackling chemistry. The two make even banal jokes work. Their performances complement each other and it doesn’t hurt that they look good while at it.
Ishan is a good Tamilian while Siddhant plays a rowdy Punjabi munda. Though Katrina doesn’t have a lot to do, she adds the glam with her ‘sexy bhootni’ avatar. Jackie Shroff is the evil tantrik, Atmaram, exploiting the need for moksha or salvation of wandering souls. The other wonderful addition is the brilliant Sheeba Chadda as a chudail who kills humans on highways.
Phone Bhoot is a family entertainer that arguably surpasses Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. It makes use of a lot of pop culture references, including Katrina’s infamous seductive Slice ads.
The film is a modern, over-the-top, quirky twist to the classic avenging Dayan trope of the 1970s and ’80s. It uses all popular ghost stories/gags, including the original Ghostbusters logo to centre shock ads and even references to all the OG Ramsay brothers’ horror films, Hindi blockbusters, songs and even Rajinikanth. Phone Bhoot also gives a nod to Bollywood’s best horror comedy to date, the Rajkummar Rao-Shraddha Kapoor-starrer Stree (2018).
Slow in the first half, the film picks pace after Atmaram’s appearance. From outfits to VFX to the sets, there is attention to detail. The songs are okay but the film doesn’t benefit from them in any great sense.
The writing occasionally falters, but the performances, the humour and the situational comedy Andaz Apna Apna-style make up for it. Phone Bhoot is an out-and-out entertainer and definitely deserves a trip to the theatre.
(Edited by Prashant)