Mumbai, 11 Sep 2021 16:29 IST
Updated: 14 Sep 2021 16:21 IST
While the film has its moments with the duo's comic timing coming to the fore, it eventually fades away with a predictable story and the lack of suspense.
Horror comedies can be quite entertaining and turn into money-spinners for producers. Just as Stree (2018) did, fuelling Pankaj Tripathi's rise. Pavan Kripalani's Bhoot Police tries to emulate the best in the genre, and it does have its moments of sparkle. Yet, it falls short due to a predictable storyline and the lack of a stellar supporting cast.
Vibhooti (Saif Ali Khan) and Chiraunji Vaidya (Arjun Kapoor) are the sons of a famed tantrik, Ulat Baba. Their father's legacy of getting rid of ghosts and exorcising spirits is often their key to a happy income. While Chiraunji still believes in the strength of his father's mantras and in the supernatural, Vibhooti is more practical and business-minded. Their big opportunity comes when tea-estate owner Maya (Yami Gautam) arrives with the complaint of a ghostly presence at the estate.
Writer-director Pavan Kripalani builds the film around the duo's mishaps with exorcisms and beliefs. At the estate, they find the perfect foil to their own selves. Kanika (Jacqueline Fernandez) is the non-believer looking for a way out while Maya believes and wants to solve the ghost problem. This sets the platform for an interesting adventure.
Where the story succeeds is in building snappy lines and throwaway dialogues which linger in the memory. Backed by the sharp comic timing of Saif Ali Khan, they leave a mark. Sadly, the story built around these lines does not make for an interesting one.
Credit is due for the originality of the idea of a 'kichkandi', which does not borrow from the Western lexicon of ghosts, though there is a marked Hollywood influence in the handling of the horror sequences. However, the story and the pace slacken and feel uneven, a product of not finding the right balance between horror and comedy in the script.
The trouble, perhaps, also lies in the casting. Saif Ali Khan and Arjun Kapoor's chemistry works, including the former's sardonic humour, but they are far too urbane to play nomadic ghosthunters wandering around the countryside. Khan tries his bit but cannot find the 'Langda Tyagi' zone with his dialect. Kapoor is too subdued and poised to be believable.
The leading ladies are further encumbered by this problem. Jacqueline Fernandez, with her accented Hindi, feels miscast. While Yami Gautam has little to contribute to the dialogues, she does have the chance of playing ghost.
Kripalani is familiar with, and adept at, the horror genre with films like Ragini MMS (2011) and Phobia (2016) in his ouevre. Yet, this one feels diluted. Caught between humour and horror, the story feels compromised. It is admittedly a difficult balance to strike and requires just the right artistes to pull it off.
The film cries out for a strong supporting cast to hold it up outside of the leads. While Jaaved Jaaferi, Rajpal Yadav and the late Amit Mistry make appearances, none has a substantial character arc. They are all used for comic relief, which fades away after the initial histrionics.
Bhoot Police might not be scary or as funny as its predecessors in the genre. Yet, it manages to eke out a few smiles and get a few chuckles while it plods along. It could have been better, but it is what it is.
You can catch Bhoot Police on Disney+ Hotstar.
Related topicsDisney+ Hotstar
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