Bhoothnath Returns is the sequel of Bhootnath. It’s about Bhoothnath (Amitabh) who because of not being able to scare a child in the previous film, is mocked by other ghosts in “Bhooth World.” So he is sent back to the world to clear his name by successfully scaring a child this time. Bhootnath comes across Akhrot (Parth Bhalerao) in the world, who much like the other boy in Bhoothnath, is the only one who can see him.
The two become friends and come up with a scheme to make money. They get ghosts out of haunted buildings under construction by solving the ghosts’ problems and take money from the building owners in return. Bhau (Boman Irani) asks them to clear out a building but when Bhoothnath and Akhrot go to the building and meet the ghosts, they find out that Bhau is a very bad politician with many bad deeds who always wins elections because there is no good candidate to oppose him. A series of events later, Bhoothnath decide to take on Bhau by standing in elections against him.
Bhoothnath was the remake of the Canterville Ghost. It was about a ghost that fails to scare a family and ends up being helped by them. When I heard that there is going to be a sequel to Bhoothnath, I wondered what they would do for the story since there is no sequel to the Canterville Ghost. I thought that the story would mostly be the same, except that the ghost would be playing antics with a new family.
But the writers decided to do something very different with Bhoothnath Returns. The film is a political satire. I quite enjoy films in this genre, but I found Bhoothnath highly disappointing because the film is like a half baked pie. It’s not illogical enough to be a musing parody and it’s not logical enough to be inspiring. It’s a little about life after death, which was portrayed quite distastefully in my opinion. And it’s mostly about politics but it creates such a hopeless and fatalistic image of Indian politics that even the “go out and vote and change your fate!” message at the end of the film doesn’t manage to instill much hope in the viewer. I mean, what could be more hopeless than a ghost having to run for elections because there is no honest and capable human being that can?
I would not be criticizing Bhoothnath as a parody/satire if it had been done properly. A parody or satire is when one overtly mocks a serious topic like politics in such a way that it makes people think. That’s what should have been done in Bhoothnath because the film is about a ghost becoming an election candidate. The surrealism of this notion would not be bothersome if only the film had portrayed everything in a humourous fashion. But Bhoothnath pretends to be a parody/satire, while in fact it is a drama. But you can’t make a convincing drama about a ghost that’s running for elections. It just doesn’t work and it didn’t in Bhoothnath.
The other strange part about the film was how this was all tied to a reincarnation, life-after-death concept. Again, the writers probably intended for those scenes to be humorous. I don’t know about others, but I was not amused when the after-world was presented as a type of government office with not so kind looking employees. And how come all the spirits in “Bhooth World” are Indians? Does that mean Indians will go to a different place than everyone else in the world when they die?
The scene where Bhootnath is sitting and waiting his turn to come up reminded of a scene from Beetlejuice but it was so poorly done, that it could not even compare. Beetlejuice has to be the best dark comedy of my generation. The concept of death and the after world was portrayed in such an intelligent and entertaining way in that film. I have not seen a film in that genre that compares to it. Bhoothnath is not a dark comedy but it attempts to slightly hit those notes in the scenes when Bhoothnath is in “Bhooth World” and fails miserably.
The only thing that Bhoothnath did right was that the film was released around election time. I think this is the only reason the film was watched and liked by viewers. This film is not really a sequel to Bhoothnath. It’s actually a gyan about elections and voting. Watch it if you are the type to enjoy two and a half hour gyans from a ghost.
Also read: Bhoothnath Review