Cast: Akshay Kumar, Shiney Ahuja, Vidya Balan, Ameesha Patel
Storyline: A newly-wed couple try to dispel notions of a ghost in their haunted mansion only to find themselves caught in its spell.
Bottomline: Priyadarshan loses it in translation
How bad a filmmaker should you be to stay so faithful to the screenplay of the Malayalam original ‘Manichitrathazhu’ and yet churn out such horror?
At least if the filmmaker had to deal with changes/touches/twists to the tale, you could’ve blamed it on the screenwriter. But here’s a film that stays as close as possible to the screenplay of the much-acclaimed classic and yet falters, purely because of its execution. By execution, I also mean CAPITAL punishment for us viewers.
It is an ordeal to sit through the first one hour of ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ and its attempt at comedy. Because, in this segment, even the usually dependable Paresh Rawal’s timing is all bollocks and you end up giggling only when you are supposed to be scared.
While the original was rooted in a credible rural milieu with an endearingly believable bunch of village simpletons who are convinced about the presence of a ghost, Priyadarshan’s take is filled with his regular inventory of caricatures – Rajpal Yadav in yet another ‘Chottey’ avatar, Paresh Rawal bumbling around like an idiot, Asrani hamming it up… you get the picture?
Add to this, there’s the phenomenally expressionless Ameesha Patel to hoot at.
Akshay finally makes his entry ten minutes before interval and gives you something to look forward to: The over-priced popcorn.
Jokes apart, Akshay is the only entertaining proposition of the film, using his seasoned comic flair to keep the proceedings light, carrying what’s left of the film on his able shoulders. Vidya Balan has two left feet and Shiney Ahuja’s sincerity shows in the scene where he breaks down. What a long way he has come since Sins.
Where Bhool Bhulaiyaa fails and Manichitrathazhu scores, is in the filmmaker’s ability (or inability, in this case) to set up a face-off between science and superstition. Fazil played a gripping mind-game with us keeping us guessing on what was causing all hell to break loose – was it really the ghost or was it someone with a dissociative identity disorder?
There were many cues thrown around in Manichitrathazhu, some to mislead, some to distract and some to hint and help you participate in the guessing game. For all his claim to have worked on the film, Priyadarshan doesn’t even seem to have got hold of the basic idea behind the film: a science-meets-superstition-based-thriller where parapsychology and exorcism flow seamlessly into the narrative.
While we can understand P.Vasu’s commercial considerations that made him ignore these finer aspects and just dumb it down as a Superstar film for the masses, Priyadarshan’s claim of being faithful to the original is superficial and unreal, just like the film he has made.
‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ is yet another example of a classic lost in translation, another victim of Priyadarshan’s obsessive compulsive urge to make a career out of other people’s films with only buffoonery for a USP.