Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 Movie Review: In search of lost time
For Hindi film lovers, there’s no going back to the 2000s, and this sequel to Bhool Bhulaiyaa confirms it afresh
Bollywood directors can stun you with their perseverance. In 2007, Anees Bazmee had one of his biggest hits, Welcome, a formula he’s since tried (unsuccessfully) to recreate. Akshay Kumar, the star of Welcome, had two other comedy hits that year: Heyy Babyy, directed by Sajid Khan, and Priyadarshan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa. I’m guessing Sajid’s subsequent fall from grace has dissipated interest in Heyy Babyy 2 (don’t count on it). So, with not much left, Anees has made a grab at Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.
The director surely knows how vividly the original is burned in our memory. Priyadarshan, remaking the classic Manichitrathazhu, brought out the gags: I remember school friends cracking each other up just by saying ‘gotti’ or ‘chote pandit’. Akshay was at his funniest. The film’s soundtrack—composed by Pritam at a time when K-pop lifts weren’t so readily detected—accompanied stage performances and visarjan dances alike.
Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Tabu, Kiara Advani, Rajpal Yadav
Director: Anees Bazmee
…that was then. Now, in Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, we have Kartik Aryan trying to ape Akshay’s toothy grin. We have songs that sound decidedly AI-made. We have Rajpal Yadav, unforgettable as the aforementioned Chote Pandit, playing a ghost of that character. Ever revisited your childhood home, rummaged around, and found your old toys and wall scribblings irredeemably defaced? Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is that feeling.
Some plot if you care. Having met at a pit stop, travelers Ruhan (Kartik) and Reet (Kiara Advani) head off to a music festival. The bus they didn’t board falls off a cliff. Reet’s family, who are preparing for her wedding, hear the news and fall into mourning. In the meantime, Reet finds out that her fiancé and younger sister are in love. She hatches a plan: she’ll hide out in the ‘old haveli’ of her Rajasthan home while Ruhaan convinces everyone to marry the lovers instead. Why does Ruhaan agree? It’s not very clear. Is it this same haveli where a Bengali-speaking, ghungroo-rattling witch named Manjulika is trapped? You bet.
Anees, as always, tries his best to tickle the audience. Not all of it is in vain. Writers Farhad Samji and Aakash Kaushik ensure there are enough cheap laughs to play a matinee crowd (“Your dad’s a swinger?” Ruhan asks, when Reet points to her childhood swing). But the key to a good horror-comedy is patience. The first film, for example, worked up enough suspense before letting out the laughs. In Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, humour, horror, silliness and histrionics occupy the same muddled space, like the scene where a child floats in the air and a crowd deliberates below.
Kartik looks like he’s watched enough Akshay movies to win a celebrity-impersonating contest. Tabu looks like she’s delivered enough horror-movie expositions to teach a course on paranormal sciences (I’d attend). Sanjay Mishra looks like his pandit character from Ekkees Tareekh Shubh Muhurat has started peddling drugs. Rajpal Yadav looks like he fell into a vat of ash. Amar Upadhyay looks bored. Kiara Advani looks like, well, Kiara Advani.
Nostalgists! Paying audiences! Get lost in the world of Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. And emerge a loser.