Atithi Bhooto Bhava Review: This friendly ghost tale is all about love in life and beyond
Pratik Gandhi's effortless acting makes most of his strides relatable, while Jackie as Makhan steals the show with his innocent and childlike mannerisms
Humans are bound by love. Perhaps, it is the only thing that has the power to transcend time and space. Even if such a tenet may not have validating evidence, the yearning for love makes us believe that love is supreme. This yearning also makes one understand the importance of expressing love. Atithi Bhooto Bhava reiterates all of these beliefs.
Director: Hardik Gajjar
Cast: Pratik Gandhi, Jackie Shroff, Sharmin Segal and Divinaa Thakur
Directed by Hardik Gajjar, Atithi Bhooto Bhava revolves around Srikant Shirodkar (Pratik Gandhi), a quick-witted stand-up comedian and his girlfriend Netra (Sharmin Segal), an air hostess. Even after living together for almost four years, things are not rosy in their lives. Srikant too makes a joke out of his love life at his stand-up show. To overcome monotony, Netra hopes for some expression of love from Srikant. Unfortunately, Srikant is... well... just another man who doesn't care a lot about his partner's wishes and choices. Right from adding the wrong ingredients to Netra's omelette to putting down one of her endearing anecdotes, Srikant doesn't do anything right by Netra, who gets rightfully riled up.
Even when his big surprise for Netra falls flat, Srikant takes to the bottle. This is when Srikant encounters a ghost, named Makhan Singh (Jackie Shroff), who requests the former to fulfil a promise made in a previous life.
What follows is a journey that the couple, along with one of their friends (Divinaa Thakur) and Makhan, embark on and understand the power of love. Makhan's pursuit to find his long-lost love also stands true to the adage — love travels beyond life and death.
As the film falls under the 'friendly ghost' trope, it's understood that logic is the last thing in the makers' minds. The chestnut tale of humans and ghosts helping each other is as old as the skies. However, the obstacles to realise Makhan's love could have been a little more convincing and palpable. The story meanders through two timelines-- 1975 (Mathura) and 2021 (Mumbai), and S Prasad's brilliant music helps in the seamless transitions. Another highlight of Atithi Bhooto Bhava is definitely Madhu Vannier's appealing frames that highlight the beauty of Mathura's dilapidated buildings, the Holi festivities, the Jalebis in the Nukkads, and the highway Dhabas that complement the flamboyance of Mumbai
Pratik Gandhi's effortless acting makes most of his strides relatable, and his jokes, on and off stage, land well. But the problem is that all of them are easily forgettable. While Jackie as Makhan steals the show with his innocent and childlike mannerisms, Sharmin too rings in an earnest portrayal as Netra, who is more than just Srikant's love interest. However, here too, the positives of this relationship are bogged down by the inconsistencies and the lack of impact in their chemistry. Yet the effective staging of the climactic portions and the moving performances offer much-required emotional highs that were missing in many scenes.
We see themes like immortal love, unconditional love, and the importance of expressing love being effectively dealt with in Atithi Bhooto Bhava. While the soul of the film has its heart in the right place, the makers opt to go down the preachy route rather than be inventive... and that is not a welcome guest at all.