Moving away from conventional horror, Bollywood is lately warming up to the idea of serving scares with a spot of humour. The horror comedy as a genre is suddenly in vogue among mainstream Hindi filmmakers and actors. Importantly, these films attempt to serve the funny scares with a new-age spin and a message. The 2018 film Stree featuring Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor emerged a winner at the box office, and set a new benchmark for horror comedies in Bollywood.
Making a horror comedy is surely not an easy task; you need to make the audience laugh and scare them at the same time. Director Pawan Kriplani, who has made a career in the horror genre (Ragini MMS, Darr @ The Mall and Phobia) tries his hand at something different. Bhoot Police tackles the subject of whether ghosts exist or is it just the superstition and ‘andhvishwas’ of people. The film fairly succeeds in doing so but succumbs to the limitations of a horror comedy.
Vibhooti (Saif Ali Khan) and Chiraunji (Arjun Kapoor) are brothers and ghostbusters who try to make a living by posing as exorcists and conning people by getting rid of their beliefs and superstitions on spirits and supernatural forces. While Chiraunji wants to solve a real case, Vibhooti, who is only interested in money and women, has a motto of ‘jab tak andhvishwas rahega tab tak humara dhanda chalta rahega.’ Maya (Yami Gautam) comes looking for a tantrik called Ullat Baba since there is a kichkandi in her tea estate. Twenty-seven years ago, Vibhooti and Chiraunji’s father Ullat Baba had helped them get rid of the spirit. The duo decide to help her and unravel the mystery behind the kichkandi which leads to a twist in the tale.
For the most part, the film will put a smile on your face. The quirky one liners are really funny. For instance, a scene where Vibhuti asks a local for GST on their amount or while he comes out with a slogan ‘Go kichkandi go’ taking a dig at ‘Go Corona go.’ But the funniest one-liner is when they take a jab at nepotism in the tantrik industry. One thing that works about this film is its setup. It is so absurd yet symbolic that you just crack up. This film is made up of so many different elements and Kriplani handles them effectively.
At the same time, there are certain moments that make you scratch your head. Like the unnecessary subplot involving a cop (Jaaved Jaaferi) who gets married to a goat and starts ‘maah-ing’ after seeing a ghost. Or casting Rajpal Yadav for a three-minute role which looks completely forced. The director also leaves it’s audience confused whether he wants to send out a message about superstitions or wants them to believe in it.
Talking about the performances, Khan is simply delightful to watch on screen. His antics along with near perfect dialogue delivery keep the film breezy. Kapoor as the innocent and righteous sibling gives a sincere performance. The duo’s camaraderie keeps the tempo going. Gautam gets her moments while Jacqueline Fernandez who plays her sister does a decent job.
The final few minutes are a bit lacklustre and there are certain aspects that don’t make a whole lot of sense. You also get the occasional jump scares and the typical characters going stupid but other than that, the movie holds well on its own. Overall, Bhoot Police is a decent one-time watch at least for Khan who seems to be in the best time of his career.