bhoot police

A scene from “Bhoot Police.” (Publicity photo)

Horror comedies form a Hindi film genre that has sparkled (“Bhool Bhulaiya,” “Stree,” “Housefull 4”) as well as plummeted to the pits (“Roohi”). With “Bhoot Police,” fortunately, things go well. In fact, for a horror comedy, “Bhoot Police” has a rather sweet, even cute aftertaste!

The film starts on a funny note—which has to be watched rather than described. Two ghost-buster brothers, Vibhuti (Saif Ali Khan) and Chiraunji (Arjun Kapoor) go about their business in exorcising a ghost that has possessed a girl (Yashaswini Dayama). After the outcome, Vibhuti reiterates what he has always believed—that his father Ullat Baba (Saurabh Sachdeva) down, they have made a decent living by fooling the people, as there are no ghosts anyway!

Chiraunji thinks differently, though. One of his most precious possessions is his father’s book on exorcism, and he feels he must continue this noble profession seriously. At a ‘spirit carnival,’ a tea-estate owner, Maya (Yami Gautam) approaches them for help as a “kichkandi” (a female ghost) is making things miserable for her, frightening the employees when business is down. Again, her foreign-returned sister Kanika (Jacqueline Fernandez) does not believe in the existence of spirits and suggests they sell off the property and go and start a cushy life abroad.

Maya, however, is adamant and has had experience of Ullat Baba capturing the “kichkandi” in a jar and freeing the estate in her father’s time. She is confident the sons can do the same, unaware of the elder brother’s plans to merely make money, and the younger one being at loggerheads with him.

Two brothers who do not see eye-to-eye, ditto two sisters: from here arise the conflicts and clashes and a good part of the humor. Then, of course, we have the weird things that keep happening in the Himachal Pradesh-based estate, with a cute girl who does bizarre things, a cop (Jaaved Jafferi) who is after the brothers for conning people, and a night of exorcism that goes wrong, for after all, there is a spirit there…

“Bhoot Police” has director Kripalani showing his “Phobia” (2016) credentials by not falling prey to standard horror drama formulae and tropes. The chills are few but come at unexpected moments, often mixed with either humor or a funny undercurrent. The mid-film twist is also very interesting, not entirely unforeseen, yet surprising in the way it opens up. To be sure, there is a back-story and, as mentioned earlier, it has its cute edge even amidst the basic dark aspects of human nature.

“Bhoot Police” has some smart lines (Sumit Batheja) and an excellent mounting with decent VFX and prosthetics. Jayaprakash Gummadi’s camerawork is consistent, and the art direction (Donald Reagen Gracy and Anita Rajgopalan Lata) well-done. Co-writer Pooja Ladha Surti doubles up as film editor and does a sharp job in the just-over-2-hours film. Sachin-Jigar’s end-credits song “Aayi Bhoot Police” is pleasing.

Lead actors Saif Ali Khan, Yami Gautam and Jacqueline Fernandez shine in their respective roles, Saif getting into one more unusual and almost anti-hero character. The actor who shines most, however, is Arjun Kapoor, who plays Chiraunji with intense brilliance as per the needs of the role. Jamie Lever is wasted, but the actor who plays her husband, the little girl Titliya (both unknown actors) and Saurabh Sachdeva are effective. Jaaved Jafferi as the cop is his usual self.

“Bhoot Police” is a decent watch and can also be enjoyed with the family. Kids too will find it pretty amusing with the right dose of “scare” for them.

Rating: ***

Produced by: Ramesh Taurani & Akshai Puri

Directed by: Pawan Kripalani

Written by: Pawan Kripalani, Pooja Ladha Surti, Devashish Makhija, Anuvab Pal & Sumit Batheja

Music: Sachin-Jigar

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Arjun Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Jaaved Jafferi, Amit Tiwari, Rajpal Yadav, Jamie Lever, Girish Kulkarni, Saurabh Sachdeva, Alexx O’Nell, Yashashwini Dayama & others

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