For Bollywood, the recipe to make a horror film is simple — horrifying make-up with blood streaks blended in, loud background score and a few well-timed jumps scares. Debutant writer-director Bhanu Pratap Singh’s Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship, starring Vicky Kaushal, refuses to tinker with the formula. The best you can say about Bhoot is that it is not outrageously funny as some of Ram Gopal Varma’s big-screen outings, but does unintentionally crack you up at many places.
Bhoot does unintentionally crack you up at many places
As the name suggests, of course, there’s a ghost; a creepy raggedy doll – well, because Anabelle – with buttons in place of its eyes; and an old professor who does brave experiments to deal with supernatural powers and then chants mantras to shoo away the ghosts. And then there’s our hero, Vicky Kaushal, showing full-on josh while trying to solve the mystery of a haunted ship.
Inspired by a true story, the film starts with Sea Bird, a huge ship docking itself at Mumbai’s Juhu beach with no one on board. While the shipping officers joke, ‘yeh jarur padosi desh ki saajish hai’, things turn fishy when a couple who mindlessly tries to play hide and seek on the deserted ship disappears. Meanwhile, a grief-stricken officer, Prithvi (Vicky), who is dealing with a personal loss, finds a purpose in life in finding the truth of Sea Bird. Will he be able to uncover the mysteries? Will he come out alive? That’s the basic premise of the film.
I would say Bhoot is anything but scary. Apart from the scenes where a possessed young girl creepily crawls on the walls of the ship or the actual ghost screaming its lungs out, there’s barely anything to keep you on the edge. Even the jump scares of Bhoot are predictable!
Vicky delivers an earnest performance
Vicky delivers an earnest performance and balances his personal guilt and concern for the ship quite well. He doesn’t look fake scared in the ‘scary’ scenes. It won’t be wrong to say that it’s him who is carrying the entire film on his shoulders.
Bhumi Pednekar as Vicky’s wife has a short and simple cameo. Her character comes onscreen in a couple of flashbacks and there isn’t much happening with her.
Ashutosh Rana as Professor Joshi plays an exorcist, a role which he did to almost perfection in Raaz, but ends up looking merely a caricature in Bhoot. Given his acting prowess, he is highly under-utilised and given a half-baked character that’s too funny to be taken seriously.