MOVIE REVIEW July 2003
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Urmila Matondkar, Rekha, Victor Banerjee
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Bhoot is a supernatural thriller with a refreshing difference: There are no graveyards, no dark, dingy bungalows, no haunting songs and no gore. All the ?action', if you can call it that, takes where you'd least expect it ? in the heart of the city, on the 12th floor of a plush apartment complex.
A young couple Vishal (Ajay Devgan) and Swati (Urmila Matondkar) move into their new rented home in Mumbai and gradually discover its dark history. You hang on the edge of your seat as the spooky camera begins its terrifying journey accompanied by a frenzied background score. We "sense" fear? sudden bangs and crashes, fleeting glimpses of an unwanted presence, an ominous looking security guard, the jarring doorbell. For the first 30 minutes or so, this works fine and Bhoot succeeds in scaring the daylights out of you, but only in the first half. As the film wears on, the sheer predictability of the devices weighs down the narrative. There are too many shots, for example, of the elevator creaking its way up and down.
While Ajay Devgan is as competent as ever, it is Urmila Matondkar's mind-blowing performance as a possessed woman that actually saves Bhoot from its shaky script. Watching her work up a maniacal frenzy or slip into a pathetic state of helplessness, is an experience not to be missed. She surpasses everyone's expectations.
As for the supporting cast ? Victor Banerjee as the psychiatrist, Seema Biswas as the unhinged maidservant, Tanuja as the grieving mother, Nana Patekar as the hard-nosed cop ? they all play their brief parts well but are wasted on a screenplay that does no justice to their talent. One fails to fathom why Victor Banerjee, a brilliant actor, was dragged down from Kolkata for a part that didn't require anything special. And last but not the least, Rekha as a clairvoyant, desi version of Whoopi Goldberg ? she looks like an overly made-up ghost herself!
Bhoot owes much of its technical finesse to Ram Gopal Varma's talented crew ? sound designer Dwarkar Warrier, background scorers Salim-Sulaiman and debutant cinematographer Vishal Sinha. They are the real heroes of the film.
If you want to enjoy being afraid, Bhoot beckons.
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