- Movie Name:Bhoot The Haunted Ship
- Critics Rating: 3 / 5
- Release Date: Feb 21, 2020
- Director: Bhanu Pratap Singh
- Genre: Horror drama
How does one make a horror film in Bollywood? The cheap trobe of bombastic background score, coupled with a few raunchy scenes, to deliver the intrigue. And if not sex, an ugly looking ghost somersaulting across and over roofs and walls to scare the daylights out of you. Thankfully, 'Bhoot The Haunted Ship' belongs to the latter category.
Thankfully, because it's not the deafening background score that delivers the scares, but the performances and the build up to the impending doom that may frighten you.
Never had Dharma, in its four decades of existence, ventured into the space of a horror-drama. With 'Bhoot', not only did it break a barrier for itself, but also made its most watchable movie in recent years. No kidding here. Because, unlike the 'Kalanks' and 'Students' of the years, 'Bhoot' has a story, and a narrative that holds fort despite a lacklustre premise given to the hauntings.
Vicky Kaushal's Prithvi is an executive at a shipping company -- haunted by a past. And he is designated with the duty of uprooting a giant cruiseliner -- Seabird -- from the shores of Mumbai's sea.
Seabird is no ordinary bird (read: ship) for it kills people for no reason, and leads to a shabby back story. Prithvi, our in-house Superman, takes on the charge to bring the 'bhoot' of the ship and the 'bhoot' of his mind to justice, and somersaults (quite literally) to conclude the narrative.
The high-point of the movie, however, is how brilliantly director Bhanu Pratap Singh weaves Prithvi's personal anguish into the ghost(ly) narrative and makes 'Bhoot' a psychological-cum-horror drama -- without confusing the audience. You exactly know when it's a hallucination of a mind that's plagued by guilt, and when it's the 'bhoot'.
Vicky Kaushal is the captain of the ship -- in terms of screen time, and in terms of what he does in the given time. He is a gifted actor, and probably, a gift to the Hindi film industry. He is specially brilliant in scenes where he faces the guilt of not having been able to save his family in a river-rafting accident -- in the form of hallucinations.
In 'Bhoot', Ashutosh Rana carries forward the role of the modern-day priest he played in 'Raaz', and does a fair job. We have seen him in better roles, and this particularly was not meant for him. He does justice to it nevertheless, but considering the mettle he is made of, he is underused.
Akash Dhar as Prithvi's friend, and Meher Vij as the mysterious woman are equally good. Bhumi Pednekar looks beautiful in the cameo.
Bhanu Pratap Singh packs a punch with his horror drama. He brings in a finesse to the narrative, and depicts the lesser-explored domains of Mumbai quite eerily and succinctly. There is an ominous strain in the depiction of Mumbai -- all thanks to cinematographer Pushkar Singh's frames that swiftly transition from greys to blues, all shades depressed and desolated.
The insides of the haunted ship are also brilliantly shot -- in fact, the mess that the ship is invites more horror than what is going on in the narrative. This is grossly satifying, but crassly downgrading too.
The back story of why the ship is haunted lacks soul -- like seriously. The premise is flimsy, and had it not been for a fantastic build up to it, the climactic sequence -- particularly, its logic -- would have largely failed the viewer.
Also, when Prithvi unlocks the mystery on the ship and gets it sailing, he liberates himself from his demons -- this may make for a terrifc psychological thriller, but a horror-drama needs more soul-searching. Again, seriously.
The CGI is tacky -- not new to Indian horror though. The anticipation to the event is scarier than the actual happening, evoking a laughter -- rather than spooks -- at most sequences. A clever and crispier editing by Bodhaditya Banerjee could have done wonders at the referred points.
'Bhoot The Haunted Ship', overall, makes up for the lost points too -- as it fully exploits the lump-in-the-stomach feeling -- while delivering what it initially promised. It's not a scarefest, but is pretty engaging. It also is one of the better-made horror movies in Indian cinema, and it deserves a dekko especially for that. Watch 'Bhoot' for Vicky Kaushal's stellar act, and a well-rounded psychological-cum-horror drama presented by a prominent production house -- a rarity in the Hindi film industry.
IndiaTVNews.com verdict: 3 stars