I distinctly remember watching Bhool Bhulaiyaa back in 2007. I had not watched the movie’s trailer. Watching trailers on YouTube was not really a thing back then. I remember thinking it was an out-and-out comedy when I went to the cinema hall and then getting scared out of my wits when the dreaded Manjulika appeared on-screen. Back then, Bhool Bhulaiyaa was a fantastic movie. It was funny and scary at the same time.
Fifteen years later, we now get to watch a standalone sequel called ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’, which is neither funny nor scary. It’s just another Bollywood attempt to capitalize on a successful franchise. Surprisingly, it has done really well at the box office. But like we’ve talked about so many times before in this space, high gross does not necessarily translate to high quality.
Kartik Aaryan plays Ruhaan Randhawa, a recently orphaned heir who travels wantonly around India as he can afford the lifestyle. On one of his expeditions in Himachal Pradesh, he meets Reet (Kiara Advani), a medical student who plans to go back to her hometown Bhawanigarh, Rajasthan, to get married.
Befriending each other during the trip, the two take a brief detour, making them miss their bus back home. The said bus plunges down a gorge though, killing everyone abroad. Ruhaan and Reet are saved, but on finding out that her sister wants to marry her would-be groom, Reet decides to let her family believe that she is dead. She then takes Ruhaan to hide for a few days in the family’s old abandoned mansion at Bhawanigarh.
That’s where Manjulika lives! The Manjulika in BB2 is different from the first, with a strong agenda against her twin Anjulika, Reet’s sister-in-law. She has been locked up in a room in the mansion for over 15 years with no one daring to even go near it. Ruhaan and Reet’s clear plan of getting her younger sister hitched gets Manjulika out of her confinement, angrier and fiercer than before.
Tabu plays the twins Manjulika and Anjulika in this horror-comedy directed by Anees Bazmee. Now we all know Tabu’s track record as a powerful actor, belting out one after another strong performance in Bollywood. She is no less in BB2 as she takes the center stage as the evil Manjulika who wants to destroy everything in her path to vengeance. Even as the homely Anjulika, who is the main target of the wrathful spirit, Tabu is convincing enough. But the problem with BB2 is that the writing, direction and familiarity of Tabu as an actor fail to establish her as a scary ghost.
Vidya Balan, who played Majulika back in 2007, was a relative newcomer in Bollywood. So when she transformed into a ghost, the effect was surprising and horrifying. Unfortunately for Tabu, her almost three-decade-long career in the film industry has given her too much exposure to be taken seriously as an evil spirit in a film like BB2 which focuses more on industry gimmicks than serious writing and production.
Similarly, Bhool Bhulaiyaa was made when Akshay Kumar’s career as a comedian was peaking. And so was Rajpal Yadav’s. Karthik Aaryan replaces Kumar in the lead but he cannot match the style, energy and charisma of his senior. The newcomer, apparently a heartthrob amongst young women, is yet to find his mojo in Bollywood.
The sadder part is Rajpal Yadav losing his charm. He revives his role as Chhote Pandit in the film but the difference of 15 years seems to have taken a toll on the actor’s vivacity. Although BB2 can be called a multi-starrer with the number of famous supporting actors it features, I mention Yadav because he was one of the most memorable characters in the first edition. It is only natural for the audience to expect more from him in this one.
Who should watch it?
Talking about expectations, maybe BB2’s nomenclature just burdened it with expectation. Maybe if it had taken some other name, a lot of people, including this reviewer, would not have expected much and wasted time on it. Still, BB2’s box office collections suggest this is a worth-a-try movie on Netflix. People who like slapstick comedy and light horror could still enjoy it.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Genre: Comedy, drama
Actors: Karthik Aaryan, Kiara Advani, Tabu
Director: Anees Bazmee
Run time: 2hrs 25mins