Major (Siddhant Chaturvedi) and Gullu (Ishaan Khattar) are major horror buffs who have grown up on a daily dose of Ramsay Brothers films, as well as Hollywood fare. In a bid to unite their passion with entrepreneurship, they start several businesses with horror as the theme but unfortunately for them, everything bombs. They meet an actual ghost Ragini (Katrina Kaif) at a ghost-themed party hosted by them. She points out that since they can see ghosts, they should start an exorcism business. She joins up with them and they end up providing moksha to several trapped souls. Their success is noticed by the sorcerer Atmaram (Jackie Shroff) who uses the trapped souls for his own evil purposes. How the two slackers and their friendly ghost defeat Atmaram forms the crux of the film.
Phone Bhoot is perhaps the silliest horror comedy you’ll ever see. There’s a dance off between ghosts in the film, a Bengali chudail who is tired of freelance work and needs a corporate job, a Punjabi daayan who loves to dance, another ghost who likes shayari and so on. It’s both self-referential and self-aware. A couple of cleverly placed product placements will surely make you smile. Perhaps the most tongue-in-cheek moment happens when Katrina Kaif’s character asks Sheeba Chadha, “Aapki Hindi kamjor hai kya,” (Do you not know Hindi well). It’s campy, irreverent and doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s even a scene which has Jackie Shroff sending himself up, proclaiming he’s the original hero since 1983 and playing the Hero signature tune on a flute.
The problem is that it’s not very well put together and the material is all over the place. There’s a lack of coherence in the film which mars its overall effect. We understand it was made during the pandemic and hence must have suffered because of it. Still, a better attention to detail, to screenplay and editing, would have turned it into a far superior product than it currently is.
The cast have taken to the silliness like ducks to water. Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ishaan Khattar have a bromance going and play off each other’s strengths. Their reaction shots to each other and to Katrina Kaif are spot on. They are goofy, playful, and bring out their inner Jim Carrey making faces. You can see they’re having a lot of fun essaying their roles. The same is the case with Katrina Kaif, who one can fathom is having a whale of a time playing a helpful ghost. She has always displayed good comic timing and is in her element here as well. Jackie Shroff as a megalomaniac tantrik too makes his presence felt.
As said earlier, all the elements of the film don’t hang together well. Watch the film if you like silly comedies.
Trailer : Phone Bhoot
Rachana Dubey, November 4, 2022, 2:31 PM IST
Story: Best buddies and wannabe ghostbusters, Major and Gullu, assisted by a bhatakti aatma Ragini, are out to offer salvation to the dead and gone. Their life takes an unexpected turn when they’re faced with an evil father, jealous of their progress.
Review: Gullu and Major (Ishaan and Siddhant Chaturvedi), two single boys living together, aspire to become professional ghostbusters. With the assistance of a friendly ghost, Ragini (Katrina Kaif), they somewhat succeed in doing so. But their journey hits a roadblock when they get pulled into Ragini’s larger plan to rescue her lover from the clutches of an evil father, Aatmaram (Jackie Shroff).
Gurmmeet Singh’s Phone Bhoot, written by Ravi Shankaran and Jasvinder Singh Bath, is an eclectic, out-of-the-box comedy. It’s evident from the proceedings that the writers and the director have spent a considerable amount of time visualizing every minute of the film, so it doesn’t lose its steam half-way into its runtime.
Reminiscent of films like Andaz Apna Apna, the characters take their situations and themselves very seriously. That paves the way for humor which is embedded neatly into the screenplay, is unabashed and character-led. References to old and some relatively new Hindi movies and kinky horror films of the bygone decades (Ramsay Brothers’ films) are also stitched into the narrative seamlessly. The screenplay is peppered with dialogues that will ease you into this film’s crazy world and make you laugh through most parts.
Having said that, the film lags in terms of pace in the first half until Jackie Shroff’s entry into the mix. That changes the film’s gear for the better, but it also makes the eventual conflict in the second half somewhat predictable. There are minor but unmissable loopholes at a few junctures. The film also takes certain creative liberties which should have been avoided completely, and that would have made the narrative even more engaging and entertaining.
In the technical department, the film’s VFX, production design and prosthetics are perfectly synced with the narrative. The film has been edited well, but it could have been slicker. The songs are purely ornamental to the narrative here. Even though you don’t mind them, you don’t take them home with you.
Ishaan, Katrina and Siddhant have a cool camaraderie as the ghost-busting trio. The boys put out a confident performance. They’re the new-age version of Amar-Prem who don’t eat into each other’s screen-time or performances. They vibe with each other which is pleasant. The director has also ensured that the balance between their screen time and their overall presentation is maintained throughout the runtime.
Katrina Kaif is beautiful to look at. She makes it a point to ensure that her presence doesn’t overpower the narrative; she establishes her bro-code with the boys, and delivers an effortless performance, playing on her strengths. Jackie Shroff is the tadka to this mix. He’s the seetimaar element of this comedy without whom the humor quotient of the film would not be where it is.
Overall, Gurmmeet Singh puts out a unique horror comedy which is a departure from most material one has seen in the year so far. For that itself this one deserves a visit to the theater.