‘Bhoot Police’, the 2021 horror comedy directed by Pawan Kripalani sounds like it could be a fun Indian equivalent of ‘Ghostbusters’. However, when the film starts, it looks like a desert-themed movie, with long shots of arid land, and a cowboy sort of music playing in the background. Lead actors Saif Ali Khan and Arjun Kapoor play brothers Vibhooti and Chiraunji, whose family has been in the ‘exorcism’ trade for decades.

The brotherly banter between Saif Ali Khan and Arjun Kapoor is so bad, it makes ‘Roohi’ (a 2021 Bollywood film in the same genre) look like a masterpiece in comparison. Had Rajkumar Rao and Varun Kumar (the leads in Roohi) been cast in ‘Bhoot Police’, just their dialogue delivery would’ve elevated the movie’s entertainment value. Instead we’re stuck with a one-expression Arjun Kapoor and an underwhelming Khan. There are a few ‘laugh out loud’ moments, but far off the mark for a horror-comedy.

Let’s talk about the plot – Brothers Vibhooti & Chiraunji travel in their eccentric van and exorcise ghosts, most of whom always turn out be people playing elaborate tricks for whatever reasons. Vibhooti is a greedy crook doesn’t believe in the supernatural and exploits blind beliefs of the ignorant, however his younger brother hopes they’ll come face-to-face with the real thing one day. Such an opportunity arises when a woman called Maya (Yami Gautam) seeks their help to drive away a witch from her tea estate in the hills. It’s here that their faith in the supernatural will finally be tested.

Pawan Kriplani and team have a lot of ingredients right for this production, they have an interesting story, an eerie set-up in the hills, even an intriguing back-story to the witch, but the Kapoor-Khan combination doesn’t work. And some of the jokes are so terrible, they feel like they have been re-hashed from the scripts of Filmfare awards, like the nepotism dig at the actors. Kapoor is even worse than Jacqueline Fernandez, who gets to pretty much play herself, so not too many complains there. Jaaved Jafri plays a cop who is after the two brothers for fraud, and he had one of the most hilarious scenes in the film. Jafri would’ve perhaps been a more fun lead than Saif.

It’s one thing to make fun of nepotism, and yet give in to the temptations of going with big names. The makers do not spend money where they should have – VFX. The graphics of the supernatural elements are so bad, they make you cringe. If you are going to make a horror movie, at least spend some money on the damn visual effects! The 2018 horror film ‘Tumbbad’ which was made on a modest budget of Rs 5 crore had much better effects than ‘Bhoot Police’ that cost Rs 40 crore to make. Sigh.

This film could’ve been shorter and needed better leads and a better paid VFX team. The climax is actually decent, with an interesting little twist towards the end, but the good parts come too late. It’s a 4/10 from me.

Where to watch: Disney Hotstar Premium

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