When the trailer of Bhoot (starring the heartthrob, Vicky Kaushal) was dropped on the web, it took the internet by a storm, for the actor’s exemplary expressions and the omnipresence of the ghost in every frame knocked the daylights out of many. However, the movie has a different story to tell altogether. Bhoot Part I: The Haunted Ship is based on the real events that took place in 2018 when a ‘ghost-ship’ was found at Myanmar coast. It was later revealed that the ship had drifted away from the ship-wreaking factory in Chittagong in Bangladesh. But the mystery regarding its disappearance from the Taiwan coast in 2009 and then the ship ending up in Bangladesh is still unsolved. The movie pans around a similar circumstance when a large ship ends up at the Mumbai coast one stormy night. The mystery around this haunted ship forms the premise of the plot.

Prithvi, played by Vicky Kaushal, is guilt-ridden and delirious because of his unsettling past. He works as a shipping officer in Mumbai and works in close association with his friend, Riaz. When a mysterious ‘Sea Bird’ reappears at Mumbai’s coast one night, Prithvi and the team get down to work. They try to get the ship moved by hook or by crook. Unfortunately, the ship doesn’t budge. When an already hallucinating Prithvi decides to check out the interior of the wrecked ship, he is caught off guard by the uncanny and formidable snapping sound. Upon chasing the sound, the demonic presence in the ship is unleashed, thereby giving the protagonist a reason to delve deeper into the mystery and release the trapped spirit.

Like any other Bollywood horror movie, this movie, too, follows the same routine of introducing the troubled past of the protagonist, encounter with the supernatural, entry of a paranormal investigator, death of one of the sidekicks and the resolution. The only area where this movie aces the test is the number of jumpscares that scare the bejabbers out of the viewers. Some of the scenes that made a lasting impact include the cracking of the mirror, the ghost-crawl and the ghost peeping from the hole in the ship under the water! Well, that’s not all. The casting is good and Vicky Kaushal carries the story forward single-handedly. Akash Dhar as Riaz is splendid and genuine with his concern for his dear friend. Bhoomi Pednekar hardly appears in any scenes but she looks fabulous. Meher Vij is as still as water and her expressions don’t quite go well with the problem at hand.

The movie has several loose ends to be tied together. The angle of smuggling and political bigotry is something that remained unexplored. The reason behind the suicide of the crew and the possession of a body by a spirit are the areas which could have been dealt deftly but the writer chooses to leave the door ajar! Whether it is expected from the audience to assume facts or not, is still unclear. The total run time of the film is 116 minutes. Even then, the unanswered questions and the predictable sequences are going to send back avid lovers of the genre disappointed.

The movie doesn’t have many scenes that had found a place in the trailer. The ghost’s appearance is an exaggerated one and it might make you laugh! Well, Bhoot doesn’t pass the muster but yes, Vicky Kaushal’s performance and unanticipated jump scares are things to look forward to. Bhoot Part I doesn’t raise any expectations for the second part (in case it was intended to do so) and that further complicates its road to success.

First published in JUST FILM (magazine).

https://www.justfilmmag.com/blog/reviews/2020/bhoot-part-i-the-haunted-ship-a-movie-that-fails-to-haunt/

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