Erstwhile called Billu Barber, the latest Irrfan Khan – Lara Dutta – Shah Rukh Khan starrer is now called just Billu. Apparently some saloon and barber association requested SRK to remove the suffix since it was offending to their caste! And I learnt this after I’d booked the movie ticket . Priyadarshan’s movies are a good watch, not all of them but most of them are anyway. Most often than not, he packs his movie with some stalwarts and some bits n pieces actors and weaves a believable and enjoyable story around them in ordinary situations.
Billu is one such movie which revolves around an ordinary barber Billu Vilas Pardesi (Irrfan Khan), his doting wife Bindiya (Lara Dutta), his school-going kids and his struggle to make ends meet while running an empty saloon in a tiny village. Into this mundane existence breezes in the Super Star Sahir Khan (SRK) and causes an unwanted turmoil. People around Billu believe him to be a friend of the star and start bestowing goodies upon him in lieu of some favours. Little they do realize that Billu dreads even the thought of him meeting his so-called-friend. Is the star really Billu’s friend or was it all a blatant lie told with an ulterior motive? I’d rather not give the story away but I’ll tell you that I sat through it all just to know that very reason…
Bhool Bhulaiyaa is actually two films rolled-into-one. While on one hand it attempts to be the zany & racy laugh-a-thon that director Priyadarshan is so capable of churning out yearly (Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchul, Garam Masala, Dhol etc), on the other, it also tries to slip into the garb of a serious melodramatic flick with some sorta hidden message (Gardish, Virasat, Kyon Ki etc.) And thatz where the movie falters and nearly falls flat on its face! But it ain’t a complete washout either! At the end of the movie, one comes out of the theatre humming out the very catchy and very zippy title song – whose placement at the absolute end is a masterstroke – and satisfied with the fare dished out for the last couple of hours. And hence, Bhool Bhulaiyaa is a winner.
Remakes are not uncharted territory for Priyadarshan and most often than not, he remakes his own regional-language films into Hindi pretty successfully. As a remake of the blockbuster hits that were Chandramukhi (Tamil & Telugu); Apthamitra (Kannada) & Manichitrathazhu (Malayalam); Bhool Bhulaiyaa is a pretty decent attempt. Also it helps that most Hindi-movie-watchers wouldn’t have watched the originals to have a comparative point-of-view. The story is conveniently set in Rajasthan, where the existence of royalty is almost an all-known entity and revolves around the princely family of Chaturvedis (wierd name that, for a royal family!) whose scion Siddharth (Shiney Ahuja) returns with his newly wed wife Avni (Vidya Balan) and against the wishes of his family members, resides in their ancestral palace which holds a dark secret. Unknowingly, Avni triggers off a chain of indescribable events that compel Siddharth to call his friend – renowned psycho-analyst Raj Shrivastav (Akshay Kumar). How he rids the family of an age-old curse whilst trying to de-mystify the supernatural notions that abound, forms the crux of the story.
Performance-wise, the film belongs completely to Akshay Kumar. He has perfected this knack of slipping into any sort of roles with consummate ease and in Bhool Bhulaiyaa too he totally looks the part of a well-read psycho-analyst. His antics and one-liners are witty and fun-evoking at the same time. Some unnecessary crude humor does malign his performance somewhat. Siddharth is okay as the hapless husband but lacks conviction as the family scion, especially in the pre-interval portions. Vidya Balan has the most challenging role of them all but doesn’t quite live upto it. I may be prejudiced, having seen them both earlier but Soundarya and Jyothika were far better and almost flawless in their portrayal of the same role. Amisha Patel is just a gap-filler. Rest of the cast is also satisfactory though Paresh Rawal should’ve deserved something better. Rajpal Yadav’s character is a total waste. Some of the scenes are well picturized, though the flashback portions look tacky and out-of-sync! The movie’s setting too adds to the eerie experience.
Apart from Akshay Kumar, the movie’s biggest draw is its music by Pritam. I was spot-on with my guesses about the songs placement & picturisation. The title track is the best of the lot and comes at the end-credit sequence. Labon ko & Dholna are well-shot and don’t disrupt the movie flow but Allah hafiz & Let’s Rock Sohniye stick out like a sore thumb! Sajda & Sakhiya have been dropped entirely. Biggest flaw? The director’s indecision between portraying an out n’ out possession-based storyline & a scientifically-driven dual-identity-syndrome [DID] which leaves the story neither here nor there! Climax of the movie, being the highpoint, should’ve been picturised better. To conclude, Bhool Bhulaiyaa is an absolute time-pass movie and won’t disappoint those with medium expectations. Don’t expect the sky coz its got just a glimpse