If Ramgopal Varma has the gall to say, "This movie is just an attempt to scare you, not that I believe in the supernatural," then you damn well believe him! This man has it in him. Like he says, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."
And no, it's not really the bhoot that petrifies you. It's Varma's use of everyday props - the sound of water from a faucet, the whirr of the fan in the wee hours, the shadow of a candle's flicker, that weird stuffed toy on the loft, the godawful timing of the call bell - that will freak you out.
By the way, does your apartment have a balcony and a creaky elevator? Do you wake up in the night to grab a bottle of chilled water from the refrigerator? Is it flat number 201? Well, then leave the lights on today and don't sleep alone... Just kidding, but Bhoot can actually terrify you, even if it's just for the first one-and-a-half-hour..
The main plot per se is as old as that in Ramsay's Bhatakti Aatma or Telugu's Vithalacharya-brand 'Ardharatri Bhootalu'. It's the treatment that makes it spiral to the four stars in the rating. Don't worry, I won't let out the suspense.
Vishal (Ajay) and Swati (Urmila) move into the 12th floor apartment in a busy Mumbai suburb. Swati gushes over the lovely mirror and the spacious balcony in the new home. She even finds a new kaamwali bai the same day. What more can she ask for? Except for the pervert watchman, she has no problems with the flat.
But the day she comes to know that the previous tenant died by falling off the balcony, she starts having weird experiences. It starts with hallucinations and illusions. But Vishal brushes it off.
The presence of the spirit in the house becomes more pronounced with Swati's sleepwalking. It reaches a crescendo when she sleepwalks to the groundfloor and commits a crime. Okay, my lips are sealed now!
It's official. The bhoot has taken residence in Swati. Vishal has one hour to solve his problem. Now here's where you can slowly start SMSing friends and stretching your legs. The last half hour, especially after the entry of Ma'm Rekha as the exorcist, the film dishes out utterly preposterous fare. In the last few minutes, one of the stars in the movie actually levitates in midair asking for mercy from the bhoot for his sins. Then there is a sequence of a car zipping off on its own. Varma should give us back at least one quarter of our money for the fare he gives in the end.
Blame it on the title or the promos, for the first half hour, everything looks scary. When Urmila steps down to get water from the kitchen or when the maid rings the bell, you are like, "Okay now, here it comes." That's where Varma shows his talent and scares you when you are least prepared.
Urmila, I salute you! With such tremendous talent, she has no business wasting her career in inconsequential roles. She wrings your heart with her first-rate performance. That short pineapple cut and the dark circles, none could have carried off that bhoot- affected role better.
Ajay Devgan is Mr. Cool. Especially in scenes where he comes out poker-faced from the psychiatrist's office to announce, "Swati, doctor kehta hai ke tum pagal ho." Nana Patekar as the nosy inspector too rocks in his short but sweet role. Rekha looks like a witch herself more than the one who gets rid of one. The rest have guest roles.
Debutant duo Salman Suleiman's music is a balance between thrilling and spooky. Varma's direction, needless to say, is... well you get the drift from the above 600 words. Only this tech-god could make a horror movie minus ghoulish howls, plaintive wails, wavy white curtains and beheaded torsos. But again, you can't forgive him the last bit.
The credit for the scary sequences must go to the camerawork. The credits have job titles like Rigging team, Jimmy Job operator, Gaffe (???) etc. - must be the ones who worked on the chilling sequences. Good job, guys.
Hate it, or love it, but don't miss it, because it's worth it!