Onto the final release of the weekend but before that India are through to the semi finals of the T20 World Cup, this after the Choker OGs choked yet again earlier in the day. And we at Popcorn Reviewss hope the cup returns home but at the same time the best team wins in what is a thriller of a World Cup! And with that I finished watching the last of the three new theatrical releases this week, Phone Bhoot in a theatre near me. Looking at its trailer, I did have my red flags up as the horror comedy did not seem like either.
The horror comedies are on the rise and it was Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 earlier in the year which had scored mainly due to some sharp punches and a towering acting masterclass by Tabu that took care of the horror element. The thing to note about its success is the blend of horror and comedy which are the key ingredients here. So then does Phone Bhoot(a word play on phone booth) manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Phone Bhoot follows the story of a ghost who reaches out to two losers with a business idea. Will the gang succeed in it? Now I haven’t revealed details about the story but it is so quirky, weird, trashy and crazy at the same time that it made for a hilarious theatre experience. The screenplay standing at almost 140 minutes is a tad too long and I will get to its flaws in a minute.
The drama opens with a quirky voiceover straight from the Ramsay brother films, a mix of Hindi and English that made for a hilarious first few minutes. Soon the drama introduces you to the protagonists in a setting that is crazy and weird. Now I had my reservations about the humour in the film, simply going on its trailer. But to my surprise, I was pleasantly surprised at how smart the writing was!
If there ever was cinema based on “watching” memes(barring Phir Hera Pheri) then it would be Phone Bhoot. The writing particularly in the first half is sharp, filled with quirky one-liners wherein the writers are always self aware of what they are serving the audience. The humour is silly, trashy, quirky and crazy and the writers do not beat the bush about it in trying to pretend in being smarter than this. Here I would like to also mention that the humour here is an acquired taste. It is niche and not everyone would be able to absorb it. I absolutely had a blast though!
There are umpteen number of meta references thrown in the narrative along with a heavy dose of meme culture. To give you a couple of instances without letting you into any spoilers, a ghost slaps the character of Siddhant as says “Bohot Hard”. Or a random call asking for Katrina’s number, only to get a response that ‘ “Vickypedia” pe dhund na'(search on Wikipedia, with Vicky being Katrina’s real life husband). These make for some hilarious moments that had me laughing and clapping hysterically in a theatre.
The second half though slightly slows down the things even though the writers pack in plenty of moments to keep you entertained. The issue here lies in two things – the horror element is a little diluted right throughout and the writers get carried away in the final 20 minutes which are as flat as a pancake. Things tend to get repetitive in the second hour, although entertaining, and these small flaws deter the film from being a cult. I do however foresee this film garnering a fan base over the years. Overall, the screenplay is really sharp which can only be enjoyed if you have a weird sense of humour(like me😂) and have a good knowledge of the memes doing the rounds these days. Very weird and absurd but an absolute blast!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are the unsung heroes of the film. The drama are filled with quirky, absurb, trashy and weird one liners that had me laughing the most for a Hindi film in recent times. The music is a bit of a hit and miss for me. While the music arrangements did go well with the thene of the film, it wasn’t as memorable as it should have been. The BGM is an ode to many Ramsay films to begin with and slowly is able to carve its own niche. The cinematography is excellent as is the editing. Director Gurmmeet Singh is a bundle of talent and dare I say this film is an extension of his wacky brain as well. His direction compliments the mood of the drama perfectly and is equally crazy in its treatment. Very impressive!
The performances are hilariously good here. Nidhi Bisht and Sheeba Chadha(freelance Chudail, oh my word🤣🤣) are absolutely hilarious in their roles that had me cracking up everytime they were onscreen. Manuj Sharma and Shrikant Varma as Rahu and Ketu(brilliant names) are smashingly good as is Manurishi Chadha(hilarious)! Jackie Shroff as Aatmaram is in his elements and aptly cast. Katrina Kaif as Ragini looks pretty and does a good job as well. Siddhant Chaturvedi as Major is on point with his comic timing and makes his presence felt wonderfully well. Ishaan Khatter as Gallileo has a quiet charm to him and he is excellent here. Both Siddhant and Ishaan have crackling chemistry between the two of them.
Phone Bhoot is quirky, weird, absurd and crazy all at the same time! I had an absolute blast in this comedy which is an acquired taste in many ways. Available in a theatre near you!