Despite a familiar premise, the ZEE5 original film Atithi Bhooto Bhava fails to rise above mediocrity owing to an extremely bad screenplay and direction.
Stills from Atithi Bhooto Bhava (Images via YouTube/Screengrab)
Last Updated: 07.38 AM, Sep 23, 2022
Pratik Gandhi, Jackie Shroff and Sharmin Segal starrer Atithi Bhooto Bhava is a ghost comedy set against a premise that’s not new to have been explored on screen. Srikant (Pratik Gandhi) is a stand-up comedian and his lady love Netra (Sharmin Segal) is an air hostess. The duo has been in a live-in relationship for four years and it’s apparent that their relationship has lost its spark. While Netra keeps complaining about Srikant not giving her enough importance and attention, Srikant takes Netra for granted and ends up forgetting things that matter to her. Their lives turn upside down when Srikant has a chance encounter with a 55-year-old ghost, Maakhan Singh (Jackie Shroff), who claims that Srikant is his grandfather reincarnated.
As if things weren’t complicated already, Maakhan now insists on meeting his beloved Manju with the help of Srikant and Netra. The trio embark on a road trip from Mumbai to Mathura along with their friend Sucharita (Divinaa Thackur). What happens on the way and whether Maakhan finds his long-lost love forms the rest of the story.
There have been quite a few films with the friendly ghost at its centre (Chamatkar, Phillauri and then some). In Atithi Bhooto Bhava, director Hardik Gajjar picks a ghost from 1975 and places him in the somewhat crumbling love story of 2021 couple Srikant and Netra. Despite a familiar context, there’s a lot that could’ve been done with the presence of Pratik Gandhi and Jackie Shroff in a film that now seems like a lost opportunity.
There’s a lot going on in the film – parallel love stories of Maakhan Singh in the past contrasted with the modern-day fading romance of Srikant-Netra, constant commentary on how love should be pure and immortal, a road trip with a common friend Sucharita and too many songs in the backdrop. The screenplay attempts to be funny but ends up being jarring and lame in most parts. None of the “supposedly” funny punches land or evoke even a tiny chuckle in a film where the protagonist is a stand-up comedian making jokes about his own lacklustre relationship. There’s too much gyaan on true love and how expressing one’s love is also as important as being in love, which is hammered throughout this roughly two-hour-long film.
The dialogues in Atithi Bhooto Bhava too fail to impress. Moreover, the film is badly edited and some of the sequences just don’t make any sense. Why did Maakhan leave his hometown and never express his love to Manju when he had the chance? Why did the trio + the friendly ghost have to stop and buy a present for Manju when it’s never going to be given to her? Why did the makers want to pause the road trip at Sucharita’s home and how does it add any value to the overall scheme of things? These are but a few of the many questions that we kept on asking while watching the film.
It seems as if going on a road trip won’t be acceptable if there’s no song playing in the backdrop all through the journey. We wouldn’t mind the songs had they been decent enough to be hummable but they’re forgettable, to say the least. Only Kuch Ishq Jaisa manages to rise slightly above average and attempts to capture the innocent love story of Maakhan and Manju.
While Pratik Gandhi tries his best to infuse some life into his character but he’s given very little material to work with. There’s only so much an actor of his calibre can do to uplift a below-average screenplay. Jackie Shroff does bring a certain child-like enthusiasm to his portrayal of the friendly ghost and he surely seems to be having fun on screen. Sharmin Segal appears to be a bit underprepared and tries too hard to emote. In some of the crucial scenes, her dialogue delivery just falls flat much like the expression on her face. Divinaa Thackur does a decent job as Sucharita but again, her character isn’t sketched well enough for her to make a mark.
Atithi Bhooto Bhava never rises above mediocrity and suffers because of a shoddy screenplay and direction. The jokes don’t land, the romance doesn’t evoke any emotion and even the road trip isn’t exciting enough to warrant a watch.