Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship movie review: Vicky Kaushal's film is a superficial take on trauma and tragedy
In Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship, Vicky Kaushal delicately conveys Prithvi’s loneliness while grappling with the possibility that the visions might be a manifestation of his own angst
A 10-storey high ship on its way to the ship breaking yard, gets grounded on a Mumbai beach. It’s unoccupied and, according to reputation, haunted.
Maybe the young couple that decided to explore the Sea Bird in the dead of night didn’t know that. Why else would they put their lives at risk?
Somewhere else in Mumbai, a man named Prithivi is recalling his courtship with his wife (Bhumi Pednekar in a guest appearance) and good times with his daughter. He too is haunted and has demons to slay. But first duty calls. As a senior person working at the port authority, he is shown stealthily checking on storage containers at the docks.
Later, he returns home and slips into a hallucinatory state. Soon after he is put in charge of ensuring the Sea Bird is towed away from Mumbai’s beach.
An enormous abandoned and possibly haunted ship is a perfect setting for an unarmed lone ranger to encounter ghosts – both his own and others. The production design, cinematography, lighting create an eerie atmosphere while the sound design both builds and prepares you for the scares.
The stories about Sea Bird turn out to be true. The ship, the sea, ghosts, loss, tragedy, guilt, atonement, and a mystery, writer-director Bhanu Pratap Singh packs it all in. Singh starts strongly, delivering a few effective frights, as Prithvi cobbles together clues to piece together the story of Sea Bird. But the screenplay starts unravelling once the truth of what lies beneath is revealed.
The flashbacks into Prithvi’s backstory of elopement, family life, etc become a diversion from the drama. Vicky Kaushal delicately conveys Prithvi’s loneliness while grappling with the possibility that the visions might be a manifestation of his own angst.
Ashutosh Rana, as a professor of something-or-the-other, armed with a Ghostbusters-inspired gauging device, a brass disc, and a few mumbo-jumbo mantras provides an inadvertent hilarity. When the energy wanes, Prithvi’s BFF and co-worker Riyaaz, Akash Dhar buoys up the scenes.
The crawling and killing apparition, created partially from unrefined computer graphics, is derivative in its look and movements. When a film opens with the instrumental bars of children’s rhyme “Twinkle twinkle little star” you know you are about to spend a large part of the 110-or so minutes playing spot the horror film.
The parallels between Prithvi’s trauma and the tragedy onboard the Sea Bird are far from subtle and that is Bhoot’s greatest loss – it floats but does not find its emotional anchor in the deep and haunting impact of personal loss and regret.
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