I was 10 years old when Bhool Bhulaiyaa released. Vidya Balan's Manjulika with dishevelled hair in the climax was something my 10-year-old self was not ready to handle.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa was a remake of the 1993 Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu starring the legendary Mohanlal. The Hindi movie took from it and explored the genre of horror-comedy, which, for Bollywood, was mostly unchartered territory.
For a movie made in 2007, it did not reduce any of its bits to cringe or extreme horror. The director, Priyadarshan, maintained a fine balance throughout the film. Never once did it feel like a spoof. While Shiney Ahuja, Vidya Balan, Ameesha Patel, Manoj Joshi handled the serious plot setting of the film, the comic relief was added by Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal, and Rajpal Yadav.
It's been 15 years since its release and even today the characters and the scenes are etched in people's memory. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the film:
1. When Dr Aditya Shrivastav reaches the haveli
The most iconic entry for a doctor. Akshay Kumar's Dr Aditya reaches the haveli in a bizarre attire, quite unlike a doctor. He comes to the haveli in an auto, the fare for which comes to ₹13000.The entry marks the beginning of the comic sequences in the film.
2. Chote Pandit is in a state of shock after he sees Manjulika and forgets everything
Chote Pandit's "Arey beti Pushpa, kahan ja rahi ho gadhe pe baith kar?" is as iconic as his sindoor smeared look. Rajpal Yadav's deadpan delivery made this dialogue memeworthy.
3. Aditya's fiasco with Janki bua
The idea is miscommunication - one of the oldest tricks when it comes to comedy, and yet, with Aditya's and Janki's bua's expressions and dialogues, it took on a hilarious turn. The kind that left us clutching our stomachs at the time. It's silly but still funny.
4. Aditya's banter with Radha
The "jab maine joda, ghataya, gunakaar kiya, aur bhagakar kiya to ek hi jaawab aaya" nasal gibberish leaves Radha confused and unamused. While it's only Aditya who can understand what he spoke, his face pressed against the window panes leaves us trying to gather what he spoke.
5. "Yeh talab tumne bhara hai?"
Whenever Chandu and Aditya take the frame, we can be assured of a good time. While the dialogues hint at the usual jokes we cracked in 3rd standard, the scene only amuses us and doesn't make it cringe, or leave a bitter aftertaste.
6. Chote Pandit coming to Aditya for help
Word spreads around that a doctor from America has arrived in the palace. The scene between the two comedy kings is something that continues to tickle our funny bones even today. Who thought "Paani" could be a scary word!
7. Let’s Rock Soniye song
Comedy aside, the film unravels its secret slowly and steadily. As Durga Ashtami draws closer, Avni's Manjulika keeps getting stronger. The upbeat song acts as a perfect balancing factor to the rise of Avni's Manjulika to the world.
8. Avni lifting up the bed when Siddharth does not allow her to go shopping
The scene left a younger me very scarred because this sudden change was truly not anticipated.
9. The Climax
Shreya Ghoshal's Ami Je Tomar with Manjulika's dance was sure to give you goosebumps. The song, minus the visuals, is extremely beautiful.
10. When makers tried to balance superstition with science, and sort of succeeded
Aditya talks about Avni's dissociative identity disorder and brings forth how it is not any spirit but the trauma in Avni's life which has made her so. But the movie uses superstition to help Avni buy into her associated reality. The tantric mantras only add to the visuals. Therapy is only talked about in passing towards the end. And therapy is a process not a one time cure. But the attempt to shed some light on mental health issues (in 2007) is appreciative.