Warning: Spoilers ahead.
It’s liberating for Bollywood filmmakers when they label their films under the ‘horror-comedy’ genre. ‘Cos logic isn’t their priority if they offer jump scares amid the barrel of laughs. Sadly, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 misfired on all fronts.
The pressure bestowed on a sequel of an iconic film either makes it outperform the original or causes it to fall flat on its face. The Anees Bazmee-directed sequel will have your eyeballs wiggling to find something familiar as the film lacks the warmth to make you its own, unlike the original (which itself was inspired).
You’ll feel the absence of Akshay Kumar’s comic timing, Vidya Balan’s WTF bed-lifting, and pretty much the entire plot that, in 2007, sparked a dialogue about mental health, while its 2022 sequel peddled superstitions by establishing an oh-ghosts-are-real narrative. Have we sailed back in time?
Anyway, I digress. Tabu.
I’m not sure if Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 can be called a Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani-starrer because they barely have anything to do with the plot except being a catalyst to drag the audience to the Rajasthani mahal that is cursed with a Bengali ghost. When Anjulika’s (Tabu) twin sister Manjulika’s twisted story is uncovered, the film hits its stride.
I don’t know if one strong role in a flawed film is enough to make it a 100-crore+ blockbuster but it’s enough to grip you to your seats till the end since you’ve bought the tickets anyway. Tabu guarantees that.
Until we reach the climax, we see Reet (Kiara Advani) playing hide & seek with her family where they conveniently remain oblivious of her presence. And Ruhaan (Kartik Aaryan), posing as Rooh baba, cracked jokes that did not land.
What really landed was something that was carried over from the original- Rajpal Yadav’s Chotte Pandit. He and Sanjay Mishra alone delivered ‘comedy’ in this horror-comedy drama.
Sure, the moment the twin-sister trope was introduced we sensed something fishy. It’s never that a film accommodates twins and does not use them to give the big blow. So it lived up to our clichéd expectations.
Nonetheless, what made the double-role worthwhile was Tabu’s impeccable acting chops as Manjulika, who was living with the family masquerading as Anjulika, while the ghost of the latter was locked in for 18 years without being guilty. She made us pity the same character whose menacing eyes we’ve been dreading right from the beginning.
Tabu’s final transition from Anjulika to Manjulika was seamless and untangled the knots without making us use our brains (which we put aside when we sign up for such films). She served as the backbone of a crashed horror-comedy film, where the intense sequences also managed to transport us back to her Andhadhun and Drishyam, which felt rewarding as an audience.
Not only her acting but the dialogue delivery also hit the mark. The jealousy of being the neglected one had driven Manjulika to the sinister world of black magic which she ultimately exploited to rob her sister’s fate and claim it as her own. In one of the final scenes, when Manjulika justifies why she highjacked her sister’s life, her monologue almost made us root for her, despite we knew that she was on the evil side of the spectrum.
That is Tabu for y’all, making it impossible to hate her characters, despite them screaming ‘Aami Manjulika’!