In the past, actor Pratik Gandhi and director Hardik Gajjar had collaborated on a Gujarati (‘Vaahlam Jaao Ne’) and a Hindi (‘Bhavai’) film. ‘Bhavai’, in fact, was that film that marked the re-opening of theatres in India after being shut for several months owing to the Covid-19 situation. Though ‘Bhavai’ had an interesting premise, it turned out to be a largely underwhelming film. The director and the actor have joined hands again for ‘Atithi Bhooto Bhava’, a film which has released on the streaming platform Zee5. Along with Pratik, the film stars Jackie Shroff and Sharmin Segal in principal roles.
The film opens with a scene in Mathura in the year 1975. We see a young Sikh getting advice from his elderly grandfather about matters of the heart. Makhan Singh, the young man, is in love with a young woman named Manju. While they are very much in love, there are obstacles which they need to overcome. The untimely death of his grandfather makes it further difficult for Makhan to dream of a new life with Manju. Years later, Makhan’s grandfather is reincarnated as Shrikant (Pratik Gandhi). Shrikant is in a live-in relationship with Netra (Sharmin Segal) and earns his livelihood by being a stand-up comic. Though Netra and Shrikant are in love, they are having certain issues in their relationship. Life takes an interesting turn for Shrikant when he encounters the ghost of Makhan Singh (Jackie Shroff), who then requests him to help him reunite with Manju.
The basic premise of ‘Atithi Bhooto Bhava’ is very similar to the Anushka Sharma starrer ‘Phillauri’ (2017). The Anshai Lal-directed film was far from being a competent product but when you compare it to ‘Atithi Bhooto Bhava’, it appears to be a classic. Though the film is just two hours long, you feel extremely restless while watching it. That’s because there is not much happening on the screen. The film tries to deal with multiple themes but does not do justice to any of them.
Since we are told the screenplay has been ‘adapted’ from somewhere, one would assume the film is based on a play. Writers Pradeep Srivastava and Shreyes Lowlekar put together a screenplay that doesn’t have any meat in it. The romance doesn’t work, the humour falls flat and the emotional sequences fail to leave the desired impact. While Netra and Shrikant are shown to be going through a rough phase in their relationship, the problems appear to be ‘manufactured’ and not the kind one can relate to. Hardik has tried to use humour as a prominent tool in the film but it just doesn’t work. There is also a joke about Sardars that is downright offensive.
The scene in which Netra asks Suchi (Divinaa Thackur) to stop the car as they haven’t bought a gift for Manju is outrageously silly. Clearly, the idea was to construct a scene that would give Suchi an idea that Netra and Shrikant have something playing on their minds, it just serves as a glorious example of how bad the writing is. Also, it’s bewildering to see how logic takes a backseat in many of the sequences. Despite the seat besides moving all the time, Suchi fails to realize that something strange is happening there. One also wonders why Makhan never tried to meet Manju when he was alive. The visit to Suchi’s house could have made for a very interesting standalone chapter in the film but the writers fail to explore properly. We are introduced to Suchi’s father who adheres to a patriarchal mindset and another character but again, nothing really happens. The climax, which is designed to make you teary-eyed, is unmemorable.
Pratik Gandhi delivers a charming performance as Shrikant and is good in the flashback sequences as well. Sharmin Segal struggles in the emotional scenes but delivers a fairly decent performance. Jackie Shroff puts his best foot forward and shines in many of the scenes. Divinaa Thackur puts forward a confident performance as Suchi. Anuradha Patel barely gets any scope.
‘Atithi Bhooto Bhava’ is an utterly forgettable film and one of the worst that you will see this year.