A half-spirited effort lets down a promising premise

Gang of Ghosts
Hindi (U/A) ¬¬
Director: Satish Kaushik
Cast: Anupam Kher, Saurabh Shukla, Asrani, Sharman Joshi, Mahie Gill, Yashpal Sharma, Parambrata Chatterjee, Meera Chopra, Jackie Shroff, Rajesh Khattar

The point of a remake is to present a film in such a manner that the target audience laps it up. Anik Dutta’s Bhooter Bhabishyat is easily one of the best Bengali films in recent years, thanks to the measured quality of cinematic spice in each department.

Sadly, one cannot say the same for its remake, Gang of Ghosts (GOG for brevity), barring the opening credits. And the sense of disappointment is even keener because the man wielding the director’s baton is Satish Kaushik, who may not have delivered earth-shattering hits, but has at least entertained the audience from time to time.
This time, Kaushik may have thought he had it all: a real story backed by an unconventional formula and a really talented roster of actors.

So, where did he falter? The first thing that comes to mind is dialogue. While the original was a two-hour-long inside joke thanks to its dialogues, Kaushik only manages to draw the laughs occasionally. Another aspect is character build-up, which is next to missing in GOG.

Even the story has been tweaked in a manner that the flow of events seems forced. Thus, we have a director (Parambrata Chatterjee reprises his role) who comes to scout location for an ad film shoot in Royal Mansion, a haunted house, and is convinced by a struggling, irritatingly persistent writer (Sharman Joshi) to listen to his story about the house.

According to his story, ghosts, who are fast losing their homes in Mumbai as old buildings and mills are destroyed, are flocking to the Royal Mansion. Their lives... err, afterlives form the crux of this story, as does a struggle to save their current residence.

Sure, GOG has its moments. The stereotypes are funny, but only occasionally so. Then they get hackneyed. The actors, despite each being a bundle of talent, never manage to convey it. Even the songs are no good. So, where exactly does this film score? It’s only the story and plot movement. And to some extent, Sharman Joshi and Saurabh Shukla.

The director does manage to retain some of the other elements that propped up the original, like the use of subtle background tracks to underscore a situation. However, in his attempt to mould a slightly intellectual and wholly entertaining regional film for the Bollywood audience, spices it up so much that the original taste is lost. It's a real waste of an otherwise good idea.

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