This was fun, this film consciously tried to include multiple regional ghost traditions, AND explained what they were to us in the audience, which I deeply appreciated.
Siddhant and Ishaan are slackers and massive horror fans. One night they accidentally electrocute themselves and then they can see and communicate with ghosts. Katrina is a Ghost who discovers their powers. She gives them idea to be exorcists. They talk to ghosts, find out why they are haunting people (usually because the people did something wrong), then take a massive fee and give a large part of it to the family of the ghost in order to provide some form of justice, which helps the ghosts achieve “Moksha” and leave the earthly plain. Inevitably, this brings them against Jackie Shroff, who is running a whole ghost corporation. He can see ghosts too, and promises them “Moksha” if they follow his orders, then takes payment from people to help them kill their enemies with ghost powers. Katrina reveals that she started working with Siddhant and Ishaan because she needs their help. She and her boyfriend were killed together, but her boyfriend’s ghost is held prisoner by Jackie. She wants to release her boyfriend so they can be united and achieve Moksha together. Siddhant and Ishaan at first say “no”, then decide to help. Big final battle, they defeat Jackie, Kat goes off with her boyfriend, Ishaan and Siddhant drive back home.
The plot looks sort of stupid and slim written out like that. And it is stupid and slim. But what makes the movie work are the bits around the plot. For instance, slackers Ishaan and Siddhant are getting by with money from their father’s. And we have a great scene where their two Dads come by to threaten to stop paying and the by play between the fathers, and the fathers and sons, is delightful. Or in the finale, they defeat Jackie with the help of the movie monster they have been worshipping in their apartment this whole time, who finally comes to life and saves them in a great unexpected pay off.
Part of the great bits is the regional humor. We have a Punjabi ghost, and a Bengali ghost, and a Tamilian ghost. There’s jokes about Rajinikanth, and Bhangra, and all kinds of fun things like that. And I learned about ghosts! Turns out, they aren’t all the same. The Daayans keep their power in their hair (like Stree), and the Churrails have the backwards feet (like in Babul). They don’t have to include the little touches like that, but it is super fun that they do.
Really the only downside is that our two main characters can’t QUITE carry the film. Maybe because they don’t have a point? Stree, the gold standard for horror-comedy, used the “dumb male heroes” to question the social structure of the village, eventually having our heroes be “heroes” by being willing to acknowledge the sins of the patriarchy and apologize. In this film, Siddhant and Ishaan are stupid enough to come up with a stupid funny idea and carry it out, but beyond that there isn’t really a point to them. And they are REALLY stupid characters.
What’s really irritating is that for the plot to keep moving, they also have to have moments of redemption. They feel something when a ghost achieves Moksha, they fight Jackie to save the ghosts, and so on. But then they immediately go back to shallow and stupid int he next scene! Ugh.
I’m still gonna recommend the movie because all of the jokes are worth it, and Jackie, and the general “let’s have a good time” tone of the film. But be aware, our heroes are lousy.