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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2-Song launch at Imagicaa: How far will you go to watch a film song?

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2-Song launch at Imagicaa: How far will you go to watch a film song?

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is the second part of the franchise, the title of which means Maze or Labyrinth. Imagicaa is an amusement park situated at Khopoli, some 80 kms from Mumbai. The invitation from the Public Relations was tempting:

1.00 pm - Media assemble time at T-Series office, Andheri West


2:00 PM - Departure For Imagicaa, with Media


- Media to be segregated in 2 buses


5:00 PM - Media reaches Imagicaa and proceeds for High tea


5:30 PM - Imagicaa theme park rides open for Media


6:30 PM to 7:30 PM – Imagicaa Event

(Reproduced as it is)

We left T-Series at 2.15, and lunch, in trays+boxes, was handed over to us on our seats. You had to be an expert to prevent the tray from falling over or spoiling in to the person seated on your neighbouring seat. I acrobatically prevented a sure disaster. Food was plenty, but not of my choice, so I just had some sprouts. A whole lot went waste. The journey is supposed to take 2-2.30 hours, but took 4.00 hours instead. So, we reached Imagicaa at about 6.15 pm, a full 105 minutes late. High Tea was hurriedly consumed, consisting of bhajias, sandwiches and tea. That was High indeed.

No sooner had we finished High tea, we were told to report to the performance area, which was decorated with Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 paraphernalia. A large crowd of non-mediapersons had gathered there and they jostled and pushed media-persons. Unfortunately, there was no area ear-marked for media, nor was there any sitting arrangement. A couple of the PR agency girls came to my rescue and found me a spot, not too far from the stage. On stage, compère Nitin Kakkar held fort, employing every trick in the trade to keep the audience occupied and cheering. He called them to dance on stage as well. Meanwhile, the trailer and the song played out some 15 times each, with the racy number ‘De talli’ (give me a five), which repeated its title four times, just to make sure people got the hang of it, doing what many such Pritam numbers have done to the public: make them scream and gyrate.

The hour-long delay was obviously due to the late arrival of the lead pair, Kartik Aryan and Kiara Advani, and when they came, it was selfie time and yoooohoooo time. Nitin had been promising the gathering that Kartik will dance out the same steps as in the song and will even teach one or two steps to the audience. Disappointing him and the fans, Kartik confessed, “I had done those steps when we shot the song more than a year ago. Kiara and I were trying to remember them before we came on stage, but it was difficult.” Nevertheless, both of them tried, and Kartik managed at least one good step. But what was unbelievable was the way he was dancing on screen. I have no memory of seeing Kartik Aryan dance like that!

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 1 came in 2007, a full 15 years ago, and was directed by Priyadarshan. It starred Akshay Kumar, Ameesha Patel, Vidya Balan, Shiney Ahuja, Paresh Rawal, Manoj Joshi, Asrani and Rajpal Yadav. In the sequel, we have Kartik Aryan and Kiara Advani in the lead, supported by Tabu, Sanjai Mishra, Rajesh Sharma and Rajpal Yadav. So, only Rajpal Yadav seems to the common factor. From the little that the trailer revealed, it appeared that there is ghost/witch named Manjulika, who speaks Bengali, and is haunting a house, while Kartik Aryan is the man who has the onerous task of capturing/liberating it, a task at which Sanjai Mishra and Rajpal Yadav, quacks masquerading as witch-doctors have failed. In one hilarious scene, the onlookers feel that the apparition descending from the heavens is not a witch because witches have their feet in reverse. The ‘being’ promptly twists its feet around, sending shivers down their spines!

After the gig, the actors were to inaugurate a ride dedicated to the film, which is a first in the world, if Nitin is to be believed. Yes, the Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 ride is an exclusive experience. After a patient wait at the entrance, of 20-30 minutes, the star couple did finally reach the ride and unveiled the entrance by pulling down silk a cloth cover. Nitin asked Kartik, “Are you here to capture Manjulika?” “No,” replied the actor, with characteristic candour, “I am here to merely inaugurate the ride.” They then went in, to take the ride themselves, so the standees had to wait another 15 minutes. Finally, we got to take the ride ourselves. Unfortunately, the ride was neither scary nor funny, unlike the film, which is being publicised as a horror/humour film, and appears scary and funny in turns, at least in the trailer.

When we emerged from the ride, it was past 10 pm, and we rushed to have our dinner, which, though sparse, was enough to whet our appetites. We were told that all the rides at Imagicaa were free for us, as we were guests, but where was the time to go for them? I, for one, did not get to enjoy a single ride, and this was my first visit to Imagicaa. But we must appreciate the coffee mug and the Imagicaa refrigerator magnet which were gifted to us by the management of the park.

Soon, it was time to get back to the buses. Our return journey was much faster, took less than half the time, and I got off from the bus not too far from my home, but by the time I had changed and hit the haysack, the clock showed 1 am. This meant that I had been on the journey for 12 hours. It was a good outing, but one that could have been better planned and executed. There were too many variables, and unavoidable circumstances, so there is no blame being put on any given party.

One obvious question, at both the trailer launch and the Imagicaa trip, was, “Where was the director of Bhool Bhulaiya, Anees Bazmee?” What is more, nobody, but nobody even took his name, or explained his absence, at least within my earshot. Not that Bazmee is small fry. The 59 year-old writer-turned-director’s list of films is impressive, to say the least, especially from the box-office point of view. Some of the names are: No Entry, Welcome, Singh Is Kinng, No Problem, Welcome Back, Mubarakan.

Let’s end on a six-word sentence that producer Bhushan Kumar has picked from the film and uses to greet Kartik whenever he meets him, “I am coming for you, Manju (Manjulika abbreviated)!”  

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 opens in cinema halls on May 20. Watch this space for the review.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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