Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bhool Bhulaiya / Classmates

Bhool Bhulaiya

Bhool Bhulaiya is the third incarnation of Fazil's Manichithrathaazhu, which has already been remade in Kannada(Aptamitra) and Tamil(Chandramukhi). While I have not seen Aptamitra, I have seen both Manichithrathaazhu and Chandramukhi but Bhool Bhulaiya still managed to hold my interest in most places (though credit for that goes to Fazil rather than any of the people involved in this endeavor).

Bhool Bhulaiya is more faithful to the Malayalam original than Chandramukhi and barring a few additional characters and scenes, it follows the Malayalam version pretty closely. In fact, there are quite a few scenes, like Akshay's entry, his romance with Amisha Patel and the climax, where it feels like a scene-by-scene remake. Surprisingly though, its these portions that work, making us admire Fazil's original screenplay even more. The suspense is credibly built up, even for those of us who know the ending. And thankfully, the impression gained from the trailer(which had a Casper-like ghost whooshing around a bespectacled Akshay) that this would be a full-length comedy is wrong.

Unfortunately Priyadarshan, who, of late has been known more for making light-hearted comedies, botches the film in the second half. At a time when the suspense should have been ramped up by tightening the screenplay, he introduces inane comedy elements that irritate us and dilute the suspense. Rajpal Yadav's every appearance makes us groan and Akshay's teasing of the young man in the house is unnecessarily cheap and vulgar.

Akshay seems to have made a complete transition from action star to comedy hero. Though there a few scenes where he crosses the line from just being goofy and playful to seeming mentally ill, he is good and doesn't damage his reputation. But it goes without saying that if we've seen the original, he pales in comparison to Mohanlal, especially in scenes(like when he imitates and autodriver after his introduction and when he talks to Amisha through the window) where he acts like him. Vidya Balan tackles the heavy role well too. She is convincing after the transformation too though the climactic song lacks the fieriness of the other versions. Shiney Ahuja seems lost most of the time while Amisha Patel looks jaded in the rather thankless role.


Lal Jose's Classmates was supposed to be one of Malayalam cinema's biggest hits. While it doesn't quite meet the high expectations one has when watching a film purported to be 'the biggest hit in that language', it is a good movie that combines a campus romance and a murder mystery.

The film was supposed to have worked in Kerala because it was to its audience what Autograph was to us Tamil cinegoers - a film that took them down memory lane with its depiction of college life. Probably because I didn't go to college in Kerala, the college scenes didn't have the same effect on me. They do convey the sense of fun with the friendships, the bickerings and the strikes and they are realistic unlike most of the colleges depicted in Tamil films but for me, they didn't invoke the sense of nostalgia that they apparently did in Kerala.

The film begins with the reunion of a particular batch of students who graduated 14 years ago. One of them died when they were students and the reunion is also for the purpose of dedicating a hall in his name. The unravelling of what led to the student's death takes the movie in unexpected directions towards the end. The way the mystery is solved - through disjoint flashbacks that give the full picture when pieced together - is nice and keeps us engrossed. And the last couple of revelations come as complete surprises.


At 3:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


why is this review coming in now. Bhool Bhulaiya was released quite a while ago... i guess that's the owner's prerogative :) Am puzzled as to why the author - Madhu Muttom got no publicity at all.., worse i cant even find the book he had written from which the screenplay/story of manichitrathazhu was adapted. If any of you know anything about it, please do mention it.

At 4:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not related to the topic.. but 'actor' Kunal, the 'hero' of such classics such as Kadhalar Dhinam and others committed suicide today.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to know you still watch some of the malayalam movies. Classmates was a good movie. Dostart adding Malayalm reviews to your forte, i enjoy it.

At 11:48 PM, Blogger Bart said...

I saw classmates before knowing much abt the movie and before it became the money-spinner. So, I liked it better. It was a very simp(b)le, clear, smooth narration of a murder mystery laced with college life. "Ende kalbile" song was another highlight. It was a welcome relief as compared to the then crop of tamil movies...

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

indira, just happened to see the dvd last week. hence the rather late write-up :) i know madhu muttom was credited for the story in BB. but no idea about any book, sorry.

harbinger, yeah read about it. sad :(

anon, don't see as many as b4 since the only shop that carries mallu dvds(coconut hill) is pretty far. hence the much fewer reviews :)

bart, agree with the clean, smooth narration part. and not sure if 'ende kalbile' song was it but i absolutely loved one of the songs :)

At 6:07 AM, Blogger Souvik Chatterji said...

Amisha Patel had shown her politeness and submissiveness in her first film opposite Hrithik Roshan, Kahona Pyar Hai. She was the daughter of a big industrialist, Anupam Kher, and had an affair with a singer Hrithik.


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