No prizes for guessing that Gang of Ghosts is populated by a horde of zany denizens of the nether world. They can go where they want and do what they will. Wish we could do the same and banish them back to where they belong.
These creatures are totally lost in translation and do not stand a chance in hell of salvaging this insipid official remake of the 2012 Bengali hit, Bhooter Bhabishyat (The Future of the Past).
The filmmaker-protagonist of Gang of Ghosts refers to RGV?s weird camera angles and even suggests that he might get the director of Satya and Company to shoot the street killings in his proposed first film.
He also peremptorily advises his AD not to look for logic in a movie about ghosts. In his conversations elsewhere, the names of Fellini, Truffaut and Ray are airily bandied.
All this talk about what works and what doesn?t in cinema makes little sense in the context of what Gang of Ghosts adds up to in the ultimate analysis.
Director Satish Kaushik squanders the head start that he had in the shape of what is arguably one of the most original screenplays written anywhere in India in recent years.
In parlaying the original film into a grossly dumbed down pan-Indian comedy, Gang of Ghosts loses much of the subtle yet delightfully wacky humour that made Anik Dutta?s script such a delight to behold as it unfolded on the screen.
The characters here are drawn with sweeping brushstrokes and are squeezed dry of any meaningful political and social undertones.
The characters are a dead bunch, literally and figuratively.
A buck-toothed Mumbai mill owner (Anupam Kher) keeps a vigil over his mansion after his death.
A blustery and patriotic Sikh martyr (Yashpal Sharma) refuses to discard his army fatigues.
A wimpy Bengali refugee (Saurabh Shukla) cannot have enough of his rosogollas and chamchams even in an extended afterlife.
A Muslim cook (Rajpal Yadav) from the Holkar army rustles up great kebabs and breaks into Marathi when he feels threatened.
A Bihari cabbie (Asrani) wears his cloak of poverty like a badge of honour and never volunteers an opinion because he is a garib aadmi.
But for the jokey jabs that Gang of Ghosts directs at the greed of realtors in consumerist India, there is little in the film that separates it from the run-of-the-mill comic romps that Bollywood is so fond of foisting upon undemanding sections of its sizeable audience.
To ensure that the audience has absolutely no illusions about the film?s real intentions, there is a full-fledged but completely irrational item number staged in a ?bhoot bar?.
If that isn?t silly enough, the song mucks up a popular Ghulam Ali ghazal for cheap thrills.
And there is more in the form of a medley of parodies of 1990s Hindi film songs performed by the merry ghosts on a beach.
Supplementary elements and dialogues have been woven into the plot but without adding any genuine value to the proceedings.
Apart from Parambrata Chattopadhyay, cast as the young advertising filmmaker in search of a rundown urban mansion to shoot his first feature film in, Gang of Ghosts, not surprisingly, utilizes a fresh set of actors for this Hindi-language relocation of the story.
The brief to these actors seems unequivocal: ham away and leave nothing to the imagination.
The 1950s nasal twang that is Mahie Gill?s predominant character trait gets on the nerves once the novelty wears off. The sex kitten act simply isn?t up her street.
For Meera Chopra, Gang of Ghosts is anything but a debut she could be proud of.
The film?s most debilitating mistake is the decision to replace the principal narrator, a Left-leaning bhadralok (played by Sabyasachi Chakraborty, a seasoned Bengali actor who is no mug with Hindi and could well have been repeated here with minor narrative tweaks), with a struggling writer from Allahabad who is desperately seeking a break in the Mumbai movie industry.
Although Sharman Joshi makes a fair fist of the half-baked role, it is the pitching of the part
that works not only against him, but against the film as a whole.
Raju Writer is projected more as a cheerful, chatty, never-say-die tramp than the worldly wise man of ideas and ideals who pinned the original film to a well defined moral and socio-political context.
Gang of Ghosts has none. What?s worse is that it is not even frothy enough to be ?the great Indian entertaining potboiler? that it wants to be.
It deserves a quick, unceremonious burial. Moral of the story: Never rake up ghosts of the past.