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Even headphones may not be enough to save your ear drums – Beyond Bollywood

An intriguing plot, fine show by its leading cast, but the shabby direction/editing, and extremely loud background score hits on your nerves.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️ ( 2 / 5)

By Mayur Lookhar

Super / Mega star, Mass Maharaja. We’ve heard them before, but ‘Big Daddy of the masses’. Phew! That’s some title and it belongs to Kannada actor/ filmmaker Dr. Shiva Rajkumar. Popularly known as Shivanna, he is the son of the late great Rajkumar, and the elder brother of the late Puneeth Rajkumar.  Save for the lineage, there is very little that this reviewer knew about Shivanna. There was a natural curiosity around the man labelled as the Big Daddy of the masses. 

We are introduced to Shivanna, and promising young filmmaker/actor M.G. Srinivas with Ghost [2023]. Clearly, Kantara [2022], K.G.F franchise has instilled confidence in Kannada artistes/filmmakers to showcase their content across India. Srinivas, fondly called as Srini, has earned his stripes as actor, director of successful films like Birbal [2019], Old Monk [2022]. He calls his films a Srini vision. What vision does Ghost [2023] throw up?

In a bizarre tale, a bunch of unknown men lay seize to a Karnataka prison. The group is led by an unnamed larger-than-life character [played by Shiva Rajkumar]. One assumes this to be a part of a sinister jailbreak plot, but it isn’t.  This has puzzled senior cop Charan Raj [Jayram]. He is confident though about bringing these men to justice. However, the outlaw head is always one step ahead of the cop. The subsequent revelations eventually underline why this film is called Ghost.

Srini has a vision but the rushed screenplay, average direction is likely to haunt the Bollywood audience. Ghost has a promising premise, but the biggest deterrent here is the ear busting background score. This is worse than travelling in a blazing autorickshaw with a nerve racking audio system. During the interval, many requested for the volume to be lowered. Probably, such loud BGM caters to local taste, but it is unlikely to sooth the pan India audience.

The BGM is painfully loud, but the average direction, editing jolts the viewer further. The early screenplay is rushed, and complicated further by one too many intercuts. Clearly, subtlety isn’t part of Srini’s vision. The writer-director has a promising plot, sub plot. There’s a certain intellect in each sequence, but the expression is below standards. A courier rodent is a stunning idea. The loud BGM though spoils such experience.

The soul-sucking screenplay haunts you for the best part of its 127 minutes. The many twists and turns add to the viewer’s curiosity. However, if only this story was backed by a measured screenplay, sound direction.  

There are many characters, but Ghost is essentially a two-horse race between the unknown outlaw and the smart cop.  Shiva Rajkumar and Jayram’s fine performances ensure that Ghost doesn’t turn into a disaster. 

One is amazed as to how South Indians, generally humble, introverts, turn into these blood-thirsty, swaggy characters. Where does this on-screen rage, violence then stems from? We didn’t get the desired answer from Shivanna or Jayram at the Mumbai press conference. Director Srinivas though summed it by pointing to Shivanna and saying, “This is OC [original character], and that [reel] is OG [original gangster].

Shiva Rajkumar

Shiva Rajkumar speaks only few words, but he intimidates through his (artificial) cobalt eyes and inimitable swag.  Though fiction, Srinivasan uses file visuals (accidental death of a former Chief Minister) as a reference to build the Ghost backstory. Political opponents, conspiracy theorists will cheer such tropes. It is hard to justify the Big Daddy of the masses tag. Shivakumar has a larger-than-life persona but thankfully it’s not dented by over-the-top action here.

The thrill here stems more from the mind games, tricks that both Ghost and Charan Raj use to outwit each other. Jayram, too, puts in a decent show.  The nature of Ghost, shoddy screenplay is such that one is never realty attached to any other characters. Prashanth Narayanan plays a pivotal role, but is held back by the limited screentime. The crime thriller naturally limits the scope for women here. Archana Jois, who famously played Rocky bhai’s mother in K.G.F franchise, will be pleased to be playing a character [Laxmi] befitting her age.

A Ghost [2023] busts the hype around M.G. Srinivas, leaving his first-time Hindi viewers disappointed.

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