Bhool Bhulaiya Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Shiney Ahuja, Amisha Patel; Director: Priyadarshan; Rating: **

Gawk, it must be the world’s largest lock. Quickly, a locksmith bakes a nice, thin, long key. And presto, the door opens up to reveal a chamber of ghungroos, paan daans, and very awful paintings of a king fatter than Adnan Sami (before weight loss) and a courtesan whose hips are in a twist. With destiny she has to keep a tryst.

Ultra-tragically that poor ironsmith dies. So does your interest in Priyadarshan’s umpteenth creation, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, which may or may not have been adapted from a Malayalam, Telugu or a Tamil hit.

That hardly matters because it keeps breaking into a yaargh-yikes-cripes fit, till you wonder if it’s a comedy, horrorfest or tragedy. An Exorcist? Entity? Hungama? Bungama? Now should you be tittering, shuddering, or sobbing? With this mixed-genre malarkey, you just can’t tell. Oh well.

Honestly, you do try your darndest to connect with Priyadarshan’s potty-pourri. After all, his shot takings are admirable supplemented with loads of moody colour and lighting and the set designs are out of a heritage preservation catalogue. Plus his regular supporting players – Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav – do guarantee a guffaw or two. Unarguably, the director is a marvellous craftsman. But man oh man, the storytelling is as mumbo as a jiving jumbo.

Pray, what’s going yawn? At the outset, for a lengthy reel you’re locked into a village panchayat speechlet on Hindi and English lingusitics (cricket is translated as something-something-dhan-dhana-dhan!). Asrani faints in a spooky medium-budget haveli, and thousands of elderly men and women whisper on about ghosts-‘n’- ghouls till you fall asleep with your eyes open like an owl’s. Scowl.

Then arrive NRI freshly-wedded couple (Shiney Ahuja-Vidya Balan). He’s a maharaja of sorts. So, a dormouse plays a piano in his haveli, a cat does a nach baliye under a basket, a kitchenmaid bites her lips till yours bleed. And hello, a jilted girl (Ameesha Patel, wasted ) with Rapunzel hair is described as walnuts-`n’-pistachios. Insane.

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