In what's probably the first Indian socio-fantasy web series to release on an OTT platform, Bhoot Purva is a payback to the 70s and 80s brand of mythological fiction coupled with a new-age horror-comedy dose. The series toys around with the idea of ghosts and mythological folklores surrounding Yamraj, the Lord of death and their travails with the world. Though the trend of making socio fantasies is still prevalent in the South cinema, it's been a long time since the Hindi entertainment industry has explored that territory.
Bhoot Purva, however, doesn't bring much good news. All the attempts to lend the series a contemporary touch fall flat; you feel the actor, writer-turned-director Zeishan Qadri is merely recycling an outdated plot minus any novelty in its treatment or humour. Yamraj, played by Baba Sehgal, is a multi-lingual rapper here who's social media-savvy if it justifies being called as an updated version of a story as old as the hills. All said and done, the director provides some situational humour occasionally to keep the proceedings moving and doesn't bore you to death. The series opens with the death of Aarav (Rishab Chadha), who dies with an unfulfilled wish of uniting with his ladylove Angelina Yadav (yes, that's her name!). Yamraj, who mistakenly ends the life of Aarav, tries to correct his error and offers Aarav a chance to live again through the body of Angelina's future bridegroom. That's when Purva (Omkar Kapoor) enters into Aarav's life; they share a warm camaraderie and try every trick in the book to fix a match for Angelina and finalise matters. The series takes a new turn when Aarav and Angelina end up falling for each other. How does it complicate the equation between Aarav and Purav? Well, that's the series for you!
Bhoot Purva has its moments of charm, though the sparkle is pretty much inconsistent. The equation between Purva and his lorry-driver father make for some interesting sequences, so much that you wonder if the director could have explored their thread in better detail. The comic potential of episodes is squandered, especially with the stretch that deals with the lost crown of Goddess Durga in the temple and the blame game between villagers and Purva henceforth. Also, Purva and Aarav's hunt for the right match for Angelina generates some interest, to begin with. Whenever you sense that the series is finally finding its way, it prefers to embrace mediocrity all over again. The director just doesn't have the word 'cut' in his dictionary.
Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 actor Omkar Kapoor finds his feet in the digital terrain with reasonable ease. The actor lends a boyish charm to his role as Purva and he utilises his primary strength, comic timing, to his advantage. If you manage to sit through the series despite the poor writing, it's only because of Omkar. The director, however, doesn't offer similar scope for the female lead Zoa Morani to perform well. It's a weak character whose transformation from a haughty girl to a caring lover lacks basis.
Baba Sehgal as the Yamraj is annoying, to say the least. When a frustrated Aarav tells him a dialogue, 'Har baar ek notification jaise bina poochke aajaate ho', you feel as if he's talking on behalf of the audience. The forced rap-element that comes through his character and the two sons of the priest is cringe-worthy. Another dialogue surrounding the motivational gyaan that Aarav offers to Purav reads, 'Zero ke naam ke picture bhi nahi chalta idhar'. Well, that at least makes you smile! Rishab Chadha has a good screen-presence but the series doesn't have much in its tank to utilise his potential.
The visuals of the series are enough proof that it's made on a shoe-string budget. It looks like the composer wasn't paid well for the series too, who conveniently lifts tunes from Taare Zameen Par, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na and a handful of other popular films for the background score. Time and again, the series tries to gravitate towards the sexual urge of the characters, which are hardly relevant to the narrative. It's time that Indian filmmakers tread the digital route with more caution and preparedness. There's little value that the medium would hold in the future if they treat it with such scant respect.