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      Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated PG.

      Bhoothnath is billed as a child-friendly supernatural thriller, but because this is Bollywood, the viewer gets a ghost story, a children’s film, and a family comedy rolled into one. Ultimately, the film goes off-track and into the realm of serious melodrama, and loses the audience.

      A majestic house sits empty on the picturesque shores of Goa, haunted by its former owner, Kailash Nath, aka Bhoothnath (Amitabh Bachchan). The ghost has so spooked the locals that no one goes near this unkempt place other than drunkard Anthony (Rajpal Yadav).

      However, the newly arrived Sharma family, led by its mischievous little brat, Banku (Aman Siddiqui), moves in after cruise-ship-captain dad Aditya (Shahrukh Khan) is relocated to Goa by his company. But superstar Khan is only brought in briefly for star power, as Aditya takes off immediately for his seafaring job, leaving wife Anjali (Juhi Chawla) and Banku to deal with the kooky old ghost.

      Because the filmmakers have little interest in telling a credible story, it’s left to the two main characters, Banku and Bhoothnath, to provide some sparks. Newcomer Siddiqui and living legend Bachchan develop good chemistry, as the young Banku helps turn the curmudgeonly old spirit into Bhoothnath the friendly ghost. And there are some good visual effects here. But the film lacks the imagination and a semblance of a real plot needed to create the desired magic. Director Vivek Sharma makes up rules regarding the ghost-film genre as he goes along, mostly adding whatever suits his whims rather than what’s believable.